By some estimates, our chemically addicted lawns are as polluting to our health and to waterways as chemical agriculture. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that Americans apply 90 million pounds of pesticides and herbicides every year in order to get lush green yards, and surveys have found that because their use is so heavy, those chemicals can drift into our homes—even if they started out on a neighbor’s lawn and not our own.
However, like many problems for which chemicals seem like a quick, easy fix, lawn problems can usually be corrected without nerve-damaging and ecohazardous chemicals like glyphosate (used in Roundup) and 2,4-D (used in products made by Scotts and Weed B Gone).
Here are some of the most common lawn and yard problems you’ll encounter, what they signify, and how to fix them:
Some weeds you can eat, some weeds are pretty, and other weeds are signs of a problem. If you want your lawn to be healthy, clover is a good weed to have in the landscape. It usually appears when your soil is low in nitrogen levels, but it helps fix the problem by bringing nitrogen to the soil. Solution: Leave it alone! When you mow, the clover clippings will add nitrogen to your lawn, helping to fix the problem without fertilizer.