Steve Maxwell offers Bogus Greener options for lawn care

2,4-D is dangerous?

Weed B Gone kills Thistle? Or you mean it kills a couple of leaves and the Thistle grows back.

Weed B Gone is Safer? 

Did you know Halifax banned 'Weed Be Gone' – FeHEDTA – They say its not proven safe

Soil Sampling is the answer?

If you read your  Soil sample results carefully, Steve,  you will see that they suggest a regular fertilizing with your recommended soil corrections.  That means fertilize your lawn, not save the environment from too much fertilizer run off as you claim.

1 percent of the 2,4-D on the market was used on home lawns, removing 1% from the environment won't save anything.

Where does he get his facts?


Greener options for lawn care

The days of 2-4D are well behind us -thankfully








Like everyone growing up in the suburbs 40 years ago, I learned to recognize the smell of herbicides, like 2-4D, wafting around each spring, killing everything but grass on lawns everywhere. Looking back on those days today, it seems so toxically primitive, especially when you look around at what has happened over the last 10 years.











Canadians are making lifestyle choices with environmental reasons in mind and some communities even let dandelions grow unharmed.

All of this is great news as I see it, and with it has come a particularly astonishing lawn product that I began using last year. As far as I know, it's unique.

Drawing the line with weeds

Even though I'm happy to have at least 50 per cent of my lawn covered in what some people might call weeds, and never think of reaching for weed killer, I draw the line with thistles. They have to go because they hurt so much to step on in bare feet. Their long tap root also makes them almost impossible to kill with a shovel, especially if you've got a lot of thistles to deal with.

With more weed seeds flying around than ever these days, at least a few thistles crop up each year at my place. Until now, one of the safest herbicides for killing thistles and other weeds was a spot application of Roundup. Trouble is, it takes a week or two for this to work, and it also kills surrounding grass and everything else, too.

That's where a much safer herbicide called Weed B Gon by Scotts ( comes in.

Fast acting, effective and safe

Weed B Gon is permitted for use in municipalities with bans on 2-4D, and I know from testing that it also works faster than even the nastiest traditional weed killers I've seen in action.

In my tests, Weed B Gon even killed fully established thistles and other tough weeds in just three or four days, while also leaving surrounding grass green and lively. The only issue is that you've got to be generous with your application.

The product uses iron to selectively kill broadleaf plants, leaving grass unaffected, and that's why it's so safe.

Sampling your Soil

Weed control is only one element of lawn care that impacts the environment, and it may not even be the biggest part.

Nutrients and soil fertility are an important issue that's easy to ignore and that's why the Grassroots soil testing kit caught my eye last year. Renamed this season as A Growing Necessity ( or 877-764-5878), it's a simple option for assessing soil nutrient levels so fertilizer can be applied in the right quantities, with nothing unnecessary going on the land.

The kit costs $20 online and includes sampling instructions, a soil bag and a prepaid shipping box.

Taking a soil sample from my yard took about 10 minutes with a shovel, and a printed test report arrived by e-mail a week after I dropped the kit into a mailbox.

Results covered six of the most important soil parameters: organic matter, phosphate, potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium and soil pH levels.

As it turns out, my soil's in surprisingly good shape, nutritionally speaking. Without test results to go by, I might have been tempted to apply a broad-spectrum fertilizer, even though most of the nutrients would simply have run off into the groundwater because added nutrients weren't needed at all.

Fertilizing properly is not just about saving money or even reducing nutrient run-off, as important as these things are.

There's also the hidden environmental impact of all the energy consumed in manufacturing the fertilizer and transporting it.

It has taken four decades since I learned to recognize the smell of 2-4D, but at least my kids now get to grow up in a cleaner world. And as it turns out, we're not completely at the mercy of weeds, either.

Steve Maxwell, syndicated home improvement and woodworking columnist, has shared his DIY tips, how-to videos and product reviews since 1988. Follow him at, on Facebook or @Maxwells_ Tips on Twitter.



























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