Do you have pets but still crave a lush green lawn? Be careful how you go about it.
A newly published study (Abstract of Environmental Health 112(1): 171-6 (Jan. 2012), shows a link between lawn chemicals and cancer in dogs. In the study, researchers identified 263 dogs with biopsy-confirmed canine malignant lymphoma (CML), 240 dogs with benign tumors, and 230 dogs undergoing surgeries unrelated to cancer. Then, they asked the pet owners to complete a 10-page questionnaire.
Scientists found that dogs with malignant lymphoma were 70 percent more likely to live in a home where professionally applied lawn pesticides had been used. Dogs with serious malignancy were also 170 percent more likely to come from homes where owners used chemical insecticides.
Still want a green lawn without the chemicals? Here are some safe and organic lawn care tips from Leah Zerbe of Rodale:
- If you’re tempted to coat your lawn with chemical fertilizers to give your grass a boost before guests arrive, don’t. For non-toxic lawn nourishment, broadcast one-eighth to one-quarter of an inch of high-quality compost over your lawn using a shovel. Compost nourishes beneficial soil microbes and doesn’t contain harsh salts the way many chemical fertilizers do, and you could see some improvement in just a few days.
- Instead of reaching for Roundup or other harmful synthetic pesticides to kill weeds creeping up through sidewalk or driveway cracks, try using BurnOut, an organic weed killer made of food-grade vinegar and clove oil. Just be sure to spray it directly on weeds on a warm, sunny day for the best effect. You can also use BurnOut to quickly and organically kill weeds in the yard; however, it will temporarily leave a brown spot, and you’ll need to reseed the area to shade out new weed growth. (You might want to save that project for after your guests leave.) Smallwood recommends reseeding with Pearl’s Premium grass seed. It thrives without
chemicals,and once established, you don’t ever have to water it.
It’s also wise to avoid cocoa bean shell mulch in your gardens—it’s potentially toxic to pooches.
You can have a green lawn and healthy pets at the same time. Just make sure you avoid the chemicals!