Sometime in the late-70’s we saw the widespread emergence and acceptance of home lawn care featuring “blanket spray” treatments for home lawns, using a steady dose of fertilizer and insecticides.
Keeping up with the Joneses next door became the standard.
A lush green lawn, without a single weed or brown spot, became the goal.
So much liquid nitrogen was being applied 40 years ago, that you could easily overflow a full-size pickup truck’s 8-foot bed with bagged grass clippings, just from the weekly mowing of a 10,000 square foot lawn in Springtime. Some lawns were growing so fast they should have been mowed twice a week. We began seeing dead birds in the week following blanket sprays of lawn insecticides for chinch bugs and other lawn insects.
It was all licensed and legal, while literally being “overkill.” If you were to believe my former turfgrass professor at Penn State, a Pennsylvania lawn did not require any nitrogen fertilizer until June, but homeowners began to love that early-Spring ‘green-up’ and lawn care companies thrived on early and steady cash flow. Four applications became the standard, perhaps even five if treating for grubs or applying a ‘winterizer.’
Heavy doses of quick-release nitrogen, which creates that rapid growth and green-up, makes them more susceptible to some lawn diseases, and also contributes to the development of lawn thatch. ‘Thatch’ is a thick carpet-like layer, that becomes home lawn enemy No. 1, when it thickens to over 1/2-inch (1.27 centimeters).
Insecticides have come and gone over the years, and this latest ban involves chlorpyrifos which is the active ingredient in Dursban Pro. While the latest ban seems to reflect mostly on food crops, it was also widely used for residential insect control until banned for household use in 2001. There are huge concerns about the risks it poses risks to children and farm workers.
“Exposure to low levels of the pesticide in early life can lead to increased risk of learning disabilities, including reductions in IQ, developmental delay, and behavioral problems, such as ADHD. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s own scientific analysis showed that the amount of chlorpyrifos ingested by young children through sprayed fruits and vegetables could exceed safety levels by 140 times.” Source
California, Hawaii, New York, and Maryland didn’t wait for the EPA ban to protect the health of their children and workers.
Does your lawn have to be “perfect” or can you accept having some weeds and brown spots?Bobscaping
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