Between warmer temperatures and everyone getting stir-crazy in quarantine, it seems like the entire neighborhood is working in the yard. It’s the perfect opportunity to evaluate the products you’re using for yard care and gardening and see if there are better alternatives that can be just as effective without introducing potentially harmful chemicals. We’re far from yard experts, but we have found ‘better choice’ solutions that we recommend adding to your routine.
If there’s an area we really fall short as homeowners, it’s our ability to maintain a lush grassy yard. We struggle with sprinklers, our yard is populated by 2 different types of unruly grass breeds, and if we’re being honest we find that grass is very impractical in the second driest state in the U.S. Despite these logical arguments, we still want to be good neighbors and until we’re able to xeriscape the whole yard, we’re going to have to show our grass a little TLC.
Previously, we used a service for fertilization but found they were both overpriced and contained questionable ingredients. We had concerns about what was in the spray given that our dog loves routinely treating himself to yard foliage.
I was pleased when I discovered Sunday, a non-toxic lawn care subscription that is customized to your soil. The first delivery includes a soil testing kit to get exactly what your yard needs, with solutions made from recognizable ingredients. It’s also a great website and personalized purchasing experience, which we value as a digitally-native brand. We just ordered this, so we’ll keep you posted in a month’s time.
A free method to enhance your soil’s nitrogen is to add packed down leaves in fall before the first snow. Don’t worry if you missed the boat while enjoying your Pumpkin Spice Latte, there’s hope for you with soil amendment. We are in the process of excavating the grass and garden boxes in our backyard and opting for a more maintenance-free solution, so we skipped the garden this year, but we’ll be back with fresh new garden boxes next year and will give this a try.
It’s ubiquitously understood that RoundUp is harmful, but as we’re finding in our yard, weeds are incredibly pesky and require routine pulling. Being a couple that isn’t too fond of weekly weeding, we’re looking to try natural, non-toxic weed killing alternatives. Last year we tried vinegar and not only did it require A LOT of white vinegar, but it also wasn’t a lasting solution. We’re definitely not going to introduce Glyphosate into the proximity of our yard, but we’re on the hunt for something more long-term. Fortunately, our Sunday subscription gave us the option to add on bottles of Weed Warrior and Dandelion Doom which we’ll be using on the trouble areas during our next weekend yard work session (which Jason is already dreading).
Ants & Small Crawlers
After we had a dying tree removed in our backyard last spring (as a precautionary measure because it started dropping limbs) we saw an increase in ant colonies on our back patio. As soon as we noticed we went into overdrive to eliminate the colonies outside by pouring boiling water and vinegar onto them and lined the bottom of the door with a solid layer of diatomaceous earth, or DE (the main ingredient in Dorai products). DE works as the physical level, killing bugs by binding to and drying out their exoskeleton. While this sounds gruesome, we prefer this physical reaction to the paralysis that is invoked by most toxic chemical solutions.
You can purchase a large bag of food-grade diatomaceous earth and sprinkle the powder anywhere you see ants or as a preventative measure. I did also put some inside our house, which was easily vacuumed up after the ants met their fate.
Spiders and Bugs
While I value spiders’ role in the greater ecosystem, I personally do not appreciate them in my house. Last year, when I started to notice more webs on our porch and cart port (which means more creepy crawlers potentially invading our home in the darkness of night when we’re defenseless) I asked Jason to find a comparable natural alternative for spraying around the house without introducing harsh chemicals. We opt not to get the inside of the house sprayed because there is a slight scent to the solutions (from the essential oils), but it’s definitely effective. It’s not as immediate as the more toxic solutions, but within a couple of applications, the number of both spiders and box elder bugs was significantly decreased.
Instead of using harsh chemicals, we found Nature’s Balance, which takes a different approach of using essential oils, mineral plant extracts and habitat modification to yield more eco-friendly pest control. Their site educates us about their organic product mixes which include “botanical oils such as peppermint, wintergreen, rosemary, neem oil, red cedar oil, and other natural products.”