Roundup is a herbicide manufactured by the much-maligned Monsanto Corporation. It is a glyphosate—the most commonly utilized herbicide to control unwanted weeds. Gardeners use Roundup to prevent dandelions, clover and other unwanted plant species from growing in their lawns.
How Does Roundup Work?
Roundup inhibits a plant from using the EPSP synthase enzyme which it needs to survive. Without this enzyme, the plants are not able to produce essential proteins and slowly die over the course of several days or weeks. The trouble is that Roundup isn’t a very discerning killer. This means that almost all plants are negatively affected by Roundup, even aquatic plants, so lawns sprayed with Roundup may be irreparably damaged.
Is it Bad for Your Health?
The stringent chemical composition of Roundup is known to cause irritation if it comes into contact with skin and eyes, but can it also have long-term health effects for homeowners and their families.
A recent US study found that Roundup was linked to a wide range of ailments including Parkinson’s, infertility and cancers. From the study: “Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body.”
A study, published in Toxicology journal found that Roundup can cause endocrine disruption, damage to DNA and cell death, especially to reproductive cells. While glyphosates are recognized as toxic, the chemicals that they are combined with (solvents and surfactants) are considered harmless and listed as ‘inert’. Their role is to help the glyphosate penetrate plant cells to more effectively kill the cell. These chemicals also work on humans and they help the glyphosates penetrate skin to get to the underlying cells.
From the study: “Clearly confirms that the [inert ingredients] in Roundup formulations are not inert. Moreover, the proprietary mixtures available on the market could cause cell damage and even death [at the] residual levels found on Roundup-treated crops, such as soybeans, alfalfa and corn, or lawns and gardens.”
Is Roundup Safe for my Lawn?
Many gardeners use Roundup to rid their lawns of unwanted weeds with great effect. But for some, the results can be disastrous. Take for instance a client of ours who used Roundup on his lawn to combat weeds. It not only killed his grass, but also seeped into the soil below.
Of course we are able to remedy the situation by replacing the soil and the lawn, but this comes at far greater cost than our more eco-friendly alternatives.
Is there an Environmentally-friendly Alternative to Roundup?
Yes! There are several inexpensive solutions that can help you to keep your lawns beautiful without endangering the grass or your family’s health.
Boiling water: Pour it over leaves and stems of unwanted weeds –a great option for dry areas.
Sweet deal: 1 Cup molasses mixed with 1 gallon of water. Spray or pour on weeds.
Salt and vinegar: Add one part salt to 3 parts vinegar and spray onto weeds with a spray bottle. You can make an even more effective herbicide by adding biodegradable liquid soap.
Salt: Salt is a very effective herbicide, but it can prevent other plants from growing in affected soil, so make sure you keep to the plants or to areas you don’t want any growth. Mix 1 part salt to 3 parts warm water and 1 part liquid biodegradable soap. Spray on weeds or soil with a spray bottle.
Mix ingredients (don’t add water or the soap with foam) and spray or pour on unwanted plants.
Natural Herbicides for Lawns, Paving and Gardens
Want your kids to roll around on the grass and play safely in the garden? Want your backyard to be a haven for pollinators, birds and butterflies? Then we’ve got just what you need – natural herbicides that are eco-friendly, easy and cheap!
I have disparate neighbors; Maria is a sweet old lady who yells at me when I go outside barefoot; “You will get something in your foot and have to go to hospital and then you will die,” she says, waving a gnarled finger in my general direction. Her weed control method involves carpet-bombing the backyard with herbicide, regardless of wind direction or velocity and without wearing any kind of protective wear (except shoes, of course).
My other neighbor is a green living expert who spends most of his days on his little stool, digging weeds up out between flowers and paving stones. He doesn’t mind the time and effort, but I have a short supply of both. So I am determined to be the middle ground between these two extremes and I’ve been trying out some natural herbicides which are working like it’s nobody’s business. Here they are especially for you!
Fire it up:
No kidding! This is the funnest way to rid your garden of weeds ever. Just get a small hand-held propane torch and go to it. (Obvious note of caution for neighboring plants and fire hazards.)
Pour it over leaves and stems to rid your garden of unwanted weeds – this is a great option for dry areas.
1 Cup molasses to 1 gallon of water sprayed or poured on weeds is a great way to give them the boot.
Salt and vinegar:
Add one part salt to 3 parts vinegar and spray onto weeds with a spray bottle. This is a very effective herbicide. You can supersize your herbicide by adding biodegradable liquid soap and citrus essential oils.
Salting the fields:
Salt is a very effective herbicide, but it can prevent other plants from growing in affected soil, so make sure you keep to the plants or to areas you don’t want any growth. Mix 1 part salt to 3 parts warm water and 1 part liquid biodegradable soap. Spray on weeds with a spray bottle.
The ultimate herbicide recipe of all time!
1 gallon of 10% vinegar
1 oz. orange oil
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon liquid soap organic soap
Mix this up (don’t add water or the soap with foam) and say goodbye to unwanted vegetation.
Is your grass looking a little tired and run down? If droughts, insects or neglect have left your grass less than verdant, with sod, you can have it looking lovely and luscious in a single day. Dry lawns lead to soil erosion, dust, allergens and weeds. Once weeds take hold in your lawn, they’re impossible to get rid of. Your best bet is to utilize sod to instantly repair damage or grass over new areas so that you have the very best lawn in the neighborhood because that’s just how you roll.
What are your options?
A great lawn provides a source of fresh air, improves curb appeal and property value and prevents soil erosion and flood damage. If your lawn is having a bad hair day, you can solve the problem instantly with sod. Whether your lawn needs a complete makeover or there are just a few patches that need attending to, sod is the best option for late summer makeovers.
You can use seed to grass over dry patches, but you will have a much longer wait to see results. New seedlings require more care as they need to be regularly watered and may take weeks to become established, leaving your garden vulnerable to erosion and weeds while creating dust-related allergens. Dirt and washouts will mean that your seeded lawn areas will need constant care.
For instant gratification, sod is the best option for resolving your lawn issues. It may cost a little more initially, but it is worth the capital outlay as it instantly improves your curb appeal and cures all your lawn-related woes. Sod requires no special care and its already established so it limits the ability of weeds to invade your now-pristine lawn. Sod will be ready for play in just 7-14 days.
Sod provides the discerning homeowner with a perfect lawn in hours (hours!) and this late in the growing season, is the only way to ensure healthy coverage that will last through the winter for perfect spring lawns in the new year. Sod instantly covers your bare bits and helps to reduce heat and noise while providing you with a beautiful lawn. Get a free quote on sod/lawn repair now.
The benefits of pruning shrubs and trimming hedges
Are you feeling like the world’s closing in on you? With such a wet summer, rampant growth in the garden may be more than you can keep up with. Aside from the aesthetic considerations of curb appeal, there are many other reasons to keep up with your hedge and shrub trimming that have nothing to do with the Joneses.
With a record number of tropical storms and hurricanes slated for this year as well as severe thunderstorms throughout the summer, keeping hedges and shrubs properly pruned will help to prevent broken branches from damaging your home and car. Well pruned shrubbery will also pose less of a threat to family members and passersby as it reduces the risk of flying debris.
Pruning low-hanging branches will clear your walkways for traffic and allow more sunlight into the beds below for other varieties of plants to grow.
A beautifully manicured hedge makes for a gorgeous natural fence. Hedges are far more sustainable and environmentally friendly than manufactured fences, but maintenance can be time consuming and increase your carbon footprint.
Traditional hedge trimming and garden maintenance equipment add a significant amount to our already overdrawn carbon footprint. Lawnmowers in Canada alone add an astounding 2, 100 metric tonnes of greenhouse has and smog-forming emissions; that’s 151 million liters of gas! If you are using an inefficient two-stroke lawnmower, you are emitting as much pollution in an hour as you would when you drive your car 320 kilometers; that almost from Ottawa to Toronto. Gas-powered hedge trimmers are equally inefficient. If you truly want your hedge to be a boon for the environment, use gardening equipment fueled by renewable sources like solar.
A newly trimmed hedge is a sight to behold. Well-trimmed hedges and shrubs provide fantastic features for your garden and will increase curb appeal. Pruning also improves the health of hedges and shrubs. Removing dead, dying or diseased portions of the shrub or hedge prevents diseases from spreading and insects from settling into deadwood.
Pruning diverts energy from producing wood to other plant endeavours. Regular pruning can stimulate the growth of larger flowers, longer stems (ideal for pussy willows) and better fruit.
Pruning shrubs and trimming hedges is an art. Pruning the right way at the right time can enhance plant growth, reduce disease and insect infestations, improve flowering and fruiting and improve the overall health of the plant. Pruning correctly is different for each plant type and it would behoove you to do some research prior to attempting to prune your own shrubs and hedges.
For pruning to be effective you need to do so regularly and it can be very time consuming. If you don’t know how to prune correctly or timeously, you can do more damage than good. In these situations, its best to consult a garden maintenance professional. If correctly maintained, hedges and shrubs can add immense appeal to your garden.
Identifying Opportunities, Key To Success
If many businesses are today complaining of poor performance it is not because of anything but their own inability to find the opportunities that are hanging right before them. You don’t wait for opportunities to come and knock at your doors anymore, you just need to step out to get hold of unlimited opportunities that are all around you. We are not exaggerating here, regardless of your niche if only you keep your eyes and ears open you will certainly find opportunities where your competitors find challenges. If your business is not doing well and if you are afraid of the probable outcome then it is high time that you stopped wearing those glasses of pessimism so that you can start identifying the opportunities that can take your business to a whole new level.
One of the factors that is highly important here is experience with adequate experience you can identify the opportunities before you lot more easily. Experience is something that you can only desire for and time is the answer here. However, this does not mean that you are totally helpless, you need not have to wait for another twenty years to acquire experience in your niche but you can create your own future by making use of the skills and expertise of top experts in the field. One important name to be mentioned here is Sheamus J. MacLean.
Sheamus MacLean is a top business consultant that comes with a vast experience of running his own corporation for more than two decades. His uncanny ability to identify opportunities have helped numerous companies in strategic clients acquisition. If you think you are very limited in terms of experience and every other benefit that is related to experience then here is someone that is willing to share his experience with fellow entrepreneurs. It is only prudent to make use of the skills and the expertise of Sheamus J. MacLean to take your business to the next level. His clients acquisition skills have been proven beyond doubt and he has helped many corporations to experience success within a very short time.
You don’t have the luxury of time to learn from your own experience because every single day you lose in inaction will push you several months back in competition. You should therefore be quick in identifying the opportunities that are before you because if you don’t someone will. Opportunities once lost are lost for ever; if you are the first one to identify the opportunities you certainly have a great leverage in your industry. So do not hesitate to get help from professionals like Sheamus J. MacLean. You will be able to gain great insights into your own business and how to turn it into a money making machine by using the right help.
So stop complaining about your own limitations and your poor performance. Take proactive steps to fight the competition in your industry by identifying the opportunities so that you can get better results with your clients acquisition efforts.
Establishing a New Organic Lawn
When you move in to a new property you may find that you have inherited a garden that is little more than a builder’s site. Many new home builders are careless about the amount of topsoil they leave for new owners, and can take shortcuts by leaving building rubble not far beneath the surface of the lawn, which in turn leaves precious little goodness in the soil, or potential for root growth. If your lawn is not thriving, and you feel you may want to returf, there are some simple measures you can take to ensure that your newly laid lawn survives for years to come.
Whilst most poorly maintained and patchy lawns can be repaired, if you have chosen to re-turf and want to take an organic route you may have to do some hunting around to find a supplier of organic turf. With more and more gardeners choosing to work organically however, you should not have to look too far afield. Whilst you may have financial drains, such as holiday home insurance and mortgage payments to worry about, don’t stint on the choice of turf supplier. Always buy your turf from a reputable and well-established grower, or you will be storing up problems for later. Cheap, low quality turf that is full of weeds will be harder to maintain organically in the future.
The most important element of any type of gardening is soil, and lawns are no different in this regard. Lawns are need lots of nutrients and micro-organism in the soil to thrive and grow a strong root system. Your job as an organic gardener is to make sure the soil on which your new turf is laid is full of food and organic matter for the lawn roots to grow into and feed from. Have a reputable supplier deliver your top soil and add protein fertiliser to it to give it an extra boost. Protein fertilisers are much more plant friendly than chemical fertilisers, which provide a big boost of nitrogen feed to plant, without providing the necessary extras to build a strong, healthy and long living organism. According to Sheamus MacLean of EPA, Chemical fertilisers are the ‘fast food’ of the natural world, providing an instant hit, but providing little long-term gain.
Microbes, in a well maintained and organically rich soil, will naturally aid your lawn with what it needs, without the need for a chemical nitrogen boost. The combine nitrogen with carbon, which in turn prevents the leeching of nutrients away from plants. Microbes can defend against attack from disease and pests, help develop the soil structure and help balance the pH level in the soil. A good organic gardener simply understands the importance of animal life and micro-organism to plant health, and nurtures them. Organic fertilisers feed the microbes in the soil, which boosts their action.
The quickest and easiest way to prepare for laying an organic lawn is to combine pre-prepared compost into the topsoil on which you propose to turf. You can buy bags of organic compost from a garden centre, or have it delivered in bulk. Plan to combine a 50/50 mix of compost to topsoil in the first 4-5 inches of the area to be turfed. This provides a perfect start for your lawn. You will then need to follow standard turf-laying procedures of compacting the soil by walking on it, and levelling out any bumps and hollows. Wait for a few day and see if any major weeds spring up and dig them out immediately, rather than waiting for them to benefit from the nice rich environment you have provided for them!
Ongoing Organic Lawn Maintenance
Once you have your lawn established don’t neglect to fertilise it in the main growing periods. Organic lawn fertilisers are widely available, or you can use a lawn care company to help keep you on track with year round care. The advantage of organic fertiliser is that you cannot overfeed the lawn easily, nor do you have to wait for specific weather conditions before applying it. You should see the benefit of the fertiliser in roughly 2-3 weeks. Not instant greening, such as with a chemical compound, but a far more natural and long lasting benefit. It takes this long for the soil microbes to consume the protein that is contained in organic fertilisers, and convert it into nitrogen. You are working with nature, not trying to force its hand.
Don’t neglect other lawn maintenance processes if you want to help your microbes thrive. Water, and air are two other essentials, and some aeration will do wonders for root growth. You can use a fork and do this in smaller areas, or you may wish to hire a machine to help you with the task over larger areas. If your soil becomes compacted – perhaps by children playing football or running around – this task is particularly important. Soil needs light, air, water and food. Regard your soil as a living thing, alive with life-giving microbes, which you need to nurture. You will soon find that organic lawn maintenance is just as simple as non-organic methods and far more cost-effective.
Recycle your rain water
Install a Rain Barrel and Recycle Your Water
If you’ve wondered if there was a simple way for you to contribute to using water responsibly, then you should consider installing a rain barrel. All of the water that runs off your roof and down through your down spouts, is essentially wasted water. Unless of course you have your downspout drain into one of these elegant water barrels like the one featured above. It is an urn-style rain barrel with planter, and includes a drain hose with shut-off valve, and even gives you a small area at the top to plant some flowers. You can use this water to water your gardens or even wash your car. It makes for a great addition to your garden and we can install one for you on your next service.
What’s the correct mowing height?
We always get asked, “how long should I wait before cutting my lawn?” According to the Cornell University Cooperative Extension, cutting the lawn with a lawnmower set at a proper mowing height can save you from having to bag your grass clippings, even if you don’t own a mulching mower. The rule of thumb suggested by the Cornell Extension is, “Mow when your grass is dry and 3 to 3-1/2 inches tall. Never cut it shorter then 2 to 2-1/2 inches or remove more than one third of the leaf surface at any one mowing.”
The idea behind this mowing tip is that the valuable nutrients in the grass clippings can do your lawn some good, left right where they lie after cutting — as long as their bulk is kept at a minimum. By following this rule of thumb and cutting only about an inch off the top of your lawn at any one time, the bulk of the grass clippings is kept low and your lawn will love you for it.
Electric riding mower ahead of its time
Here’s a product that was slightly ahead of its time–The Electric Ox electric riding tractor. Manufactured right here in Burlington Ontario, it was a truly multi-purpose vehicle built before the green movement became so dominant. The Electric Ox – MP was capable of pushing, mowing, towing, grading a path and throwing snow, even a Mennonite would be proud. It had incredible amounts of torque, capable of pulling 7,000lbs! The patented Quick-Attach system meant you could change attachments not machines to do the next chore. In less than ONE MINUTE, you were off to the next task. Another very cool option was the ability to add an AC Inverter that supplied 3 AC power outlets for cord-bound electric tools that could be used in the remotest areas. Very cool!
The Electric Ox – MP’s unique drive system was the key to its power and long battery life. Using a motor for each drive wheel and an electronic differential, the operator received smooth torque on demand with little energy loss. This allowed the Electric Ox to work all day long without a charge in most towing applications and run up to five continuous hours when mowing.
Unfortunately the company went prematurely bankrupt last year, right before the push for commercial grade electric equipment had become so important to the lawn care industry. There is good news however, we spoke to the former president of the company in the summer, and it looks as though they will be back in 2011 with new funding and an all new Electric Ox! The company will be moving manufacturing to the US, which is a little disappointing, but they will be using Canadian engineering none the less. We had a chance to share some of the challenges that we faced this past summer using consumer grade equipment, and expressed our hopes for their next electric riding mower. If we had our druthers we would like the next Electric Ox to have the following features:
We definitely need a system with swappable batteries. That way, we can charge a second or third set of batteries and simply change them over without having to wait for them to recharge.
We want a mower with a 60″ cutting path and suggest a reel mower setup as opposed to a rotary blade. We believe this would extend the life of the batteries.
We also want a snow thrower attachment so that we can extend our zero emissions service to our snow removal customers.
We look forward to seeing what the industry develops over the winter months. Having commercial grade electric and/or battery powered equipment is a must. Let’s hope the industry is listening.
Using The GrassCutters saves the environment…
The GrassCutters zero emissions lawn care service are proud to announce that we saved 4500lbs of greenhouse gases (CO2) from entering the atmosphere this summer. Using the energy produced by our portable solar generator, we were able to charge all of our electric equipment without the need for a single ounce of fossil fuel. Pretty impressive!
Using the Environmental Protection Agency’s Non-Road Emissions Model, a gas mower used for 25 hours will emit the following each year:
87 pounds of CO 2 — the greenhouse gas Carbon Dioxide
48 pounds of CO — the poison Carbon Monoxide
5.6 pounds of VOC — Volatile Organic Compounds
0.25 pounds of NO x — Nitrogen Oxides
0.02 pounds of SO 2 — Sulfur Dioxide
0.02 pounds of PM — particulate matter linked to heart disease and lung cancer
Something to think about the next time you start the mower and cut your lawn.