Sometimes it is just as important to know what not to buy as it is knowing what to buy. That is particularly the case with gardening. There are too many companies that are marketing chemicals and poison that they claim makes gardening easier or can grow better plants, but in reality using these products will destroy your backyard ecosystem that is critical to creating life and abundant plants.
Not to brag, but I am amazed at the backyard wildlife that is attracted to my backyard. Every year I get new surprises. This year seams to have brought a whole new level of bird activity with species that I haven't seen before in my 10 years in this house (including one of my favorites, a blue jay). Last year was all about the dragon flies that would flay around my yard in the summer afternoons as things began to cool down.
And of course that wildlife wouldn't be there if it didn't have something to eat. What they're eating are the smaller worms and flies that are living in my yard, and what those smaller bugs are eating are the microorganisms that are thriving in my yard as they break down the natural plant material, compost, and mulch.
If I disrupt this by using chemicals and poisons to kill weeds and smaller bugs, or I use synthetic fertilizers that lack any micro-nutrients, this can destroy the beginning of the food chain that will ultimately lead to not having all the birds and insects that make the garden so production and so much fun.
So here are the things to try to avoid
- Roundup and other weed killers. These will kill your microorganism colony. Just pull the weeds or ideally use mulch to smother the weeds. This will have the added benefit of building your soil. These products also contribute to collapses of entire bug colonies (like bees) because they can carry the chemicals back to the colony. So know that when using these products, you could be doing more damage to the environment than just your yard.
- Synthetic fertilizers. Whether it is for your lawn or your plants, try to avoid synthetic non-organic fertilizers. These may boost your plants but do nothing for the ecosystem around the plants. This includes products from Scotts Miracle Gro. It just is not a well-balanced fertlizer. Your plants will like the nutrients at first but it will leave the less resilient and more susceptible to disease and other weaknesses down the road.
- Plastic or fabric barriers. Too many landscapers love to use this to suppress weeds. The problem is you are creating that barrier where no life can be supported below the barrier. The other issue is that over time, plant material and other organic matter will collect on top of the fabric creating soil and you will soon enough be battling with the same weeds you are trying to suppress. So just avoid it altogether and again use natural mulch as a way to control weeds.
- Outdoor insect treatment. People don't like bugs in their home and as a result there is an entire industry dedicated to spraying the outside of homes to keep critters out. But just like weed killers, this is destroying that precious ecosystem. Instead, do your research on what is causing the predators to come indoors and figure out a natural way to stop it. Or keep building your outdoor ecosystem and you may get lucky enough to have a predator of those bugs find your yard and manage the problem naturally, restoring balance.