10 things your landscaper won’t tell you from Smart Money

1. “My sprays are real killers, all right.”
Sure, you want your lawn to be as green as Yankee Stadium’s outfield. But does your landscaper need to poison it in the process? Gloria Megee knows what harm grass-protecting pesticides can do. Several years ago, after a landscaper had sprayed pesticides on the yard of her Arlington, Va., housing development, Megee’s bichon frise, Monique, started to nibble the grass. Seconds later the dog was vomiting; she would experience seizures throughout the night. Monique eventually became riddled with skin cancer and tumors. The cause? Megee’s vet blamed it on the pesticides. “The poor dog’s paws were totally raw from walking on sprayed grass,” Megee says.

Indeed, research has linked pesticides to Parkinson’s disease, Hodgkin’s disease and liver cancer. One of the major culprits in insecticide poisoning, diazinon — once an active ingredient in Ortho and Spectracide, among many other pesticides — was so dangerous that the Environmental Protection Agency banned it from all household and gardening products in 2004. But a spiffy lawn and long-term health are not mutually exclusive.

Rather than chemicals, some landscapers now use bug-eating birds, kelp spray and insects that prey on vegetarian pests, the ones that harm trees and plants. Says Steven Restmeyer, a landscaper who has practiced such techniques: “When landscapers deal with pesticides, they deal with liability and health issues, and they are replacing the natural process of the soil microbes that feed the plants.”

To read the other 9 items, go to 10 things your landscaper won’t tell you

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