Perhaps the most dramatic change in gardening in Canada has been the ban on lawn and garden pesticides for cosmetic use in a growing number of municipalities. But that’s just the starting point; we’re now re-evaluating some old ideas and adopting a plethora of new ones that are smart, healthy and chic. While some of these initiatives (such as saltwater pools) have a higher initial cost, the benefits to the environment—and to us—are incalculable.
OLD: Great expanses of lawn
Labour-intensive turfgrass—that water-guzzling boon to pesticide manufacturers—is slowly giving way to other options, including new types of turf.
New: Trees, shrubs, perennials and groundcovers planted as replacements for grass
OLD: Chlorinated swimming pools
Chlorine in large doses can give you red eyes and itchy skin, and can discolour your hair. Additionally, pool chlorine produces toxic byproducts such as chloroform and trihalomethanes that potentially contribute to a wide range of physical ailments.
New: Saltwater pools
These pools manufacture their own chlorine by means of
a generator, but in much smaller doses.
OLD: Asphalt driveways
Because they are impermeable, asphalt driveways contribute to stormwater pollution; the rain runoff eventually adds to the toxins in our waterways.
New: Porous paving surfaces
This type of surface allows rainfall to permeate into the subsoil. Permeable options include cobblestones, paving blocks, plastic or fibrous grid systems filled with living plants, or specialty mixes of both concrete and asphalt.
OLD: CCA pressure-treated wood used in fences, decks, picnic tables and many play structures
Up until December 31, 2003, wood for residential use was pressure-treated with the preservative CCA (chromated copper arsenate) to protect it from the elements. Unfortunately, these chemicals can slowly leach out, causing health concerns. Today in North America, wood is pressure-treated with either ACQ (alkaline copper quaternary) or AZOL (copper azol), which is considered safer. However, experts caution that any pressure-treated wood should never be burned.
New: Redwood and cedar
These woods do not have to be treated; there are also many non-wood alternatives to consider, including plastic and metal. The revival of dry stone walls is a charming and durable alternative to fencing.