The grass isn’t greener on the other side, its greener where you water it. It’s also healthier for you and more eco-friendly when you don’t spray 2,4-D on it. That’s the conclusion reached to bust this myth through both research and reader’s comments.
2,4-D or 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, is a white crystalline irritant compound commonly used as a weed killer and defoliant. It is the same chemical used in Killex, and one of the main ingredients in the compound Agent Orange which was used heavily in the Vietnam War.
As we’ve already hinted at, 2,4-D is definitely not a necessity to a better lawn, in fact, we encourage you not to use it. What effects does it have? This chemical is a known neurotoxin as well as causing kidney and liver problems. Five provinces have already gone ahead and banned the use of cosmetic pesticides, which include 2,4-D, but Manitoba has yet to follow suit. In Ontario, a year after the ban was implemented the amount of weed-killing chemicals found in urban waterways dropped by roughly 80%. Homeowners are known to use weed killers too sparingly but also beware of some lawn companies that pose as eco-friendly but really aren’t. If you prefer a lawn company, ask them what they use on the grass, including other chemicals with 2,4-D such as: Weedtrine-II, Aqua-Kleen, Barrage, Plantgard, Lawn-Keep, Planotox and Malerbane, Savage, Salvo, Weedone, and Killex.
For those still skeptical, worrying that weeds will take over, Ontario, despite the ban, only uses pesticides in cases where public safety is a risk, so no harm will come from the lack of pesticides as well.
So how do you keep that green grass without losing sleep over weeds? Our readers weighed in and had the great following suggestions:
- In grasses mixed with white dutch clover, fewer dandelions result since the clover outcompetes the dandelions. The grass mixture is also more resilient in drought conditions, the clover provides the needed nitrogen back into the ground for the grass and you get to search for 4-leaf clovers!
- In the spring when you are preparing your lawn for the summer, instead of throwing down fertilizer or herbicides, spread some compost across the lawn and lightly water. It provides a lot of nutrients for the grass without the chemicals, its natural, and compost retains water better than soil so your lawn won’t dry out and yellow.
- For fixing patches in your lawn, scrape out the area with a rake, put some grass seed down, cover with compost and lightly water.
- If you have the time and just can’t stand those dandelions no matter what, nip the weed right in the bud as soon as they pop up by cutting off the tops of dandelions so they don’t go to seed and spread.
- Lastly, sign up for a FREE organic lawn care workshop. The Manitoba Eco-Network shows you how to effectively maintain a beautiful lawn without the harsh chemicals. More information can be found here.
so how do you kill the insane amount of weeks coming onto the front lawn from all the neighbours then? i have 10000 dandy lions mixed with clover over 2500 sq ft. the grass is nice and thick but the weeks are looking mighty strong too,.
There are a number of routine tasks you should use to keep your lawn weed free. The healthier your grass, the less opportunity for weeds to move in. Make sure you aerate and spread organic fertilizer (compost, cattle manure, etc), which is found at any garden centre. If you do this regularly, your grass should be able to outcompete any weeds, especially if you are willing to put in a couple 30 minute sessions throughout the season to hand pick some trouble weeds.
I support the idea of using less chemicals, but in practice the results have been less than satisfactory. Weeds are out of control all over the city. None of the organic methods were working at all, and at one point I barely had any lawn left — just a thick crop of weeds, including a nasty patch of poison ivy. Two applications of Killex, and the weeds were gone and my lawn is almost back to normal.
There can be a learning curve when switching to lower-chemical or more natural options, it’s true! Poison Ivy is something you definitely don’t want in the lawn, but many weeds are just plants we may want to consider changing our mindsets about. The Manitoba Eco Network offers an excellent Organic Lawn Care program including a new initiative teaching about how to convert your lawn to all clover. It’s weed-resistant, low-maintenance, bee-friendly, and smells great. Here’s two links to get you started if you’re interested in this option: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/manitoba-clover-lawn-1.4126994
Good luck in your journey to pursue low-chemical options, I hope you find something that works for you!
My lawn is being over taken by twitch grass. It has flourished in the hot dry summer Ontario has suffered. I can live with this thick light green carpet for now but the adjoining lawn of my neighbour is manicured weekly and is pristine. I fear it is inevitable that my twitch will invade her property. In the past I have sewn clover which I admire for its appearance and ability to supply nitrogen to my grass. Now it has appeared in her lawn and I am certain she suspects it has come from my side. I sew clover carefully and cut the grass with my mower making certain it always blows onto my lawn not hers. How can I prevent my weeds from invading her property? We are good neighbours but I am the “greeny” of the two.
Hi Brian! Sorry I’ve taken so long to reply to you. Your comment got lost in the shuffle. That’s great that you’re working hard to run a ‘green’ lawn! I’m afraid I’m not an expert on this topic, but Manitoba Eco-Network usually runs an Organic Lawn Care program in the summers and they may have advice for you. If you suspect grasses and clover spreading via runners underground, you could try digging a physical barrier into the property line to reduce spreading. Keeping your lawn area trimmed to a reasonable height should assist with limiting your plants from going to seed and thus being able to spread to her lawn. It may also be worth looking into some other organic and ‘green’ weed control for your own property to limit the worst of the offenders. I know it’s winter now, but hopefully you didn’t have too many late-summer conflicts, and next year will go well for you!
I use Killex on a regular basis now, and it is the _ONLY_ thing that works to keep my grass green! Please do not believe the BS being propagated by this website. After 5 years of trying to go without using Killex (and I have a sprinkler system also and water my grass appropriately), I have gone back to using Killex! Killex is the only one that works! None of the other “green products” work, it has just been a complete waste of money paying more than 3 times the cost of what Killex costs. Just totally ridiculous!! Another scam propagated by the Government to enrich their friends who market the green products! Total Scam!! Also please read the MSDS for any of these products, it has the information that you need… if you read and follow the instructions, Killex (and other products) can be used safely. 2,4-d is not a risk! It is the only thing that works! And those are the true facts! 🙂
Sounds like you’ve have a frustrating time with your lawn!
Manitoba EcoNetwork hosts an organic lawn care program to support you with trying to move away from chemicals that can be harmful to yourself and the environment.
It runs through the summer and they’ve be happy to chat with you (or anybody else reading this) about options. Here’s a link: http://mbeconetwork.org/programs/organic-lawn-care/
Grasscycling is a great way to keep your grass green and healthy, as well. Just leave the clippings on your lawn when you mow (cut regularly so you’re not taking off more than about an inch at a time) and they’ll disappear into your lawn and act as a natural fertilizer and weed suppressant! Here’s more info on grasscycling: http://www.winnipeg.ca/waterandwaste/recycle/grasscycling.stm
The Manitoba Provincial Government is actually not very supportive of the cosmetic pesticide ban, and it is about taking care of our children and the environment rather than “enriching their friends”.
100% agree The rest of the stuff is a waste of time and money
You better not eat wheat or noodles or any other thing that is made out of wheat because it all gets sprayed and it is as you would say not equal friendly it is actually kilex but way more powerful We have used it for years on our farm and our neighbours have as well none of us have cancer or liver problems If you live in town keep using it until your weeds are gone as a matter of fact I have a friend who has for rental properties and uses it on his lawn is beautiful no dandelions and no weeds
Has anyone experienced side effects after applying
I worked lawn care and used to spray it for my boss two days every week during cutting season for 5 years (about 10-20 lawns / 5 gallons of Killex sprayed each week). It’s an irritant, so my nasals and eyes wills start to itch once I start spraying. After the end of the day, my throat will start to itch a lot as well. Definitely don’t touch your face while handling it and wash your hands afterwards. I read something about abnormal sperm growth for chronic exposure to 2,4-d, but I have not experience any fertility issue myself, and my firstborn was very healthy with no complications (other than she was too big to come out through her mother’s cervix and had to be C-secced).
Here’s a link to the Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Working group that should provide all the info individuals need to submit comments supporting the maintenance of the ban:
Please share! Deadline for comment is Monday, Sept.12
The consultation on cosmetic pesticides paper is now released: http://www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/envprograms/ Tell Manitoba Conservation what you think.
Thank you everyone for all your responses! They are very helpful, keep them coming!
Hugh, that’s a very interesting observation and a great insight to the dandelion issue.
iagree w/Hugh-this is a very little known fact! We seeded white clover into our established lawn and church cemtery to deal w/ dandys w/wonderful results after 2/3 yrs
aswellas using corn gluten appro to deal with dandy seeds. alternative? just eat them!!I look forward to the ban.
I’m uncomfortable having a lawn. Or any other monoculture planting that requires toxic chemical inputs to do what you want it to. This is why I now grow vegetables, fruit and flowers in my front and back yards at home. All with compost for fertilizer and no nasty chemicals at all.
I agree with Sharon, I’m against all chemicals. I want to keep my lawn, my air and my environment as clean and natural as possible.
Seems the old organic religion with the priests of black majik abound here.These well meaning but ignorant people would be first to starve, organically of course of starvation. Organic will not feed the world. But it would reduce the world population. The “all chemicals evil” is from the dated tree hugger hipster groups. Organics kept populations low due to lack of food.
The chemicals you fear thru ignorance, are applied to your food not your lawn. By the way, clover does not actually increase nitrogen overall in any field or plot. Clover adds some in areas takes away in others net zero result, and was abandoned by farmers way back in the 1940’s. It is used to increase protien in feed not increase nitrogen.
Seems that is up for debate, Marduk. https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/aug/14/organic-farming-agriculture-world-hunger
Marduk has a point that all chemicals are not evil. Many are beneficial and can and have helped people on a daily basis. It is also good to point out that organic is not the same as spray free. Organic in many cases is almost identical to conventional farming, but just with different (but sometimes no less toxic) pesticides used. Although chemical fertilizers boost yeilds in food much more than chemical pesticides. Weed pressure has been shown to only decrease crop yeilds in specific crops; where wheat and canola actually have negligible losses when put in a pesticide free rotation. Omitting herbicides in certain crops can actually save the farmer significant amounts of money with no drop in yield. So reducing or omitting chemical herbicides could feed the world, but you would still need chemical fertilizers.
Also white clover fixes nitrogen in the soil with an estimated gain of 100lbs of N per acre if grown as a monocrop. Although you wouldn’t see nearly as much nitrogen gain if you used it in your lawn, it’s definitely better than nothing! It is also not obsolete and is still used as a cover crop in Canadian rotations. In fact my family farm still uses it occasionally as part of our rotation in fields where we cannot grow legumes.
@Peter C – you are against all chemicals? LOL, water is a chemical!
I’ve noticed that in lawns where white dutch clover is a component in the lawn mixture there are much fewer dandelions. This was a component of most lawn mixtures until 2,4-D and other chemicals were introduced for weed control. Not only does it outcompete dandelions but it makes the lawn more resiliant under drought conditions and provides nitrogen needs of the grass (and you can look for 4-leaf clovers!)
I do not like using chemicals on my lawn, but the result is a lawn is full of creeping charlie, dandelions, thistles and other assorted weedy species. Exhautive weeding has not improved the situation. A big problem with chemicals in my opinion is overuse. e.g. when companies contract with homeowners to spray lawns 3, 4, or 5 times each summer. That amount of spraying is excessive, far more than is necessary to do the job.
Hi – I am not at all comfortable using any chemicals on my lawn and am ALWAYS having to remind my husband not to. I try to stay on top by manually pulling the weeds and spraying with a salt/vinegar solution. I don’t mind the dandelions and if the neighbors didn’t mind I would just mow them…which I do to keep the height down only. I am TOTALLY against chemicals on lawns – for my cats, any dogs and kids in the area – and for my lungs!! and more!
I’m lost, if you’re against the use of “any chemicals”, why are you using vinegar and salt? they are chemicals too.
Quite simply because they’re effective and not cancer causing agents.
I’ve used them for years with very good success