Spring is finally here! The trees are budding, the flowers are blooming, and the grass is starting to grow again. On a stroll through our neighborhood on any Saturday during this time of year, you are likely to see people out walking behind their green spreaders filled with fertilizer and chemicals in an effort achieve that perfectly green lawn that will be the envy of the neighborhood. Or, the edge of their lawn will be lined with little yellow flags alerting you not to walk on the grass because the lawn company already spread the pesticides.
If you walk past our house, you will not see any of that. Sometimes I feel like we are the only ones around who don’t use chemicals on our lawn, but we stand by our decision. Here are some of our reasons why:
1. Save Time. My time is very precious to me, and I try to make sure it is spent wisely. I would much rather spend my time with my family making memories than taking hours out of my day four times a year to go to a lawn and garden supply store, purchase several bags of fertilizer, lug them all home, and then put our health at risk by spreading the chemicals on my lawn. I feel that my time is better spent with my kids. In the end, the only thing that REALLY matters in life is our relationships. In the grand scheme of things, the color of our lawn means absolutely nothing.
2. Save Money. It would take several bags of fertilizer to cover our .92-acre lawn, with each bag costing around $50. Since I haven’t bought fertilizer in a few years, I just looked on-line to figure out what it would cost to cover our lawn, and the amount blew my mind! In the end, we are saving hundreds of dollars each season by skipping this process. To me, that money is better spent making memories with my family on our summer vacation.
3. We have loved ones who walk on and play in the grass.
We all love our children, pets, and friends and don’t want to harm them in any way. I love that I don’t have to worry about my kids, their friends, our dog, or our chickens being harmed by chemicals when they walk on or play in our grass. It just doesn’t seem right to me to have a lawn that you’re not allowed to walk in. It’s there for us to play in and enjoy, not just to look at.
When my oldest daughter was 18 months old, we went for a walk one sunny May afternoon. Our neighbor had recently spread fertilizer on her lawn. As we walked past her house, my daughter spotted little orange candy-like rocks on the sidewalk. Thinking it was candy, she picked one up and immediately put it in her mouth and ate it before I could stop her. I panicked and called Poison Control. They instructed me to give her a glass of water, and thankfully it turned out to have no effect on her since it was such a small amount. Nevertheless, it was a scary situation and I’m sure others have had similar experiences.
4. It kills the bees.
“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe,
then man would have only four years of life left. No
more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no
more animals, no more man.” ~ Unknown
It is said that without bees, the human population would only be able to survive about 4 years. We rely on the bees for so much of our food supply, including many of our fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
My husband has been a beekeeper for over 4 years and his bees have never survived the winter. When asking more experienced beekeepers for advice, they explained that they have recently started experiencing the same problems. Years ago, they would be able to keep their bees through the winter with no issues, but it is getting more difficult each year. Many beekeepers are attributing it to the increased use of pesticides and fertilizers. Here is a great article that discusses bee colony collapse disorder and the role pesticides play in that. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/01/28/bees-death-destroy-food-supply.aspx
5. It contaminates our ponds, lakes, and water supply.
We are blessed to have two large ponds in our town that are home to some beautiful birds and wildlife. For years, the ponds provided clean water and safe year-round recreational use for residents to enjoy. Unfortunately, we have not been able to enjoy these ponds in recent years because they are contaminated. For several years in a row, the algae reached dangerous levels and warnings were issued to avoid any contact with that water. Sadly, among other reasons, fertilizers and chemicals are said to have played a major role in the contamination of our beautiful ponds. It is very unfortunate to drive by these beautiful ponds and beaches on a summer afternoon and see them empty. If they weren’t contaminated with fertilizers and chemicals, we would still be able to enjoy them.
6. Dandelions are useful, nutritious, and I think they are pretty.
I personally love the contrast of the yellow dandelions in the green grass. I love to take pictures of my kids playing in the dandelions. They love to pick them. While everyone else is fighting dandelions, I embrace them and see the beauty in them. Dandelions are a gift of nature, and they also have many health benefits. Although I have not yet eaten dandelion, I think nature is trying to tell us something by making them so abundant. I think we need to embrace them and stop fighting them. For more information on all the wonderful benefits of eating dandelion, check out this blog post by one of my favorite blogs, DIY Natural.
7. It pollutes the air. Yesterday my friend and I took off on our daily morning walk through a nearby neighborhood. It was a beautiful morning! The sun was shining, and there was a slight breeze every once in a while. Each time the wind blew we would smell chemicals that had been freshly sprayed on the lawns over the weekend. We were commenting how it can’t be good for us to inhale these chemicals, and it can’t be good for our kids either. Nearly every house we passed in that affluent neighborhood had little flags on their lawn notifying us that chemicals were present. We encourage our kids to play outside, thinking the “fresh air” is good for them. How fresh is it, really, when they are ingesting the chemicals from the neighbor’s lawn?
8.It’s not necessary.
I think nature is beautiful and perfect just as it is, and I don’t think we need to interfere with it. I don’t know who decided that a perfectly green carpet of a lawn is ideal, but I disagree. Our lawns weren’t meant to be perfectly green. They’re meant to have color. The grass is there for us to enjoy, not just to look at. I think people have created unnecessary work for themselves. I think we should embrace nature as it is rather than fight it. It’s so much easier and enjoyable to float down the river and appreciate the beauty of it than it is to fight the current and travel upstream.
“True mastery can be gained by letting things go their own way. It cannot be gained by interfering.”
“One who lives in accordance with nature does not go against the way of things.”
Both of these quotes are from one of my all-time favorite books by Wayne Dyer, Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life
The Reason We Stopped Using Chemicals
Until we got chickens four years ago, we used to follow the 4-step lawn care routine just like everyone else we know. When we moved into our house, we wanted our lawn to look nice and blend in with the neighbors, and fertilizing the lawn is just what you do in our neighborhood. I never gave any thought as to why we did it, and I never considered the consequences until we got our chickens. After getting the chickens, I couldn’t bear the thought of them living in the grass and eating these chemicals, which in turn we would eventually be eating when we ate their eggs.
I am a big advocate of being aware of the things you put in and on your body. In the end, less use of chemicals will result in less contamination of the foods we eat. Although I respect everyone’s right to do what they want with their lawns, I don’t feel the benefits of a lush, green lawn are worth the time, effort, and ultimate health consequences of spreading fertilizers and pesticides. What do you think?
Do you use chemicals or fertilizers on your lawn? Why or why not? Please leave a comment below.
This article was originally posted on Journey to Complete Wellness on May 7, 2014.