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convincing people toxic gick in lawns is a real problem?

 
Cassie Langstraat
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Hi Diane,

I am sure you guys at The Great Healthy Yard Project do presentations on this all the time and so I am wondering what simple facts or statistics I could tell my family that continues to use toxic stuff on their lawns and in their gardens. Something that would really blow their mind and make them realize this is a serious issue.
 
Susan Sullivan
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Hi Cassie,
Here's a link to a report on the pollution that affects the Chesapeake Bay: http://www.environmentmaryland.org/reports/mde/urban-fertilizers-chesapeake-bay . The upshot is that 30% of the phosphorus load and 10% of the nitrogen load comes from turf, and the turf portion of the land use is increasing. I don't know what the figure would be nationally.

Susan
 
                    
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I'm not trying to persuade anybody to do anything, not even those that spend money on a beautiful lawn.

But I have an opinion about toxic gick, and personally I won't use it. The primary reason for me to not buy or use toxic gick is based on an economic prinicipal. That is, that toxic gick is deemed much more valuable than human labor, always has been, even back to whenever it was created. Toxic gick has replaced more than 100 labor hours, nay a thousand, nay a million, nay...well you get the point.

So how many labor hours would it take to grow an average size weed free lawn? I'll keep it really simple, and not even figure in the mowing, feeding, watering, leaf raking, or any of those normal expenses of the lawn, just the simple task of locating & removing all the unwanted weeds that grow in a lawn...how many labor hours, per week?

Obviously it would be least labor intensive to weed a new lawn, so lets consider a 'new lawn' as the easiest, as most new lawns are double or triple over-sown (to crowd out weeds) with the preferred seed, and the ground would be somewhat friable from the recent planting disturbance, and other improvements to the ground (so digging weeds should be fairly quick). And yet I would quess 2 labor hours per week would be required, just to identify & remove weeds.

And 1 week would not be 'it', as various weeds germinate/grow at different times, spring time might require another hour per week as many weeds take huge advantage during the spring. Some weeks in mid to late summer may not even require 2 labor hours, although fall season/early winter might require purposeful weeding similar to the spring time weeding labor hours, that is if your program expects to stay well ahead of any weed problems.

Well I could go on & on about this & that, (with examples) but, how many 'professional lawn weeders' have you heard of? the answer might be none, because the lawn gick has completely wiped out that type of labor. Did you ever notice that the 'weed guy' that has the small tanker truck with hose reels & blades of grass painted on the tank...did ya ever notice, he is always alone? hahaha Now a-days it is rare for a facility that has gardeners, not to include lawn gick as part of their program.
Have you ever heard of a golf course hiring a weeder? Or how about the National Forest, have they hired people to weed out those invasive things growing in the forest? Care to consider how your state highway dept. controls weeds? The answer should be obvious, to those large scale management styles, their practices intentionally include lawn gick for one reason only: 'economic principal'.

james beam



 
Diane Lewis
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Hi Susan,

Your statistics are similar to those nationwide. A 2013 study by the EPA found enough fertilizer in half of the streams, lakes, and rivers nationwide and up to 71% of those in the Northeast and Midwest to be deemed of poor quality to support life. Studies by the USGS found small amounts of at least one pesticide, often more, in almost every stream, lake, and half of the groundwater well tested. These chemicals are both from farms and residential properties, but 54% of the land in the US is residential, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service says homeowners use 10X more of these products per acre than farmers. These chemicals aren't removed by treatment-the only way to keep them out of our water is not to use them. And it is really easy not to use them!
Cassie, two article that I wrote that I think are really convincing that you could show them are
"The Toxic Brew in Our Yards," The New York Times Sunday Review, May 11, 2014
http://goo.gl/SCc4uv
"Are green lawns worth the risk of green lLake Erie water and toxic algae?" Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 9, 2014
http://goo.gl/QFty1o


Diane
 
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