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Alternatives to Chemicals

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As a component of Clark County Solid Waste, the Naturally Beautiful Backyards (NBB) Program strives to reduce and/or eliminate the use of toxics in home environments thereby decreasing household hazardous waste, toxic run-off into area streams and rivers, and increasing the livability and overall health of the community.

In its efforts to reduce and/or eliminate the use of toxics in the home environment the Naturally Beautiful Backyards program promotes alternatives to chemical pesticides in the garden and cleaning agents in the household. The use of synthetic chemical agents in the yard and garden are non-specific in their scope and kill beneficial organisms as well as the "pests." By using chemicals in the garden the natural ecosystem is unable to function properly and pest and disease problems can become compounded. Although alternatives can take a little more time and energy the benefits for the garden and community at large far outweigh the few minutes of time saved when using chemical agents.

The NBB program first and foremost recommends tolerance in the garden. A little tolerance of pest damage can go a long way in the health of the yard and garden. Use of alternative methods and natural control agents is also recommended because they are pest and disease specific and offer very little, if any, negative impact to the yard and garden.

Listed below are some common yard and garden problems found in the Clark County area and some of their alternative solutions. For more information, view  Alternatives to Pesticides (PDF 635K) or see Bugs and Pests (PDF 18M).

Slugs and snails
Prevention - remove garden debris, boards, and any others moist, dark place in the garden that slugs prefer during the daylight hours.
Physical deterrent - cut slugs in half with scissors, spray with a mixture of one part ammonia to three parts water, drop in a bucket of soapy water
Barriers - in drier conditions encircle the garden or individual plants with diatomaceous earth, wood ashes, crumbled egg or oyster shells.
Traps - a store-bought or home-found container buried so the rim is just above ground level filled with beer works wonderfully.

Dandelions 
Prevention - Do not allow plants to go to seed. Mow or cut heads of dandelions before seed heads form. Mulch beds to discourage weed establishment. After removal of dandelions, reseed the bare area left by the plant to discourage weed germination.
Control - Hand dig plant getting as much of the root as possible. Spot treat with boiling water, especially effective for treating the root after plant has been pulled.

Black Spot - Roses 
Prevention - Purchase a more disease resistant variety. Prune to improve air circulation. Do not water roses from overhead. Keep foliage as dry as possible.
Control - Remove infected leaves from the bush and ground. Dust with a finely ground sulfur when temperatures are below 85 degrees.

Along with promoting safer alternatives in the yard and garden, the NBB program promotes the use of alternatives to chemicals in the home environment as well. Modern household cleaners have become as dangerous as the germs and infections that they are promoted to eliminate. By using "green cleaning" methods, the household can become not only a clean environment for the family but a safe one as well. For specific household alternatives please,

Download the Home + Garage - Safer Alternatives: Reducing the Risk booklet (PDF 855K) to learn about specific household alternatives. 

Looking for information on the chemicals stored in your home or garage? The
Hazardous Materials in Your Home booklet (637K) offers tips on how to handle and dispose of chemicals properly.


Clark County Environmental Services - Recycling and Solid Waste
Peter DuBois, Acting Program Manager

Street Address: 1300 Franklin Street, 1st Floor, Vancouver, WA 98660
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 9810, Vancouver, WA 98666-9810
Main phone: (360) 397-2121 | Fax: (360) 397-2062
Relay 711 or (800) 833-6384
E-mail: solidwaste@clark.wa.gov

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