That stash of yard and patio chemicals in the garage may contain any number of ingredients that could lead to an array of health problems, from respiratory complications to an increased risk of cancer. But what are you going to do — you have to do these chores, right? Right, but it doesn’t have to be a hazard for you and your family. Swap conventional household chemicals for equally effective, natural alternatives to safely complete these three common outdoor tasks.
Protect Your Garden
Garden season is upon us, and even the greenest of gardeners want to keep unwanted pests at bay. Water, all on its own, can be effective for keeping some insects (such as aphids and whiteflies) in check. Simply turn your hose to a fine mist and spray leaves and plants to remove pests, paying extra attention to the undersides. If that doesn’t do the trick, you can add a bit of natural dish soap or castile soap to a spray bottle of water. The fatty acids naturally found in soap will kill many insects by dissolving their outer shells.
Don’t forget: Not all insects are harmful. Plant a diverse garden, including flowers and herbs alongside produce, to easily and naturally keep your garden’s insect population balanced and under control.
Deer, birds and underground critters can also wreak havoc on your beautiful garden. It’s frustrating and disappointing to find all of your hard work destroyed in very little time by nature’s scavenging creatures. Garlic and hot pepper sprays can keep larger plants protected from nibbling deer or nighttime garden prowlers such as raccoons and opossums. Just be sure to wash these foods well before eating after harvest.
Clean the Pool
Found in swimming pools and drinking water, chlorine is used to kill harmful bacteria and for sanitation purposes. However, it is also a known carcinogen that absorbs into the skin and has been linked to major health problems and early signs of aging. If your family has a pool and swims in it regularly, you may want to consider limiting the amount of time they spend in the pool or choose natural methods of keeping the water clean and bacteria-free.
A salt water chlorine generator is one such option, as is using natural enzymes and pool chemicals to keep your water clean. SeaKlear is one such manufacturer). You can find chlorine-free pool chemicals online.
Reduce Yard Waste
Keeping a well-manicured lawn can create a lot of waste in the form of weeds, dead leaves and grass clippings. Rather than tossing these into the dumpster to be sent to the nearest landfill, you can put them to good use in the garden by starting a compost pile. Compost will enrich garden soil, protect against plant disease and even help produce higher yields. Plus, it’s a low-cost, easy-to-produce alternative to commercial fertilizers and soil amendments.
Enjoy your spring and summer, outdoors, without worrying about ill-health effects. A bit of know-how is all you need to keep your family safe and healthy.