Are you using the 5 step program to fertilize your lawn? Are you using Atrazine? It is Fall. And it is the time of the year when many homeowners and landscapers are applying the last round of chemical fertilizer. We have had a very cold, and dry summer. Many lawns were dormant because of the almost non existent rain during the summer. But after this past, and well needed rain storm, (and together with the warmer temperatures), the grass is starting to grow again. The weed we will most likely see within the next few days is dandelion. Most of the weeds on my lawn are basically gone. Crabgrass is now dead, because it is an annual grass. So, colder temperatures at night, and warm days, makes the grass grown, and outcompete most weeds.
A chemical company spreaded weed and feed on a neighbor’s property last week. She has a dog a two small children. When I asked her what was the product applied on her lawn, she did not know. The chemical applicator left the property, and placed a warning flag advising the home owners, the children, and the dog, not to enter the area. The warning flag did not explained the type of product applied, the name and phone number of the applicator, or any other information regarding the product that was applied that same morning. After some research, we found out the applicator used Weed and Feed. Still, we were not clear if he used 2-4D, or Atrazine.
What is it? Atrazine is a common herbicide, with endocrine disruptor activity. This product was banned in the European Union back on 2004 because of ubiquitous and unpreventable water contamination. A report done by the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), shows that all of the watersheds monitored by the EPA and 90% of the drinking water sampled tested positive for atrazine. What does Atrazine does to your body? It interferes with hormonal activity, and it has been linked to breast and prostate cancer. Atrazine has caused severe health effects on fish and amphibian, since this product stays dissolved in water for several months. It also produces adverse health effects in mammals since Atrazine is decomposed by microorganisms in the soil in around 60 days.
So what are the alternatives? Focus on long term projects for organic land care, and instead of killing weeds chemically using dangerous products, fix the soil. Take a soil sample and see what the soil needs. Add compost to improve the soil. Use calcitic lime to displace dandelions. Reseed your lawn to choke out weeds. Use products that are SAFE for you, your children, pets, and the environment. Read the label. Be responsible, and think about your children before anything is being applied to your garden. Besides, they are the ones that spend time playing outdoors.