The Pacific Northwest prides itself on maintaining our natural resources and keeping our lifestyles eco-friendly. According to the Planet Natural Research Center, 40-60% of nitrogen from fertilizer runoff ends up in ground and surface water. It’s important to read labels on chemicals and common lawn and garden fertilizer to create a safe and healthy home for your family. Here are our top chemical-free lawn and gardening tips for this Spring.
Want a Lush & Healthy Lawn?
Raise the blade on your mower 3 inches to allow for longer grass and reduce the stress on your lawn. Leave the lawn clippings to decompose as a natural fertilizer. This helps crowd out weeds and maintain moisture in the soil, keeping your lawn healthy.
Ready to Plant Your Garden?
Become knowledgeable on your yard, notice where the afternoon shade lands and which areas have clay soil vs. rich mulch. Above ground garden beds are great alternatives for clay-rich soil. This advantage will determine the success of your plants and ensure longevity. The Portland Metro area’s last spring frost date falls around March 11th and the Seattle Metro area’s last frost falls after March 17th. Once frozen ground is no longer a threat, you can plant your starters in the garden.
Alternatives to Roundup
Toxic weed killer is harmful to our water supply, crops, pests, and animals. Try safe alternatives like orange oil, a natural acid you can spot treat weeds with. Add one cup of orange oil to one gallon of vinegar and a tablespoon of dish soap. This method is more efficient in a sprayer and strong enough to kill tough poison ivy. Vinegar is a great alternative, but you may need to look for a stronger version for weeds. Look for horticultural strength vinegar, with 10-20% acetic acid, this will make a much better impact on stubborn weeds than the kind we use on our salad. Be sure to wear gloves and protection from potent vinegar burns.
Alternatives to Fertilizer
Corn gluten meal is often something people keep off their plate, but it doubles as a clean fertilizer to use on a yard with children and pets. This pre-emergent weed control can be used in a spreader with a ration of 20 pounds of corn gluten meal to every 1,000 square feet of yard with a spreader opening of 95%. Because it acts as a pre-emergent, make sure you start this process early in the spring, before weeds appear to keep them away.
Build a Pollinator Garden
Now that your home is a safe, pesticide-free area for plants and animals, you can build a pollinator garden. This will attraction will create a welcoming environment for honey bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Start by planting effervescent lavender, vibrant hibiscus, low maintenance sunflowers, and zinnias. If you’re looking to add pollinators to help your vegetable garden bloom, try adding basil, oregano, mint, and garlic chives to the area.