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Green lawn care tips

    Decreasing or eliminating the use of chemicals such as pesticides (which include insect and weed killers) and fertilizers is a great place to start to reduce health risks.
    Kids and pets are more likely than adults to roll on a lawn, walk barefoot (think paws or feet), put things in their mouths, and generally come in contact with chemicals applied to lawns. And with this exposure comes risks. Noting this, a study done by Purdue University found “exposure to herbicide-treated lawns and gardens increases the risk of bladder cancer in Scottish terriers”.

    Can you have both a healthy GREEN lawn and one safe for kids and pets? Yes!
    New research from the University of Connecticut as part of a New England Cooperative Extension project showed that lawns over 10 years of age need NO fertilizers. Simply leaving your grass clippings provides enough natural nourishment to feed the grass. (Younger lawns may need a little nitrogen.) Plus most lawns don’t need phosphorus – Maine soils are rich in it. So look for Phosphorous Free, P-free or bags marked 10-0-0, and apply half the amount called for on the bag.
    If you are going to apply fertilizer it is best to do so in late summer/early fall when our cool weather grasses have their fall growth spurt. At this time you are feeding the grasses and not the weeds because the weed species are going dormant. Fertilizing in the spring feeds the weeds! Another important rule is not to over-fertilize. Determine the size of your lawn and buy only what you need, storing any extra for next year. Over-fertilizing wastes money and doesn’t improve your lawn.
    What about weeds? First, remember the weeds in your lawn have no associated environmental or health risk, but applying pesticides or weed and feeds (which contain pesticides) does carry risks. But if the sight of weeds in your lawn is really something you can’t stand, there are ways to reduce them. First, as mentioned above, stop feeding them! Only fertilize your lawn in early fall. Second, set the mowing height high, at least three inches. Taller grass shades out competing weeds and protects grass roots from drying out, resulting in healthier grass plants. Over seeding throughout the growing season with perennial ryegrass and fescue also make it tougher for weeds to grab a foothold in your lawn. And as much as we all try to avoid it, simply removing the offending weeds by hand is also effective and has no risk to kids or pets.
    If you feel the need to water your lawn, limit watering to once or twice a week and water deeply encouraging the grass roots to go deep. This will make for healthier grass and thus a healthier lawn.

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