The Effect of Pesticides and Chemicals on Kids and Pets

As many of you are already aware, small children are much more adversely affected by pesticides than adults are.  Toddlers may get into the very areas where pesticides reside because they don’t know of the danger.  Animals are just as susceptible because they love to explore and have their noses in the soil and other locations where toxic substances may be present.

Good parents and pet owners do all that they can to prevent children and pets from ingesting anything that poses a threat, but for those with kids and animals present, it is important to realize that it is impossible to monitor every move a youngster or pet makes.  Removing as much of the exposure as possible is the duty of every responsible parent and/or pet owner.

A study at the University of California-Berkley points to an important reason that children should be shielded from pesticides of all kinds.  Adults have a detoxifying enzyme that serves to protect them against some chemicals, but children do not develop this protection until their later years.  Obviously, the youngest children are the most susceptible and most often exposed.

According to the study, children have one third or less of an enzyme called paraoxonase 1 than their mothers.  Although it was already known that there was a deficiency in this respect, it had not been realized that it was this pronounced and that it went as far into childhood as it does.  It had been estimated that children of two had built up the enzyme to adult levels, but this new study indicates that it takes as long as seven years.

Although the study did not include pets, it is known that puppies, kittens, and other young animals are more inclined to catch disease and receive harm from chemicals than the adults of the species. Environmentally conscious individuals already realize that toxic and dangerous pesticides and chemicals are not healthy for both people and animals.

The easiest way to protect children and animals from pesticides is to remove the danger. There are plenty of organically engineered products that work just as well, if not better, than the toxic products on the market.

This is why every organic gardener and/or landscaper refrains from using harmful chemicals.  Every mowing and lawn maintenance professional should look for ways to use fewer chemicals in their profession and provide environmentally friendly landscaping services.

Solar Landscape Lighting – An Eco-Friendly Landscaping Component

Solar lighting as a part of your landscaping plan is an appealing way to provide inexpensive functional low-light illumination for aesthetics and to offer improved mobility in the dark.
Later generation solar landscaping lights can last for years and are easy to replace when they do reach the end of their lifecycle.  How well they work is dependent upon several factors.  Most notably these are:
  1. The type of product that is used – Older model solar lights used incandescent bulbs and the photovoltaic cells and batteries were very limited on longevity.  Most of the first generation models weren’t worth the time it took to put them in the ground.  LED (liquid-emitting diode) lights have a much longer life, and nickel-cadmium or nickel-metal-hydride batteries will recharge many times.
  2. Location of the lights – Because lighting is very low with these units, you should plan to have a sufficient number of them to allow for a person to easily navigate from point A to point B without incident.  Usually, it is a good idea to install them on both sides of a walkway to clearly outline the area of passage.
  3. Feasibility of solar landscaping lights – Not every home is ideal for solar lighting.  Those with a great deal of shade may not allow proper charging of the batteries during the daylight hours.  Placing a light under a bush or a spreading shade tree will most certainly limit the amount of light the unit delivers.
Keep in mind that solar lights will not burn all night in most cases.  If you live in an area with limited sunlight hours, don’t expect the batteries to get a full charge nor burn that many hours after sundown.  Generally solar panels get a longer charge in the summer months than the winter ones, so they will last longer at night during the warmer months.
The best feature about solar landscape lighting is it conserves precious energy by offering a renewable energy source.  Solar lawn and garden lights are sensible environmentally friendly additions to consider in your gardening and landscaping design.

Smart Water Conservation Ideas for Gardening and Lawn Maintenance

Water may be plentiful in some areas of the country, but careful conservation is needed everywhere.  Climate shifts and long dry spells lead to a heavy demand on scarce water resources in many places, and regulations may not allow for the use of water for lawn maintenance or gardens.  Even if water is available for irrigation, it can be very costly when applied inefficiently.

Labor Saving Irrigation Systems – Proper Design is Essential

Irrigation systems are wonderful labor savers for lawn maintenance, but how many of them are properly designed to achieve the best use of the water?  If you drive through Denver and observe some automatic sprinkler systems in operation, you are likely to see water running off in some places.  It is a crime to watch water, which is vital to our existence, flowing into storm drains while the needle on the water meter is rotating.
Water Conversation Tips for Irrigation Systems

Most irrigation plans don’t take into consideration the different types of irrigation needs for different conditions.  The result is that some locations don’t get enough water and others are overly saturated.  Simple water conservation techniques include:
  • Putting water only where it is needed – Sprinkler heads should be carefully adjusted and strategically placed so water is not broadcast into the street and other places it is not needed.  Drip systems use much less water when they can be incorporated into the irrigation system.
  • Monitoring and overriding timed irrigation – Do you ever see irrigation of landscaping taking place during the pouring rain?  This is a criminal waste of water, but it happens all the time.
  • Water at the right time of day – When the heat index is very high, a great deal of the water that is thrown into the air will evaporate before it can do the garden or lawn any good.  You should water when the temperatures are cooler, and give the water time to sink into the soil before the heat starts to rise again.
Get the most from the water you have whether there is a seemingly endless supply or only a little.  Many don’t realize the importance of water conversation until they have to do without. Being conservative of our natural resources is a good habit to develop, and it is a contributing factor to environmentally friendly gardening and lawn maintenance.

Organic Solutions for Vegetable Pests – Environmentally Friendly Protection

Remember the word “vermicompost” because it can significantly reduce the damage your garden receives from gnawing insects.  Vermicompost is worm compost that comes from food waste.  Tests were conducted at Ohio State University to determine if a projected theory was true concerning pest control using this environmentally safe organic product.

Scientists have long suspected that worm compost was a deterrent to certain pests, but this was shown to be very accurate in the tests where plants were exposed to many varieties of insects while the compost was used in different amounts in each test.
While organic pest control is nothing new, it helps to see results based on scientific studies.  In this study, several pests were shown to be less desirous of plants with the compost than those without.
The compost was added to a commercial potting soil and used to plant pepper, tomato, and cabbage plants.  Tests were used without any pesticides and some plants had only the commercial potting soil without the compost.
Comparisons between plants with and without the compost yielded these results:
  • Adult aphids or mealy bugs were added to the environment of the tomato and pepper plants.  The average number of aphids on both pepper and tomato plants dropped significantly on the plants that contained the worm compost.
  • Cabbage caterpillars were given an opportunity to have their way with the cabbage plants, but the leaf damage was much less on plants with the worm compost.
Although the tests did not render a conclusive answer as to why the insects were thwarted from the test plants containing the compost, it is speculative that there may be more than one reason.  Nutrients in the compost could make the plants less attractive to the pests, or because the plants had less stress, they might have had more resistance to infestation.
Organic pest control is not perfect by any means, but neither is chemical related protection.  Relieving pest problems is an ongoing process, and every little bit helps. Having and taking advantage of the ability to use organic means of protection as opposed to toxic methods is yet another way to contribute to an eco-friendly environment.

Tips on Organic Fertilizers – Environmentally Friendly Landscaping

Organic fertilizers increase the storage mechanisms in the soil, and this reduces the risk of placing too much fertilizer on your lawn.  This sounds like a simple concept, but it is one of the most important reasons for going organic in your lawn maintenance process.

In Denver, as well as in other locations across the country, it is important to be aware of safer ways to manage our ecosystem.  We all should be concerned about doing our part toward environmentally friendly landscaping.
Although organic fertilizers might not always be as convenient as some others are, in the long run, they are better for use in your lawn maintenance because they support the role of humus and other natural components in the soil.  Organic fertilizer has many positive effects on the natural order of things such as:
  • It helps to retain moisture in the soil so that lawns aren’t stressed as much during hot dry periods.
  • The soil structure is improved with organic fertilizers unlike the results achieved using powerful chemicals that can detract from some parts of the physical makeup of the soil.
  • It is a preventative in soil erosion, primarily because everything works together naturally and harmoniously.
  • Landscaping profits more from the slow release of fertilizers, and the natural organic fertilizers do just that.  Grass may not green up as fast, but it stays greener and healthier longer.  It reacts with nutrients that already exist in the soil so that lower nutrient densities are needed and fewer are wasted.

Because organic fertilizers work as efficiently as they do, some of the inherent problems of artificial fertilization can be circumvented.  The benefits include:

  • Not fertilizing as much and avoiding having to use stronger artificial fertilizers.
  • The absence of harmful runoff, which can jeopardize the life of fish and other wildlife.
  • Cost savings when organic fertilizer is accessible locally.
Of course, these are not the only reasons for using organic fertilizers, but they are good sound reasons for doing so which is an eco-friendly way to accomplish lawn maintenance tasks. Environmentally friendly landscaping makes the world a better place for everyone.