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Can A Yard Be Maintained In An Environmentally Friendly Manner?

We live in a society that is continually making slow strides to becoming more environmentally friendly. In the real estate world, a homeowner can be more environmentally conscious through their choice of materials for the home, the style of home they have, and the appliances they use. These different methods have proven to be successful. When it comes to a yard, the question remains, can a yard be maintained in an environmentally friendly manner? Yes, the more environmentally friendly methods are going to be better for the environment. But do these methods actually maintain the yard? Do they take care of the weeds? Do they help keep the pests away? Do they help fertilize?

The majority of scientists will argue that the organic method of maintaining a yard is not as beneficial as using the traditional methods. Here is an analysis of a few environmentally friendly methods that have been used to help maintain a yard, and why or why not they should continue to be used.

  1. Weed Killers:

    • Hot water. This method is cost efficient, but not necessarily productive or time efficient. The goal is to pour hot water over weeds to kill them. Does it work? Boiling hot water is going to kill the surface of the weed, but it will not kill the root. Depending on whether you have surface level weeds or weeds with deep roots, it may or may not take care of the problem. In addition, pouring hot water over a weed is not selective. Therefore, as you attempt to pour hot water on a specific weed, you could also be killing the grass and other plants that surround the weed.
    • Salt. A natural mineral, salt can be used to kill unwanted plants. It is best used when it is mixed with water, then applied to the ground directly around the undesirable plant. The salt is going to dehydrate the plant and change the composition of the soil surrounding it. It can have a harsh effect on the plants and ground, meaning you only want to use it directly on the weed. If used in small areas, the next rain will wash the salt out, allowing you to potentially grow flowers or other plants in that area. However, if used in large quantities and widespread, the salt could cause you to be unable to grow anything else in that area for a substantial amount of time. Salt is cheap and productive, but if used unwisely, could leave long lasting damage.
    • Vinegar. Also used as a weed killer, the acid found in vinegar dehydrates the weed. When wanting to use vinegar to kill weeds, most people go to the local general store to purchase a bottle of vinegar. However, the vinegar that is found in most general stores is only going to be made of about 5% acetic acid. With this type of vinegar, you are only going to be able to kill already weak weeds. If you are looking to kill all of your weeds, vinegar with a stronger concentration of acetic acid is needed. But vinegar with stronger concentrations increases in price dramatically. And you still risk killing off other plants that surround the weed, as the vinegar is not going to be selective in what it kills.
    • Newspaper. Using newspaper to kill off weeds is one of the long-standing tricks people have used for years. The newspaper can have one more use after being read. By placing newspaper on top of your weeds, you will prohibit the weeds from soaking in the sunlight they need to survive or reproduce. Around five layers of newspaper need to be placed on top of the weeds. A downside of using this method is that the newspaper cannot be hidden from visitors or people walking and driving by. Then, when the rain comes, it can be quite a hassle to have to clean up after.
  2. Pesticides:

    • Dish detergent. As an insecticide, dish detergent is used to kill the bugs that are destroying your plants. Detergent is not going to be able to kill all types of insects. It is most effective on insects that have shells, as it breaks through that barrier to kill the bug’s insides. Another difficulty in using detergent other than the fact that it does not kill all bugs, is that it can also damage your plants. Typically, homeowners mix detergent with water, than spray the plants that are being eaten by the insects. As those plants are sprayed, they are also affected. An advantage to using dish detergent is that it is a cheap method. To buy insecticides at a store is going to cost about double the amount of dish detergent.
  3. Fertilizers:

    • Soda. There is a widespread theory that soda can be used to make a lawn become greener. This belief is based on the fact that soda contains carbohydrates, which should nourish the grass. Grass does need carbohydrates, but generally, grass makes its own carbohydrates through photosynthesis. Through rays of sunshine and water, grass is going to be able to complete photosynthesis. Which means that grass does not require carbohydrates from an outside source other than water and sunlight. What soda does do is provide the grass with an additional liquid substance, which can make the grass greener.

Home organic remedies are difficult to use in comparison to the traditional store bought remedies because they are not tested. For example, if a homebuyer were to buy a weed killer in a store, they would have information on the ingredients, how to use the weed killer, and it’s side effects. When you make a home remedy, the only information you are really going to know is which ingredients you use to make it. Your home concoction has not been tested. The effects are unknown. This does not mean that all home remedies should not be used. It simply means there may be a lot of trial and error along the way!

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