Lawn Treatment and Pets
Everyone wants the greenest lawn in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, green lawns do not always go well with pets (or young children). While there is little risk of acute poisonings from lawn chemicals that have been applied to the lawn, they are still not necessarily safe.
Studies conducted by Purdue University have suggested links between lawn chemical applications and the development of cancers in dogs. At greatest risk, Scottish Terriers which seem to have a significant increased risk for bladder cancer if the owners have their lawn treated. Lymphoma in dogs has also been linked to the use of lawn chemicals.
Alternatives exist to reduce weeds and bugs in the lawn without harming pets or the environment.
Corn Gluten Meal, a by-product of the corn syrup industry has been shown to inhibit seed germination, therefore acting as a "pre-emergent herbicide" and at the same time, providing a low level of nitrogen which stimulates grass growth.
To kill grass and other plants growing in cracks in sidewalks and brick/stone patios - spraying the plant with vinegar will work (although it only kills leaves so has to be repeated - plain table salt will also kill weeds in sidewalks and patios - and will poison the soil for all plants for some time).
For insect control, there are several strains of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) which cause disease in insect larvae. The subtype israelensis is sold as "mosquito dunks" and will last for up to a month in bird baths, small ponds, and other wet areas killing mosquito larva. "Milky Spore" is another form of Bt, which when applied to lawns kills beetle grubs (larva of Japanese Beetles, June Beetles, etc), flea larva, and other unwanted bugs in the lawn. There are also a number of strains of parasitic nematodes (microscopic worms) which feed on grubs and flea larva in the lawn. Although more expensive than applying chemical insecticides, biological control methods have the advantage of establishing themselves in the soil after four to eight applications, it may not be necessary to repeat the applications for ten to twenty years.
These organisms have been found to be very effective at reducing or eliminating moles in the lawn as well. By killing grubs, the primary food for moles, moles are not attracted into the yard and leave the area alone.