OK, so this is more of a gardening question than it is a dog one I'm not really serious about trying to teach Macula to eat my weeds (unless you think it would work?!?), but since at least one other recent thread has gone wildly off topic into the garden zone, I figured I'd ask anyway.

I've always been leary of pesticides, when Macula started using the backyard I became warier (sp?) still. Now that the rugrats are going to be crawling (and walking!! what's happening to my babies?!?!?!?!?!?!) around on the grass, I'm not sure there are any chemicals that are safe. Besides, Toronto has passed a by-law banning pesticide use for "cosmetic" reasons, which means within two years the nasty poisons won't even be an option.

That said, I still have a problem with weeds: dandelions and thistles in particular. I mean, I have dandelions reaching two feet tall, and thistles that hide in the grass just waiting to attack the unsuspecting barefoot (or other bare piece of anatomy in the case of kidlets). This isn't good. Neither (I think) is the fact that I've caught the boys chewing dandelion stems (and fluff and flowers and roots yet they show no interest in the greens which, I understand, are the edible part of the plant).

I've tried digging them out by hand: when I did manage to get the entire root (rarely) I discovered I had merely traded a bad weed for a really big hole (on average, about ten inches deep and about six inches in diameter). I figure that this is simply creating a lawn which will allow all critters, two and four legged, to twist/sprain/break limbs.
So, any ideas? I can't use chemicals, I don't want craters, and lack of time is a constant in my life. And so far Macula, my ever-lovin' garbage gut, shows no appetite for plant life. Any one have a goat I can borrow? (Oh wait, I'm a citydweller: goats aren't allowed, they are "domestic animals." Phooey.)
TIA
Marie
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So, any ideas?

Sure - don't dig taprooted weeds out, use a lifter. No hole, or at least not much of one. Just shove it down next to the root and lever it out.
http://www.gardenerstoolshed.com/gardenerstoolshed/html/dandelion weeder.html
Melinda Shore - Software longa, hardware brevis - (Email Removed)

As a result of the Bush tax cuts, taxes on wages are now 2.5 times greater than taxes on investment income.
OK, so this is more of a gardening question than it is a dog one I'm not really serious about trying ... since at least one other recent thread hasgone wildly off topic into the garden zone, I figured I'd ask anyway.

mow the lawn at about 2.5-3 inches, often. once a week, if possible. overseed with grass. grass is a worse weed than the other weeds, and will choke them out.
always cut dandelions before they go to flower, and eventually they'll go away. oh, and they're actually pretty good for you (stem and root too), so i wouldn't worry about the kids eating them.
the thistle, i'm not sure about, we don't have them where i live.

but the #1 secret to a good lawn is to keep the grass happy. it'll do the rest for you.
-kelly
So, any ideas?

Sure - don't dig taprooted weeds out, use a lifter. No hole, or at least not much of one. Just shove it down next to the root and lever it out.

http://www.gardenerstoolshed.com/gardenerstoolshed/html/dandelion weeder.html

Hmmm...I've bent a couple of those things in half, and still only gotten part of the root. My in-laws gave me one of these:

http://www.leevalley.com/garden/page.aspSID=&ccurrency=2&page=10418&category=2,2160,40706

(they upgraded to this:
http://www.leevalley.com/garden/page.aspSID=&ccurrency=2&page=10419&category=2,2300,44822 )

but it was what helped create the craters. Wierdly enough, the one thing I did discover while flooding roots is that none of my taproots seem to go straight down they kinda angle off to one side or the other.

Marie
I don't know about thistles but have lots of experience with dandelions. They're quite harmless. If the boys or dog eat any part of the plant, it will do no more harm than any other dirt. You can mow them which is probably your best bet. Just keep them the height of the grass; the lawn will look fine. If you don't have time to pull them out, you can prevent a lot of their spread by picking the yellow flowers before they turn into wispy seeds. If you're intent on digging that hole to get the root (one of the most satisfying feelings is pulling out the whole root), walk around with spade, a small bag of dirt and some grass seed. You excavate the dandelion, fill the hole, plant some grass.
I have less experience with thistles and consider them more dangerous. I'd turn my attention to digging them out.I love the idea of forbidding the cosmetic use of pesticide and look forward to hearing how it turns out. Around here, some neighbors have these perfect green lawns that I now view as weird looking, not attractive. They look like a science fiction landscape. I wouldn't be comfortable on them. Then there's the lawn at my house and my next door neighbors. They have a house full of kids. Their lawn looks a little weedy, a little strewn with plastic toys, a bit overgrown but still basically picked up.

I mean, we're not talking junk yard, just lived in, and they put roses and perennials. I like that look far more. And then there are the really gutsy neighbors who put vegetable gardens in their front yards where there's more sun. I'd 20 times rather look at tomato plants than exotic purple flowers surrounded by bark mulch.
But I digress. I was thinking about the pesticide ban. My hope would be that the standard for what's attractive would go back 50 years, and people would start, once again, thinking that a mown lawn with a few nice plants is good enough, not those green carpets with nary a leaf out of place. My guess is that a certain number of people will insist that they can't live without their weedkiller and will come up with all sorts of excuses as to why they have to use it.
Lia
Around here, some neighbors have these perfect green lawns that I now view as weird looking, not attractive.

Two of the houses along my stretch of road have lawns like that (and huge - a couple of acres each). I've talked with one of the owners about how he gets it like that. He doesn't use any chemicals. He just mows. Constantly. Nearly every day, all summer long. And he makes a point of keeping the blades on his mower deck as sharp as possible. Really, you've never seen anybody mow as much as this guy. I think it looks overly fastidious and artificial, but he's got a couple of kids who make good use of the huge, tidy lawn, so that's something.

Melinda Shore - Software longa, hardware brevis - (Email Removed)

As a result of the Bush tax cuts, taxes on wages are now 2.5 times greater than taxes on investment income.
Two of the houses along my stretch of road have lawns like that (and huge - a couple of acres ... artificial, but he's got a couple of kids who make good use of the huge, tidy lawn, so that's something.[/nq]Well that's something to think about. I'm sure we won't make that trade-off of time invested to beautiful lawn, but it is nice to know that it can be accomplished without the chemicals. I'm not sure if it is the law or advertising or habit, but here the chemical companies put a little 6" tag on the lawn by the sidewalk saying that the yard has been treated and to keep animals and children off it. And come to think of it, one of my neighbors with the nicest lawn (who also has the cool vegetable garden right in the middle of it) never has a chemical tag.

I like this guy. He used to give me a dirty look when I walked by with Cubbe, but I think he realized that we never hurt his lawn and that I always clean up. He's out there constantly mowing or raking or planting. I kept waving and smiling, and now he waves and says hello back.
Lia
That said, I still have a problem with weeds: dandelions and thistles in particular.

Dandelions are FLOWERS! Wild flowers but still flowers. And when they go to seed you can make wishes on them - hence they are Magic Flowers.

And they don't last all that long. We live with them.

Thistles get dug. It takes a while to get them all but it can be done. We used to have a weekly volleyball game in our back yard and worked at digging all the thistles out over the course of summer. It's been years and they're just now starting to come back. Those of us who walk around in barefeet notice and they get promptly dug.
~~Judy
Two of the houses along my stretch of road have lawns like that (and huge - a couple of acres ... artificial, but he's got a couple of kids who make good use of the huge, tidy lawn, so that's something.

I'd wager that he doesn't collect and bag the clippings, either, but leaves them on the lawn.
FurPaw
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