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STOP! Don’t Walk Me Here!

May 18, 2013

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These days a green lawn is seen as a symbol of a well maintained home.  Weeds or natives as most of us plant junkies call them have no place in this domain.  They are looked at as invaders to our carefully crafted landscaping that can sometimes resemble a movie set with no imperfections.  I have to admit that there are times when I too enjoy looking at an unbroken expanse of grass blades that resembles a green sea.  But than I wake up and realize that this scene goes against everything I know to be right.  There’s no biodiversity, no ability for water retention, and the maintenance this situation requires tends to poison our surroundings and nature.

This week a truck showed up at my apartment building and sprayed a chemical soup of synthetic nitrogen and herbicide in order to keep things looking up to par.  The smell is awful, and if you have any sensitivity to chemicals you’ll pick it up for weeks after the application.  There are a multitude of reasons for this post but the majority of my concerns lie with our family dogs and the fact that they put their paws in direct contact with these treated surfaces.  When they get home they don’t have a sink to wash their hands, instead they use their own cleaning mechanism.  Their tongue!  Just days after my lawn was treated I watched in horror as the city lot across the street from me was doused in herbicides by a tractor with twelve nozzles misting this crap into the air.  Immediately I warned all local pet owners that this place was no longer safe.

Herbicides like Monsanto’s Round Up (aka glyphosate) stay around for a lot longer than previously admitted by this company.  http://www.alternet.org/story/150733/why_is_damning_new_evidence_about_monsanto’s_most_widely_used_herbicide_being_silenced Would you let your children play on a lawn you just saw sprayed with this stuff?  I wouldn’t, and that is why I’ve been on the look out for some tell tale signs of herbicide use on local lawns as I walk my dog daily.

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Untreated lawns will exhibit normal growth of “weeds” like this one.

 Some things to look for in a safe lawn besides dandelions like the one shown above are blotchy patches of soil, not so green looking lawns, and the regular smells of nature.  All of these are signs that imported grasses are not doing so great (like they naturally would without our help,) and that they have fallen out of favor in the natural cycle.  The things that take the place of grasses are common flowers that have escaped from gardens over the years and naturalized, actual weeds that are invasive species, and natives that are usually the first to colonize a bare patch of soil due to their incredible hardiness (i.e. dandelions.)  I am in no way a fan of any invasive species but I will take them over chemical applications that harm me and my animal any day.

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This is the damage that Round Up does to targeted plants. Anything that runs off into the dirt binds to the soil and remains for months.

 Notice in the picture above the mutated, sickly look of this dandelion.  You’ll see a marvel of evolution struggling to stay alive even after it has been robbed of crucial growth elements by the “interrupting” effects of Glyphosate.  If you look closely, you’ll also notice that this dandelion has already gone to seed.  What does this mean for the seeds sitting atop a flower stem ready to be whisked away by the wind?  It means that they have most likely already adapted to this poison that was probably applied too late.  If these seeds carry on, they will have a slightly higher resistance to the herbicide than their parent plant.  Off to the races!

How crazy to think that one could simply manually pull “weeds” like this and get better results.  How lazy have we become?  If you want to have your castle’s yard look like a dream, than get of your ass and do some work instead of paying someone to spray this garbage all over town!  It’s actually rewarding, and could probably benefit some you obese people out that haven’t really moved in years.  My dog and I would most certainly thank you.

In conclusion, I do advocate the destruction of this countries turf industry, but I’m not naive enough to think that this will happen anytime soon.  That is why I am taking the realistic approach and offering a few practical solutions for those of you that just can’t let this fantasy go.  There are some alternatives:  1) Tear up your lawn and plant a diverse array of native prarie plants (this works in Illinois and most of the Midwest.) They are incredibly resilient, require little to no water after the first year, and your front yard will serve as a flower garden that blooms from April through October once established.  A lot of these are perennials so you have up to three years to watch and enjoy what you’ve created.  Native pollinators will love you!  Go to http://www.prariecrossing.com for an example of a subdivision that adopted this practice.  2)  If you’re not willing to give up your lawn, at least stop spraying the chemicals.  As I stated before, you can manually pull weeds, people did and still do this!  3)  Spread natural fertilizers and lawn amendments that don’t cause harm to wildlife, people and pets.  Earthworm castings are widely available.  They have a slowed, time released effect that also introduces a multitude of beneficial soil organisms to your topsoil.  This allows for a build up of humus that will make your lawn greener and help it withstand periods without water far better than a chemically dependent turf.  4)  Not possible in most cities with any sort of municipal codes regarding turf, but you could always just let it go like the guy down the street from me! see below

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This is an irresponsible home owner to most, to me he’s giving my dog a safe place to squat!

One Comment
  1. We must be on the same brain cloud, I just drafted a 4 part rambling about native plants & has a whole part about ditching lawns. I agree with everything you’ve wrote your will read soon

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