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4 Ideas for Non-Toxic Yard Care

As I mentioned last week, we’ve recently put in a small lawn and have been looking into ways to take care of our yard with non-toxic techniques.

Sometimes I feel like it would be “easier” to just go with more conventional methods to care for landscaping but my desire to create a safe yard for my kids coupled with my desire to care for creation just won’t let me give in. With a little time and effort, there are ways to have a greener (yep, pun intended) yard.

Mow the Old-Fashioned Way

When we were planning a lawn, we definitely wanted to forgo using a gas mower. With such a small space to maintain, it made sense for us. In addition to not burning unnecessary gas (and therefore polluting the air), using a push mower also gives my hubby a little exercise since it takes a bit more energy to push, and it leaves the grass clippings on the lawn which helps prevent weeds.

Fight Weeds Naturally

Don’t spray, pull! Getting down on your hands and knees and pulling weeds is an imperative part of the non-toxic yard. But you can also help yourself (and your back) out by mulching, not letting weeds go to seed, and by using corn gluten, which is a natural substance that inhibits the formation of roots  in weeds.

Photo by Field Outdoor Spaces

Collect Rainwater

If you live in an area where summer rains are common, you might as well collect some of that rain to water your yard or garden with! We get rain about once a summer so it’s a no-go for me in Southern California, unfortunately.

Just be sure to check with your HOA first. When I lived in a master-planned community in Colorado, a friend looked into it and the HOA claimed that they “owned” the water so he wasn’t allowed to collect. Sounded a little fishy to me… If it’s permitted though, this would be a great way to reuse water that might otherwise just wash down into a storm drain.

Use Native Plants

Growing plants that were designed to live where you do is great for the environment. According to NC State University, native plants are beneficial to wildlife and preventing the introduction of invasive plants. They also tend to require less maintenance and blend in nicely in your community. Head to your local nursery for advice on what plants are native to your area.

I also wanted to mention a book that was recommended by Simple Organic reader, Kika, called Eco-Yards: Simple Steps to Earth-Friendly Landscapes. I haven’t read it myself, but it looks like a great resource!

What are your techniques for keeping your yard beautiful yet non-toxic? Do you employ any of these methods?

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  1. katie

    really good ideas Nicole. I like the idea of Use Native Plants. this is what I do and it works best.

  2. Stacy

    These ideas seem really doable.

    I love collecting rain water just because it’s always fun to see how much it actually rained! the kids always like this too. (I’ve never heard of not being allowed to collect rain water. That is crazy! Some places have too many rules!)

  3. Jacqui

    What good ideas!!! Anybody know how to dissuade snails from making a meal of my plants in a humane way??


    • Kathryn

      My grandfather had a trick for dealing with slugs and snails. Next to the plants the slugs/snails like to eat, bury a shallow container so that the rim is level with the ground. Fill the container to the brim with beer. Slugs/snails are attracted to the beer, and they fall into the container and drown. It’s not terribly humane, but it’s pretty effective.

  4. Ben

    My struggle is with bugs. It’s hard keeping bugs under control without chemicals. I’ve done some testing of organic pesticides like vinegar and other sprays, and a lot of them seem to work really well though. I agree with you that the best way to deal with weeds is to just pick them. I’ve not thought about collecting rain water before for watering. That’s a great idea.

  5. Carmae

    Up until 2009, it was illegal here in Colorado to capture rainfall. Water rights in Colorado is a very touchy subject for some. Due to our obligation to provide water to others downstream, there’s a whole slew of regulations attached to the H2O in our state. Even now that it is half way ok to collect raindrops there are still stipulations on who can and what you can use it for. Here’s a link to more info.

  6. Kathryn

    We’ve found that one of the best eco-friendly ways to keep our lawn healthy is by using a mulching mower. It recirculates the cuttings through the blades so they get very small, then redistributes the cuttings back over the grass to act as fertilizer. You can get mulching mowers of every kind: manual, gas- or electric-powered, and riding mowers. In our experience, this method usually makes the grass so healthy that it needs little to no fertilizer, weed treatment, or water.

  7. Lorarian89

    Great tips!!! we always try to collect rain water to water our loan with!

  8. barak

    Thank you for all the lovley ideas to make my garden a safer place for the earth and for my children. Using a push mower will defintly make me muscular. And using a native plants is the best thing to do for your enviorment and for yourself.

  9. Mark

    thanks for sharing this! Really useful

  10. Isobel

    What an idea? “HOA claimed that they “owned” the water so he wasn’t allowed to collect.” I’m sorry it really sounds new to me and is fishy indeed.
    I do this tip on collecting rain water because it can save me on water bill.
    Thanks for sharing these gardening tips and your advocacy for a greener yard. Keep it up! 🙂

  11. Sonia

    I think collecting rainwater should be made mandatory in places where summers are quite common. With scientists predicting that our planet Earth will be facing acute water crisis by 2025, I think its time for us to do this small change to save our planet.

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