This is part of the Healthy Child Blog Carnival – an effort by Healthy Child Healthy World to help inspire a movement to protect children from harmful chemicals.
This year marks 5 years since Matt and I began the search for our house. It also marks 5 years of changing ideals and plans for our lawn. We bought our home in October and were married in the early spring, so I had plenty of time to dream about what I was going to do with the expansive flower gardens plotted out by the previous owners. When the weather warmed up, I went nuts at the garden shops planting everything I could get my hands on. Our home was beautiful, but it was a ton of work. So, for the first time in my life, I purchased liquid weed killer and sprayed. I felt guilty to be sure and only wound up using it once, but it was still there. Our home was built on a parcel of land that was formerly farmland. There is evidence in that the soil is still fairly workable and supports our garden well. Looking at our home from the street or even from a standing position, one would think that we have wonderful grass. This is not the case. We have clover, with a little grass. In 2007, I radically changed our lifestyle and swore off chemicals. Now, our weed killers are my hands and an occasional tea kettle of boiling water. What has made the difference has been my attitude toward my lawn.
I no longer spend hours each spring transplanting delicate flowers into my flower beds. I have hardy plants that bloom in succession and require only minimal effort. In March, we have daffodils and the weeping cherry. May brings the peonies and the beginnings of my hydrangeas. The hydrangeas grace our home through until late August and sometimes early September. In the back yard, the spaces where the grass needed the most loving care were torn up and turned into garden beds that provide us with food (and more weeds). But you see, those weeds hold in the moisture in the soil (and the dandelions provide me with a tasty salad green). We’ve had a nasty summer with heat and rare rain showers, but the indigenous weeds have kept my plants cool and moist. Now when I am desperate to get the walkway weeded and just don’t have the time, my tea kettle and I have a date early in the morning. I pour boiling water on the stubborn weeds and then let the hot morning sun do the rest. Sometimes, it requires an additional dousing if it isn’t withered by the next morning. Apple cider vinegar has also been handy for keeping the cracks in my driveway from sprouting it’s own forest. We don’t mow our lawn as frequently as our neighbors, only about every 10 days. Since our grass is longer, the sun isn’t burning the roots and we aren’t wasting water trying to keep it green.
Part of our efforts to keep any all chemicals out of our yard has also been to talk with our neighbors about their lawn care. Every spring, they get their lawn treated by a local lawn service. It took some doing, but I did finally work up the nerve to research out what the lawn service offered as an alternative to the chemicals. I offered to pay the difference, and now my neighbors are going on 3 years of organic lawn care. Sometimes, all you have to do is ask.
These days, we spend our time in the grass playing. Liam loves to run his fingers through the grass and play with each blade. He loves to dig down into the dirt and feel the textures of the worms and soil. He plays, I pull the weeds that insist on taking up residence where the daffoils bloom all spring. Growing up, my parents never used anything but labor on their gardens and lawns. We never worried about what was in the grass when we rolled around playing in the summer sun. So for the sake of my baby (and quite honestly, the dogs too), we don’t use anything either. We no longer worry and fuss about the lawn and are able to spend time outside watching the birds who come to snack on the green pears and my berry bushes. I am hopeful that coupled with our garden, we will be able to use our yard as a place to teach, learn and appreciate the world around us without worry.