RMOW Environmental Coordinator
As you ready your yard for the imminent winter snows, it's important to know Whistler is one of 12 communities in British Columbia with a bylaw eliminating the non-essential and cosmetic use of pesticides as we move toward a greener, healthier community.
Why the ban on cosmetic pesticides? Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides, 19 are linked with cancer or carcinogenicity, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 15 with neurotoxicity and 11 with disruption of the endocrine (hormonal) system. Studies show that lawn pesticides increase the risk of cancer and asthma particularly in children and pets as they spend a great deal of time rolling around in the grass and playing in gardens.
So, where does that leave the homeowner or business that pines for a lush, weed-free, green lawn and garden but without the toxicity? Rest assured that this can be achieved naturally as pesticide-free lawns are easy, affordable and healthier. The key factors to a good lawn are: healthy soil and good mowing, watering, and fertilizing practices.
Healthy soil contains high organic content and is teeming with biological life and supports the development of healthy grass that is naturally resistant to weeds and pests. Once established, an organic lawn uses fewer materials, such as water and fertilizers, and requires less labour for mowing and maintenance. More importantly, your lawn will be safe for children, pets and your local drinking water supply. Follow these tips to start transitioning your lawn and remember the term "ORGANIC" and you're well on your way to a lush, green, pesticide-free oasis.
O verseed. It's simple: a thick lawn will crowd out weeds, so overseed during the fall or spring. Bare patches can easily be repaired by heavily raking the ground, adding a centimeter of light soil, and applying grass seed instead of pesticides. Overseed your entire lawn as well to introduce more drought and disease resistant grass species. When seeding your lawn, make sure to keep it well watered so that it can germinate. Also, topdress your lawn with compost and/or triple mix at the same time.
R emove . Remove thatch, weeds and/or insects manually instead of reaching for the pesticide applicator. Found at the surface, thatch prevents water, air, and valuable nutrients from reaching the soil, thus making your grass more vulnerable to drought, infestation, and disease while harbouring harmful insects such as cinch bugs. Remove excess thatch with a heavy rake in the late spring or early summer. Developing a healthy soil will create all the components necessary to break thatch down naturally.