It’s summer time, and the living is easy. That means you, your kids, your friends, and your pets will all be hanging around the yard. So take a minute to think about what they’ll be sitting on, rolling across, and probably eating (dirt IS delicious!). Do you really want it to be chemicals? We didn’t think so. Replace the grass, embrace the weeds
The first step is to re-think your lawn. Are there places where you could remove grass and replace it with native plants and mulch? Native plants are great for bees, birds, and other wildlife. Mulch, meanwhile, keeps your plants healthy, your weeds down, and reduces habitat for nasty critters like ticks and mosquitoes. Check out Pinterest for ideas.
If you really want to show off, certify your new native plant garden with the National Wildlife Federation. You’ll even get a spiffy sign that's sure to impress your neighbors. Clovers mean bees and dandelions are daisies
Then re-think your relationship with weeds. One of our Klerifiers recently replaced her patchy lawn with native clover. It’s low growing so it won’t need to be mowed, which saves you money and time and saves the planet from climate change. Clover also provides food for bees, who are busy as, well, bees, making you honey and lots of other foods. Clover out competes other weeds. It’s even immune to dog pee! (Yes, clover may look a little sad the first season, but by next year, Peter Rabbit could happily live in your yard.)
Also try to re-evaluate your relationship with dandelions, which most suburban households consider the weediest of weeds. But actually dandelions are members of the daisy family who just got a bad rap. Their flowers provide food for bees. And if you’re feeling super hipster, you can make salads out of dandelion greens and wine out of the blossoms. But only if you don’t douse them in chemicals!
We also recommend planting milkweed. Despite their name, milkweeds are not weeds; they are food for beautiful monarch caterpillars and loads of other butterflies love their nectar. If you must kill weeds, don’t also kill the planet…or your family
The key word in weed killer is KILLER. No matter what the claim on the bottle, weed killers are packed with chemicals that are bad for other living things—and that includes you and your family. The worst of the worst are Roundup by Monsanto and 2, 4-D by Dow. Big ag industry folks say they have important applications in killing invasive plants in some very specific ecosystems. But using Roundup and 2,4-D in your yard is really overkill. These weedkillers also cause health problems for human and harm wildlife. On top of that, the companies have bad business practices with Roundup showing up in our body and 2, 4-D is also potentially harming us in different ways. Many researchers also think Roundup may cause cancer. Monsanto has even set aside $277 million for litigation like the case of a landscaper suing the company over his cancer allegedly caused by using Roundup.
Is cancer really worth a weed-free yard?
Probably not, so head to your kitchen and make your own non-toxic weed killer. It literally could not be any easier: Combine five parts white vinegar, two parts water, and one part eco-friendly dish soap. Apply it with a spray bottle. Weeds be gone! This potent potable is wicked strong, so make sure you just spray it on weeds, not flowers or grass. Check out the sustainable brands of dish soap to use below. Remember to replant the area where you’ve killed your weeds. Re-seed with something native and fast growing (like our friend clover) or with hearty grass seeds, so you don’t give new weeds a chance to move in. Now get outside and enjoy your new, earth-friendly yard. Because nothing says summer like the scent of a truly green, freshly mowed lawn!
For your DIY weed killer, follow this Klerify soap purchase guide:
Green Soap (Buy this): Doc Bronner's, Dial
Yellow Soap (pretty good, but can improve): Method, Softsoap, Joy
Red Soap (Avoid): Mrs. Meyer's
USFWS Midwest Region Monarch Butterfly on Swamp Milkweed Spotted in the monarch garden at the Michigan Private Lands Office. Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS.