Lush Lawns

It is spring time and everyone is outside getting their yards and landscaping in tip top shape.  As our girls were growing up we had more weeds than grass.  My favorite line was “if it’s green and grows, I’m happy.”  Then, when we were in Norwalk, Ohio, we moved into a really nice neighborhood where everyone had nice, lush lawns with no weeds.  I was finally shamed into doing whatever it took to keep my lawn looking the same.  Our second summer there a strange thing happened.  Our pet Old English Sheep dog (Agatha) developed throat cancer.  As a side note:  her full name was “Agatha of Christie Lane.”  We lived on Christie Avenue at the time we got her, and I was a big Agatha Christie fan.  Sadly, within six weeks of her getting sick, she died.

Shortly after this I ask our Vet if he knew what had caused the illness.  He asked if Agatha ate grass on a regular basis and the answer was “yes.”  He then asked if I was using chemicals to fertilize and control weeds in our lawn.  I paused, but had to answer yes again.  He didn’t say that this had definitely caused Agatha’s illness, but that it was possible.  I read up on the fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides that I had been using.  I was shocked to find out how dangerous these chemicals could be to animals and children.  I vowed never to use the stuff again.

Well, 25 years later, we were once again in a nice neighborhood where everyone had lush lawns.  I once again treated my lawn, but this time I keep the chemicals out of the area where our pets roamed.  At least I thought I did.  To make a long story short, our Siberian Husky developed liver cancer and died.  Once again, I can’t prove that this caused her illness, but I can’t dis-prove it either.

I have talked to my landscaper about what I can use to fertilize my lawn (short of cow manure, which I don’t think my neighbors would appreciate) and to kill weeds without endangering the health of my family and my pets.  I have found one product called “Milky Spore” which is bad for grubs (Japanese Beetles), and non- harmful to other living creatures.  My landscaper says let my grass grow higher so it will choke out the weeds, but somehow I have got to get the grass to grow first.   Liquid (spray on) fertilizers get into the soil much quicker and dry a couple hours after application.  My landscaper says this is safer than the pellet fertilizers most of us use.

I am open to suggestions.  How can I keep my lawn looking nice and weed-free without hurting my children and pets? Please read about the dangers of any product before you put it on your lawn.  Question your landscaper carefully.  For now, I’m only doing my front yard so that from the street, our house looks nice.  I guess I could to put up an 8’ barrier fence to keep the neighbors from seeing our back yard.

How do you keep the weeds out of your yard, and keep your kids and animals safe?

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