May 192010

What is sustainable? Making something eco-friendly or healthier for the environment. This benefits people as well because there would be less chemicals, less toxins and less waste. Is this a new concept? Actually, no, if you think back on lectures given to us by grandparents or great-grandparents. How they used to do this…or how they used to save that. The concept is the same. These tidbits of information were time and money saving techniques that were in fact sustainable philosophies.

Our generation is returning to some of these techniques and ways of living. Did people have degrees in botany, agriculture, or chemistry? No, in fact most of their generation was lucky to have finished jr. high or high school. They were too busy helping their families survive the economy. So anything they did had to have a benefit and be cost effective. This included lawn care.

Did they use gas powered machines such as lawn mowers? Doubtful, as they would have been too expensive to buy and run. Remember the old push mowers with the grass catchers in the back? No noxious fumes. No wasting of precious fuels. Electric mowers are more eco-friendly for the same reasons. New studies suggest mowing no more than once every 10-14 days. Your lawn will be less stressed, retain moisture, and have a chance to reseed itself thus creating a thicker coverage. More than likely gas or electric powered trimmers weren’t buzzing to tidy up yards. They used good old-fashioned trimming shears. But if you hate trimming, merely dig out borders around trees, flowerbeds, and sidewalks. This takes a bit of work with a shovel or trowel the first time but, grass and weeds are slow to fill in these areas.

Herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers were homemade or not used at all. Weeds were more than likely dug out by hand with a pocket knife or a weeding tool. ( Dandelions were used in salads and other dishes as a cheap but nutritious food source. We now know this to be true especially of the flowers and leaves.) You can coexist with the weeds unless there are specific ordinances in place for certain or all species. Insects can be eliminated using kitchen ingredients. Soapy dish water is one example and it has been used for generations as well as salt water solutions. ( One tbls. of salt to a 1/2 gallon of water. ) Many homemade fertilizer recipes include products containing citrus because it is one of many natural ingredients that avert insects. If houseplants or garden plants are being ravished by mites, aphids or other insects just spray lemon juice on them. The insects will disappear. Must reapply every week or when insects are noticed to have reappeared.


1 cup of beer – 1 cup of soda ( non-diet)

1 cup of ammonia (lemon scented) – 1 cup of lemon scented dish soap ( not antibacterial )

1 cup of miracle grow or an equal amount of fertilizer spikes.

Mix in a 5 gal. bucket and use an hose end attached sprayer. This will cover 5000 sq. feet.

The carbohydrates in the beer and soda are natural nutrients as well as the organic compounds that the miracle grow, fertilizer spikes and ammonia provide. The dish soap and lemon are pesticides. This formula can be reapplied every 3-4 weeks.

Watering is another sustainable issue. Some communities have set specific days of the week as well as specific times of day and how long a watering device can run. Early morning as well as evening hours are suggested to discourage less evaporation and better absorption rates. Recommendations include watering well no more than twice a week and to allow at least 1 inch of moisture each watering session. You can use a rain gauge to monitor how long this takes to accomplish on one spot of your yard. Now there are underground sprinkling systems and timers eliminating virtually any work involved. This method is not always affordable and many hose end sprinklers are still in existence.

Leaves were raked by hand and depending on the type of rake used, thatching was accomplished at the same time. Kids to this day cannot resist jumping into a pile of leaves and often times are willing to help for that very reward. Sustainable planning includes converting leaves and grass clippings into compost for next year’s garden. This can be accomplished by obtaining a commercially manufactured or constructing a homemade compost bin. By merely layering the material onto the garden and flower beds, moisture is maintained and weed growth is discouraged for the start of the following growing season. In the spring mix the accumulated waste into the soil.

Modern technology has made sustainable living easier in some ways but it has also contributed to the pollution we now must be concerned about removing. There are “old days” methods being intertwined into our “new ways of thinking” that will undoubtedly benefit our planet. Maybe we should try to “keep it simple” and remember that “less is more” when trying to resolve our ecological issues.

Author: Mary Heilbrun
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Mary Heilbrun

  One Response to “Experiencing Information Overload While Learning Sustainable Lawn Care?”

Comments (1)
  1. Great information! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now. Thanks!


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