With this year’s drought, growing water-wise, pollinator-friendly yards is more important than ever. Whether you’re investing in water conservation landscaping or working on maintaining the vitality of your lawn after our extreme summer, going pesticide free can help keep your yard – and community – healthy and flourishing.
Pesticides can pose health risks, especially for children, pregnant women, and older populations. Many pesticides are also linked to declines in bird and pollinator populations. Eliminating the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers is a great step towards protecting our community from harmful chemicals.
Establishing a healthy organic yard may require a little extra work up front, and fall is the perfect time to get started!
We’ve gathered some of our best tips and resources to help you restore soil health in your yard and eliminate pesticides in your lawn care. Check it out!
Does all this snow have some of you daydreaming about spring and gardening?
Luckily spring is just around the corner, and now is a great time to start planning a pesticide free yard, garden, and home! Pesticides are often used on lawns and in gardens to limit weeds and associated pests. Unfortunately, pesticides (including herbicides, rodenticides, insecticides, and fungicides) have negative health impacts on people and the environment.
Being pesticide free means choosing methods of controlling these weeds and pests in ways that are healthy for the environment and for you and your family!
Salt Lake City has been working with Healthy Babies Bright Futures since 2016 to reduce exposures to harmful chemicals—many of which we unknowingly come in contact with on a daily basis. A common source of harmful chemical exposure is through pesticides and lawn fertilizer use. Salt Lake City’s Sustainability Department partnered with Beyond Pesticides to create a public resource guide for a less toxic approach to pest management and lawn care.
Why are pesticides an issue?
Chemical pesticide use and exposure have been shown to have negative health effects on humans. Serious health effects of pesticide exposure include birth defects, childhood cancer, acute poisoning, brain tumors, and asthma. Avoiding pesticides in your yards will help protect the health of our communities.
by Sydney Boogaard
Winter is coming to a close as we begin to pack away our heavy coats and gloves. We may be sad to see the skis go back into the basement, but soon we’ll bring out the mountain bikes and hiking shoes. And as the temperature begins to rise we can head back into our gardens and yards.
Our trees and plants have been snoozing the winter away and it is time for them to wake back up. Just like us, our trees are a little groggy and sleepy, from their long nap. The harsh elements of the winter have damaged and weakened their branches and stems. This makes them even more susceptible to pest invasion. Nonetheless, with a little tender loving care we can help rejuvenate our trees, keeping them strong, happy, healthy and pesticide free.
Join our #PesticideFreeSLC campaign and pledge to keep our yards healthy and our bodies safe! Check out our resource guide for tips and visit our past blogs on organic landscaping to get started.
. . . Fall is an important time of year for employing organic and sustainable gardening methods.
Preparing for next year– Be Pesticide Free!
The fall is a key part of the gardening cycle because it allows us to prepare our garden for the winter and sets us up for a productive spring and summer.
Most pesticides and fertilizers used today are produced with harmful chemicals that even when applied correctly can have adverse effects on the environment, pollinators, and human health.
But don’t worry– there are plenty of ways to have a healthy garden and lawn without using noxious chemicals.
Leave the Leaves
Not all leaves need to be raked up and disposed of immediately:
- Consider that your leaves are a free fertilizer and weed suppressant! This makes them perfect for organic gardening.
- Leaves also provide important winter habitat for butterflies, bees, and other beneficial bugs.
- Finally, “leaving your leaves” reduces emissions associated with polluting leaf blowers. Keeping leaves out of the landfill also prevents the generation of potent methane emissions.
So how can you use leaves?
Use whole leaves around perennials, trees and bushes, or lightly layered on lawn (they may need to be shredded first). You can also create a leaf pile that will decompose into “leaf mold“– a rich, valuable compost amendment to be used in warmer months. Or– if you’re like me– simply pile your leaves on your vegetable garden bed and turn them into the soil in the spring before planting.
And if you still have too many leaves, use your curbside compost can to dispose of them (please keep them out of the gutters and storm drains). If you have a lot of leaves, give us a shout and we’ll help you get an extra container or two.
Here are a number of helpful resources on “leaving leaves”:
Xerces Foundation National Wildlife Federation Leave Leaves Alone
Use organic amendments to improve the health of your soil
Materials like the aforementioned leaves, as well as other compost, manure, bone meal, etc. can be used to balance the pH of your soil and will release nutrients into the soil to create a vibrant ecosystem and help your garden grow. Mulches can also be great for keeping weeds down, retaining moisture, and feeding the soil. Other organic soil enhancers, like coffee grounds, tea bags, and even newspaper can be an important tool in keeping your garden thriving. Learn more about amending your soil.
Since last spring, little green hexagonal signs have been blooming in Salt Lake City gardens. These Pesticide Free Yard signs are part of the Salt Lake City Pesticide Free Campaign in partnership with Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF). HBBF encourages residents to protect our families and the environment by eliminating pesticide use.
Salt Lake City’s Sustainability Department teamed up with Beyond Pesticides to guide residents who want to keep their gardens beautiful without using harmful chemicals. And it’s working! Since 2018, over 340 individuals have pledged to go pesticide free.
And even though summer is coming to a close, you can still go pesticide free in your yard. Eliminating your use of toxic chemicals is a year-round challenge that will protect your family and neighborhood.
by Sydney Boogaard, spring intern
Why use alternatives to pesticides?
If you have the privilege of having a lawn or garden, you aim to keep it lush, green, and pest free. In order to obtain this, many resort to the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. While these products may be effective, they are also harmful, not only to the ecosystem, but our own human health. Most fertilizers and pesticides are manufactured with chemicals that can hurt human health; as research has shown even regulated pesticides cause damage, and all the effects have not yet been studied.
Fortunately, there are cost-effective natural alternatives to pesticides and fertilizers that will help you attain that healthy pest free yard, all while being pesticide free. Join our #PesticideFreeSLC campaign and pledge to keep our yards healthy and our bodies safe! Read more