Chemicals that have traditionally been used as pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers have well-documented potentially adverse side effects, both to the yard and the owner. As a result, a natural lawn treatment craze has swept the country, and with good reason. There are simple treatments that can be sprayed over your lawn, bushes, shrubs, and plants, which are just as effective as those that use artificial chemicals. What’s more, many of them can be done using household materials.
Most natural fungicides kill fungus by changing the pH of its surroundings. Fungus can only survive in a very limited pH range. Combine 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a gallon of water and spray it over your lawn and shrubs. It’s important not to use white vinegar because it’s usually made from synthetic materials, meaning it can have trace elements which are harmful to your plants.
Apple cider vinegar can act as a pesticide if used too heavily, which will kill off beneficial microbes in the soil. To avoid this, combine equal parts egg shells, powdered limestone, and dolomitic lime and grind them as finely as possible. Dust your lawn and shrubs with the dry mixture. The alkaline lime will change the pH surroundings without doing harm to insects. It also has the added benefit of killing slugs and snails because of the calcium carbonate content.
Many plants naturally secrete oils which insects and pests find irritating, painful, or downright deadly. In one gallon of water, combine a handful of chopped jalapeño or habanero peppers, one crushed garlic bloom (not a clove, the entire bloom), 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, ¼ cup of chopped peppermint leaves, ¼ cup of ground horseradish and leave the mixture to sit for several hours. Strain all the solid contents out, then add 2 tablespoons of diatomaceous earth and ¼ cup of dish soap. Spray this mixture over your lawn and shrubs.
This mixture works in several different ways. Citric acid from the lemon juice is toxic to most ants. Peppermint and horseradish is toxic to many species of beetle. Garlic and other alliums are toxic to soft-bodied insects such as flies and grubs. The capsaicin from the peppers will overload the nervous system of most insects and kill them outright. Diatomaceous earth is made up of the spiny fossilized shells of extinct algae, it punctures the exoskeleton of any insect that comes into contact with it so they bleed to death. Finally, the soap helps all these ingredients and the water to adhere to insects. If the ingredients don’t kill them, they will often drown.
In a large sack, combine 4 quarts seed meal, 1 cup finely ground agricultural lime, 1 cup gypsum, 1 quart guano and 1 quart basalt dust. Sew or tie the sack shut tightly and then place it in a 55-gallon trash can (well scrubbed) filled with water. Leave it to steep for a week, like tea, and then dispose of the sack and its contents. Put them into the soil of a garden bed to avoid wasting what nutrients haven’t been leached from the contents.
One gallon of the enriched water will cover 100 square feet of ground and provide for the nutrient needs of your lawn and shrubs for a whole year. Gypsum provides calcium. Guano provides phosphorous. Basalt dust provides many different micronutrients and trace minerals. Seed meal provides nitrogen. Lime provides potassium.