b'67 million pounds of pesticides are used on American lawns every year.Lawn pesticides get carried indoors on shoes and paws and can persist for months in your homeand the air or trapped in carpets, dust, toys, etc.Step 2 - Be Patient, Poisoned Soils Need Time to Heal The sooner you stop using toxic chemicals, the faster your soil will regain its natural health. Past use of lawn chemicals mayhave destroyed the microbiotic life that exists in healthy soil; it may take three years for your soil to recover its natural defenses. Meanwhile, there are nonpoisonous methods to treat for pests; consult the Resources listed in Chapter 13. Step 3 - Reduce the Size of Your Lawn Reduce your grass area enough to allow hand-powered reel mowing.It will provide you with a good cardiovascular workout without gym fees or air and noise pollution.In surrounding yard areas, create a Cape Cod meadow for native grasses and wildfl owers that will sustain butterfl ies, bees, and lightening bugs.The Conservation Commission can provide you with suggestions for meadow plant mixtures for your planting conditions and tell you where you can buy the seed. Mow your meadow only once a year, in early May, to eliminate encroaching woody plants. Replace other lawn areas with native bushes and trees, a vegetable garden, and fern and moss beds for shady places.Plant groundcovers on steep slopes where mowing is dangerous. If the above steps seem too extreme for you, reduce your lawn gradually; simply mow fewer rows each year. For those homeowners that live adjacent to waterbodies, it is important to eliminate mowing within up to 50ft or more from the waterbody and let native grasses and woody growth overtake the lawn.Step 4 - Let the Clippings Fall Where They May Keep mower blades sharp and mow to a height of 3 inches.Mow often enough so that no more than 1/3 of the grass height is removed with each cutting. Forget raking. If left on the ground, grass clippings provide more than a third of the nutrients your lawn needs. They decompose quickly thanks to earthworms and microorganisms. Clippings also conserve water by shading the soil from the sun and reducing moisture loss from evaporation. If you end up with extra grass clippings use them in the compost pile. Step 5 - Fertilize with Compost OnlyThe best and safest alternative for the Cape Cod lawn is no fertilizer. Approximately15% of the nitrogen that washes into our bays is from residential fertilizer use.Na-tive grasses and wildfl owers have always done well on their own. If you enjoy working on your patch of grass, feed it compost made from your own kitchen and yard wastes. If youre still hooked on fertilizer from a bottle or a bag, go organic or insist that your lawn company does. Measure and calculate your lawns square footage. Apply slow release insoluble organic fertilizer in spring and fall, adding no more than 1 pound of actual nitrogen per thousand square feet of lawn. The more you fertilize the more you mow.3 million tons of fertilizers are used annually on American lawns to keep them greener than normal or necessary. Page 50 bluepages.indd 50 8/26/2009 1:52:37 PM'