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Greening Your Landscape

Arborist Michael Nadeau teaches residents about alternatives to harmful chemicals.

Master organic landscape gardener Michael Nadeau emphatically wants to drive the point home that putting harmful chemicals on your property negatively impacts humans, animals and the environment as a whole. 

Nadeau is also a founding member of the Organic Land Care Program, a sub-committee of the CT Northeast Organic Farmers Association (NOFA). He believes that rising cancer diagnoses in both people and pets, declining bee populations, and prematurely aging trees can all be attributed to applying detrimental chemicals to one's landscape. 

"If through this talk I stopped one person from putting harmful chemicals on their lawn I'll be happy," said Nadeau. 

Nadeau's company Plantscapes Organics in Fairfield is an organic design and building maintenance company that specializes in custom organic land care programs, which includes everything from sustainable landscapes, to lawn alternatives, to rain garden installation, to soil health and testing, to name only a few.   

At Thursday night's informative talk at Ambler Farm, Nadeau first explained that taking care of your landscape organically isn't just about the lawn. 

"It's the whole landscape, including the wetlands on the property," he said.

Before you do anything yourself, Nadeau suggested having your soil tested to see what your soil needs. 

"You want to do a Bioassay Soil Test," said Nadeau, "because you need to find out the biology and not just the chemicals, which is what a traditional soil test would tell you." 

The test can be done through www.soilfoodweb.com.  It's pricey though.  The test is $240 but Nadeau said it is worth it.  "This is the only test I know of that tests biology."

Organic landscaping isn't just about using a less harmful chemical instead of a deadly one; it is an entirely different way of thinking. 

"It is working with nature instead of against it," said Nadeau. 

For instance, planting Dutch White Clover in your lawn eliminates the need to fertilize because it fertilizes the grass and soil naturally.

What if you have a pest issue though, like grubs?  Nadeau has an organic solution for homeowners here too.     

"Grubex has been proven to be part of the bee population decline," said Nadeau. 

His solution is the use of nematodes.  These microscopic worms seek out grubs and destroy them by laying their eggs within the grub's body, thereby killing the pest.  It is a solution that lasts for six years.

Ticks are a major concern, especially in Fairfield County.  Nadeau said that stone walls are havens for ticks because the white-footed mouse is the main carrier of Lyme's Disease-carrying ticks and these mice live in rock walls. 

To save an aesthetically pleasing rock wall, applying woodchips along the base of the wall as a barrier prevents the ticks from invading your lawn because crossing the jagged chips slices open their exoskeleton and they know better and stay away. 

"The chips must be replaced annually," advised Nadeau, "and keep the area free of vegetation".

Nadeau didn't always think this way.  In college he was taught better living though chemicals. 

"Over the years though, I learned as an arborist that trees suffered from fertilizers." 

Many lawn care products contain nitrogen which causes trees to grow rapidly and therefore the tree dies early.

"What goes on the ground, goes in the sound, and everywhere in between," is Nadeau's motto.   

For more information on Nadeau's company visit www.plantscapesorganics.com.

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