Is it just me or does anyone else go bonkers when they hear leaf blowers? First of all, I can’t stand how loud they are, but secondly they emit strong, gaseous fumes. I find myself wondering, how hard is it to pick up a rake and use a little elbow grease to clean up your lawn? I realize this is easy for me to say, given that I have a small lawn, but I relish the time I spend raking my grass, which is great exercise and the only way to get the bigger twigs and branches too. Thinking about this made me ponder other ways to naturally care for the lawn, which is not only better for the environment but also better for little feet running all over the place.
When I was a child, my grandfather used to have a non-electric lawn mower that looks something like this:
Now they have modernized this machine and it is widely available at places like Home Depot or Lowe’s. Ask your local hardware store if you don’t have a major chain retailer near you or you can order one online-check out this website called Clean Air Gardening. In fact, the model above is from this website and is called the “Prison Reel Mower” because apparently it is the preferred mower used by prisons. I wonder what that says about my grandfather!
After thinking about getting a non-electric mower for a few minutes, I went out and bought a Scott brand mower and love it.
Scott’s has tons of non-electric push mowers like the one pictured here.
Here’s why it is better than gas-powered:
- No pollution. Either in the air or on the ground from gas spillage.
- No noise. You can push this thing around in the middle of the night and no one would hear you.
- It’s cheaper. You don’t have to keep purchasing gas to make it run. All you need is you.
I’ll admit, there are downsides. It doesn’t do as good of a job as an electric mower. There are these long pieces of grass on my lawn that smell like green onions and look like chives (maybe they are?) and the push mower doesn’t stand a chance against these. You can’t get sharp corners and edges either, but I guess you could always keep an edger around for those jobs. When I noticed my lawn looked great, but not nearly as perfectly manicured as my neighbor, I had to ask myself, “who cares?” It looks good enough and it’s worth it. Since then, I have also discovered a battery powered mower from Neuton, which I think is not as extreme as the non-electric, but much more earth- friendly that then gas powered.
A battery powered lawn mower from Neuton
Ed Begley, Jr is known for his taking his environmentalism to the extreme. I remember reading once how horrified he was that his wife used a hair dryer. I had to sympathize with her over that one. But the man does make a few good points. For one, he got rid of his lawn completely, because he can’t justify the massive amount of water he would waste just watering the lawn. When you stop and think about it, it is crazy. I mean I know I leave the sprinkler going for a good half hour at a time and think nothing of it. But since the reality is, I do have a lawn, front and back to boot, how can I take care of it without harming the environment , including my family?
For one, I turned a large portion of the yard into a garden so I not only got rid of grass, which is sort of pointless, but I am actually making a productive use of the space. My kids and I have a ball with that garden and it is wonderful having home grown veggies and fruits.
For the grass part of the lawn, we use corn gluten as a weed control and pull out weeds regularly so they don’t have a chance to spread. You really have to get in there and pull the weeds out from the roots, and you may even use a special tool to do so. You can also use a product called Milky Spore to control beetles. Earth Easy Shop is a great website for these products and more like them.
There’s a company called Organic Lawns for America which is a website and a service that helps you treat your lawns naturally and without pesticides. Not only do the pesticides affect the air around the actual lawn that’s been treated, but the site goes on to explain that even our fish are being hurt by the pesticide run-off that is getting into the sewage system and then into our rivers. OLA explains, as do other sources, that you need to first treat the soil by making sure the PH levels are in line and that there is enough acidity and aeration. Good soil is the key to a great lawn. This is true of a garden too. It all begins with the soil.
You can get active beyond your lawn too by signing this petition the National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns is circulating. This website also has tons of facts around why pesticides are bad and things you can do to treat your lawns naturally. Safelawns.org is another great site, full of information.
Gardener’s Supply Company is one of my favorite sites for gardening tools and equipment. They have a whole section on organic products to treat your lawn and garden, including organic fertilizers and pest and animal repellents.