Were you working on your lawn this weekend? Are you dreaming of a summer of lush, green grass at the front or back of your home?
Pesticides and herbicides were a fact of gardening life in this part of the world for decades. But with pesticides banned in Halifax, the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, and a growing list of communities all over Canada, is it still possible to get the green, weed-free grassy expanse so many of us desire?
“The only thing you’re giving up is an unsustainable monoculture and the nasty smell and toxic fumes,” says Sharyn Inward, executive assistant with Green Communities Canada in Peterborough, Ont.
If you think it’s going to be frustrating and difficult to green your green, Inward is delighted to disagree.
“The first thing you want to do at this time of year is rake your lawn” Inward says. “Just picking up stuff that has matted in there. It’s call dethatching. All that stuff is valuable mulch.
“Then you aerate, and that’s just poking holes in the lawn. You can use a pitchfork, and there’s also special spiked shoes, or you can have a commercial landscaper come by and do it for you.”
Overseeding your lawn thickens the grass. Letting it grow two to two-and-a-half inches tall makes it almost impossible for weeds to take hold.
“What people can also do is grow clover. It actually feeds the grass because it fixes nitrogen in the soil. And clover is green! You can encourage this slow-growing plant to complement your grass, and feed it at the same time to make your lawn a bit greener than your neighbour’s in the middle of the summer when there’s a drought.”
Inward says good grass rises — literally and directly — from well-maintained soil. And it’s not just your grass that benefits.
Pets and people become a lot safer when aggressive, destructive chemicals are put aside. Inward cautions that dogs are more susceptible to cancer than humans, particularly because of their shorter lifespans.
“The advanced stages of this are to minimize the lawn,” she notes
“If you have a shade tree, for example, it’s a losing battle to have lawn underneath. You should just mulch the whole area and plant shade plants. And you can also have more garden beds, which are easier to care for than a lawn.”