I’m hoping 2019 will be safe and bring a good measure of joy for us all. @cbank you are a bit stuck with this one.
We too have a tiny patch of lawn, and its full of non turf grasses and it’s thatched. The alternative is doing a lot of raking and hands and knees weeding of the blimen wire grass throughout.
Lawns need quite a lot of care to keep just the selection of turf grasses there that make that lawn look and feel great. Andre le Notre introduced little patches of lawn to the design of the garden of Versailles and this area was called a green carpet. As the industrial revolution and changes in land use drove rural smallholders to urban lives, lawns came into amenity use as part of early parks where people could relax in these public areas and recreate in their very short time off work. Lawns became egalitarian amenities. If you like lawns can be seen as indicators of having enough excess that we can afford to have an area uncultivated and not put to food production.
( the next bit is paraphrased from Wikipedia) ‘Lawns may have originated as grassed enclosures within early medieval settlements used for communal grazing of livestock as distinct from fields reserved for agriculture and became popular in Northern Europe in the Middle Ages. They were not a part of gardens in other regions and cultures of the world until contemporary times where they have become a universal part of domestic garden design. Before the invention of mowers, lawns were managed very differently. They were an element of wealthy estates and in some places were maintained by the labor-intensive methods of shearing.’
Lawns are things of great aesthetic beauty and we all have the dream of being able to lie back on a piece of soft green carpet on a sunny day and to walk bare foot on a beautiful lawn. To have good lawn it takes a lot of management on hands and knees and with special sward rakes to stop thatching and regular selective spraying. My bees work the onehunga weed flowers throughout it our lawn right now, so if there’s flowers the bees will be there in contact with that lawn. Although these selective sprays may not harm the bees if the Daisies and onehunga weed are kept cut and deflowered, we would still be putting an artificial chemical on the grass and the soil.
The problem with many conventional herbicides and fertilisers is that they do disrupt the pH of the soil below. If the soil pH fluctuates too wildly this can either drive away or kill the microbiology in the soil that is an integral part of delivering nutrients to the plants above and holding organic matter in the soil ( carbon is kept in the soil as part of the organic matter, when the soil is till and turned the organic matter decomposes and carbon is released into the atmosphere). Our oceans are our biggest carbon sink, our soils are our next biggest carbon sink, forests come next....( see IFOAM website)
In effect your soil can become a sterile growing medium when the plants have artificially processed chemicals applied to them. You can remediate that.
When a soil loses it’s microbiology through exposure to chemical applications and loses organic matter through tilling, the aggregates of soil particles collapse. Without the complex microbiology in an ‘alive’ soil, nutrients can be sitting there in the soil locked up without the plants being able to access them immediately. Drive past the potato and onion fields on the Bombay Hill: that lovely fine grained soil you see there in some fields is not actually a good thing. Go closer and you will see that the soil in some conventionally managed agricultural fields has lost its ability to ‘aggregate’ or hold together in small groups of particles. If so, this is a sign that there is a lack of microbiology present; their byproducts literally hold soil particles together. In effect some vegetables are being cultivated in sterile soil using conventional fertilisers and chemicals to manage pests, weeds and disease. We do have a challenge globally to feed an ever growing population and these wonderful efficient conventional techniques have developed for positive and basic reasons. However the use of more and more artificially produced chemicals is not sustainable and bio-agricultural approaches are now being introduced back into agricultural slowly but surely. The problem is it’s like turning a huge container ship around, it takes time ( and its hard to make money from natural processes and huge expensive plant has to be modified). When you hear warnings there are only 100 more harvests left, it’s not too wrong. Change has to come to post War cultivation techniques, and it is and it will.
So the long and short of it is: Either keep your lawn mowed weekly from next Spring onwards so the weed doesn’t get a chance to flower or decrease the amount of lawn you have and increase the borders with more bee plants, or research the product before you use it, research the chemicals. Don’t assume the constituents are safe even then ( glyphosate is a good example). Wear full kit, chemical gloves, a good respirator with fit for purpose cartridges, and fully cloth your body. Wear gum boots that can be washed. Wash every article well after wards separately from other clothes and do a double rinse. Wash your hair and body. Do not let little ones or anyone walk bare foot on the sprayed area for at least two weeks. If you do spray the weed then follow up 1 week later with watering cans of a good biological fertiliser and effective microorganisms. ( ‘Pacific Bioferts’ Moana natural and ‘EMs ‘Effective Microrganisms are outstanding for bringing the microbiology and absorbable nutrients back to the soil. EM can be ordered over the internet from ChCh and arrives fast with no fuss, directors of both companies are fascinating to listen to via YouTube.) I use both products myself on a regular basis and taught organic horticulture before I returned to art production. I dont work for either company i mentioned here.
Soil science has got to be one of the most fascinating things you can research. Good lawns need grooming.
Presently New Zealand cannot be viewed as a world leader where it comes to health and safety. As far as I know Glyphosate is still on our shop shelves here despite being a known carcinogen and banned in the EU. Hopefully it will disappear soon.
Just because you can’t see the harm its doing, it doesn’t mean its not harming you or others.