Friday, April 21, 2006

Turf Wars

Get ready people! This is a big issue for me, and I intend to be blogging a lot about it, now that spring is here.

I am talking about *gasp* Pesticides on the Lawn!!!

All across our fair nation, municipalities are involved in huge civil wars regarding whether or not to implement pesticide by-laws and/or bans on lawns. In our area, the regional government has opted for a compromise policy to be implemented next year (more on that in a future post).

My personal opinion is that if pesticides are so bad, why are they for sale on store shelves??? Let's not just ban the use of them; let's ban them from being sold in whichever municipality has a total ban. So why isn't that being done? Answer: Because they haven't been proven to be harmful when properly applied.

I as a homeowner feel that I should have the right to use the services of a professional lawn company which strictly adheres to the local laws and responsible application of the pesticides. I agree that Joe Blow down the street that smothers his lawn with something bought off the shelves might be posing a health concern. But companies that properly administer the chemicals, in addition to seeking to use environmentally-friendly alternatives wherever possible, should be allowed to continue providing their services.

The loud-mouthed, wacko, junk science tree-huggers are the real problem.


Island Girl said...

I half agree with you, if you want to use the pesticides then you probably should call a professional company to do it properly... but how safe is that really? When you have to put signs on the lawn saying "DO NOT STEP ON GRASS" and can clearly smell the fumes from 10 houses away, is that really good for our health??

Clearly I am not the best person to be playing devils advocate as I don't even own my own home (yet) but it's just a thought.

Nick said...

In Quebec 9as usual) pesticides have been banned. What is being used sounds like something in a homemade jam, liquid sugar beet extract, molasses, soybean oil, etc (I kid you not).

Surprisingly, it works, all be it slowly.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Good point, Island Girl.

Not all lawn companies are the same. Some practice methods that are far more responsible than others.

We hire a company that is very careful not to spray on windy days, and never does that kind of spraying where everything on the property is covered, including the car and driveway! They also try to use granular methods wherever possible, which reduces the smell and spray factor.

Nicki - Isn't that concoction an ant magnet??

Are all pesticides banned in Quebec including in stores?

Riley Hennessey said...


I also definitely agree you should be able to use a professional lawn company. Problem I have with chemicals on the lawn is it usually means my dog can't go anywhere near my lawn for 3 or four days, a rule which undoubtably gets broken, my dog goes on the lawn and often gets sick.

Pesticides surely aren't good but I agree they aren't the end of the world. I am just surprized that no one has come up with anything else (aside from the molases post) to be as effective without killing other things.

However, my family uses a company to treat our lawn just like everybody else does so I can't pretend to be against pesticides. And Joanne is right, some people are just retarded and end up making a mess of their lawn with cheap, brutal pesticides.

But like I said, until some genius comes up with something that works better, is just as affordable, and proves that over the counter pesticides are killing us all, I say long live people who spray their lawns in June.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Thanks for your input, Riley. I see this as sort of a "rights" issue - the right of the property owner to look after their investment. The fine line is where what I am doing adversely affects my neighbour.

BTW, doggie-do from other people's dogs on my lawn is a bit of a health hazard for me, as are cat turds in my garden. Should we be banning pets?

Chuckercanuck said...

Hey, I hate lawns, let alone pesticides. They are such a pain to maintain. So, I am, year by year, taking more of my lawn and converting it to other ground cover.

Ban pesticides is something I support.

Nick said...

"Isn't that concoction an ant magnet??

Are all pesticides banned in Quebec including in stores?"

Yes, but it has kept them out of my house!

I'm not certain. I'll have a look at my next trip to Home Depot.

Ron said...

Why are pesticides still allowed on the shelf? Because their use is controlled by the municipal governments while their sale is controlled by the federal government.

Platty said...

This is exactly why I live 10 kms outside the city limits..

Of course, the farmer next to me is probably spraying chemicals on his field that would eat through my tinfoil hat, but, as long as I think I'm better off....

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Sorry CC if you think I was calling you one of those wacko tree-huggers.

Nick, thanks for checking into that for me about pesticides being available in stores. The ant thing I must try.

Ron, seems to me there is a disconnect there somewhere if the municipalities can ban something that is legally available to purchase. How does that make any kind of sense?

Platty, interesting that you should mention pesticide use on farms. That will be the subject of a future post.

Chuckercanuck said...

joanne (TB),

I was in San Antonio talking to a 400 lb football player fro TCU. I said, "Texas is beautiful. Austin particularly."

He grumbles, "yeah, its pretty, but they got tree huggers up there."

I said, "tree huggers in Austin? Nothing like the tree huggers up where I'm from."

He smiled sympathetically and said, "yeah, I know. Want to for some BBQ?"

ahhhh, slow-cooked shoulder clod.

Mary said...

Laughed out loud at the last line in your post Joanne!

vicki said...

cc...we live out 'in the country' too. We have never made a big deal of our lawn.We have just enough to make paths in between the gardens. Just curious there a lot of pressure in the city to have a perfect lawn, or is it just a personal thing to have no 'pests' in the lawn.And do you stress over weeds or little critters?Even some gardening books are reccommended less attention on the lawn.
I'm no tree hugger, but the less I have to do with chemicals the better.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Vicki, it's more about being able to intercept an insect invasion or something that could totally wipe out your lawn. It is a very costly thing to replace. We try to keep the grass thick and high, so as not to allow weeds and such to get in, but if something like grubs get a foothold in your lawn, it could be destroyed.

It's interesting that being for or against pesticide use does not necessarily co-relate with political persuasion, if these comments are any indication.

vicki said...

oops...that was platty that lives 10k out...we are like cc...getting rid of the lawn for gardens...and we use a pushmower for the lawn that is gas, no noise,good workout, and good for the enviro!!That lawn 'death' happened to my was nasty.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

So, Vicki. You are turning your lawn into garden. What do you grow in your garden?

And how do you get rid of the weeds?

Mac said...

Municipal rules can get pretty odd. When I moved to the Greater Vancouver area, the place I bought had piles of brush and deadfall from the trees. Being a good old fashioned country lad, I gathered it up and started burning it.

No sooner was the pile burning up nicely then a neighbour came running over, figuring the world was coming to an end. After I escorted the raving fool off my property (lesson 1- keep the gate closed) I went back and kept piling deadfall on the fire.

A few minutes later, up rolls the fire department, no doubt called by our friendly neighbourhood raver. I was informed there is a bylaw ban on burning deadfall or other garden refuse (I didn't have a garden!) but I was allowed to have a tiny fire for purpose of cooking. (lesson 2- always have hotdogs available)

I pointed out the mounds of brush and asked what I was supposed to do with this kind of debris. Tie it up into bundles which weigh less 50 lbs and set it at curbside, the fireman told me. I was flabbergasted!!

Long story short, I ended up hauling literally tons of dead fall, stumps, brush & rotton wood to the local "green" dump. More fun than anyone should have.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Mac, that's a great story! Thanks for sharing. It sounds similar to our regional yard waste rules that say you pretty much have to wrap the tree limbs up in a bow tie before they'll take it at the curb (after being duly measured of course.)

Yeah, next time, just roast some wienies.

Mac said...

I didn't mention the root rot problem which meant almost all of those beautiful trees I had ended up being ordered removed by the city. My parklike backyard got flattened. Lesson 3- hire an arbourist to inspect trees if they're important to you.

vicki said...

We grow every flower possible,and a few veggies.
Pull and dig, dig and pull, pull and dig.(while I think about politics)
It' very therapeutic! lol

Mac said...

My wife does the gardening except when it comes to stuff that makes her sweat. Then it's my job. sigh. Her zen apparently includes dirty fingers but not sweat... or at least her sweat.

I call it the Honeydew List...

Joanne (True Blue) said...

lol! Mac, that's cute about the Honeydew list. Sounds like you and your wife have things worked out well.

Do I understand you correctly that the city ordered your trees removed that were on your own property?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Vicki - "It' very therapeutic!"

And a good work-out! So what do you do about pests (of the insect and rodent variety?)

Mac said...

It wasn't an order; they "recommended" it after we applied for a permit to remove a couple which were too close to the house for my comfort. My fault, really.

The arbourist pointed out the rootrot which is apparently a fungal problem common in this area. Stupid me mentioned this at city hall and one thing lead to another. 50+ trees later, my private backyard isn't private anymore.

We've planted a cedar hedge but it'll take a few years before it fills in enough to provide privacy.

To make matters worse, last year the city installed sidewalks in the front of our house and removed our hedgerow of 35 year old cypress which were planted when the house was built. The trees, according to the contractor, were planted outside our property line.

I was out of town when my wife called me, crying on the phone. When I got home, nothing but stumps. I searched out the pegs and the trees were on the line, not outside of it. Strangely enough, the contractor didn't offer to replace the trees. We planted cedars again, well inside the line.

We still have privacy on both sides but the front and back are open until the ceders fill in. sigh...

vicki said...

joanne...biggest pest is the dog...I think she is trained now. We used to gather potato bugs and put them in a can and burn them. We made a mix of small amt dish soap in a spray bottle to fight the bugs in the cabbage. Moles have the run of the lawn all winter...looks ugly,but dissappears with raking.Marigolds on the edge of the garden are pretty and they help keep bugs off the tomatoes.Chili powder and moth balls keeps and chipmunks away from the fall bulbs.And the far aren't on my bad list.
If only I could figure out what to do for the Lib. MP and the Lib

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Vicki - Thanks for those tips! I'll give them a try. As for the Lib politicians, I hear ya!!

vicki said...

joanne ..I forgot another good one. Slugs like beer. Sink a plastic dish in the garden,levl with the soil. Fill half way with the suds and watch the slimy guys run in for a swim...gotta keep the dog away from it.
Happy Gardening!

Mac said...

Waste beer on the slugs? I'd be more worried about the husband than the dog!

Do either of you have a rhubarb patch? You've no doubt heard that rhubarb leaves contain poison. Did you know that if you boil the leaves in water, you can use the liquid as an environmentally friendly insecticide? I don't have rhubarb but my parents used to do this.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Mac - Too funny!! I agree about the beer! Hey, I've got rhubarb! Is that true about it being an insectide, because the leaves of my plants get eaten by slugs or something! Lots of holes by mid-summer.

Mac said...

insecticide recipe

As much as I slag the CBC at any and every opportunity, here's a link to 'em... and a copy in case the link stinks.



Pesticide recipes

CBC News Online | May 23, 2003


There are lots of organic pesticides now available at lawn and garden centres, but many can be made easily at home. While these natural mixtures are biodegradable, use them sparingly, since they will kill the good bugs such as spiders and ladybugs, along with the bad ones.

Rhubarb insecticide

Boil 500 grams of rhubarb leaves in a few pints of water for about 20 minutes, allow to cool, then strain the liquid into a suitable container. Add some dish detergent or soap flakes (not laundry detergent!) and spray on leaves to kill off all kinds of bugs like aphids and spider mites. * NOTE: Rhubarb leaves contain high amounts of oxalic acid. If ingested, your heart will stop and you will die.

Garlic and soap insecticide

Pulverize in a blender a couple of whole cayenne peppers, a large onion and a whole bulb of garlic with a little water. Cover this mash with a gallon of water, let stand 24 hours and strain. Spray daily on roses, azaleas, and vegetables to kill an infestation of bugs. Don't throw away the mash; bury it among the plants where insects occur.

All-purpose weed killer

Boil a litre of water, add 2 tablespoons of salt and 5 tablespoons of vinegar. Pour directly on weeds on sidewalks, driveways, etc. while still hot.

Animal repellent sprays

Cats: two parts cayeene power, three parts dry mustard powder, five parts flour and add sufficient water.

Dogs: mix together one garlic, one medium onion, one litre water and 15 ml Tobasco sauce.

Squirrels: blend together 15 ml Tobasco sauce and chili powder, 5 litres water and a dash of dish soap.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Thanks,Mac. Let's see now - mashed garlic, onion, chili powder, tabasco, cayenne. That should keep the whole neighbourhood away; not just the pests! Phew!!

Seriously, thanks. I'm going to give that a try. Just a little worried about the stewed rhubarb leaf concoction though. Can be fatal if ingested? Isn't that a tad more dangerous than pesticides?

vicki said...

thanks mac...we have lots of rhubarb.I'll try you think we can trust anything from the CBC??