Exterior Home Maintenance

There is so much we can do to improve our health.  Did you know that the way we design and maintain our yards affect our health outcomes?   The environment is just another word for the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the soil from which we eat.



  • Leaves 
    • We need to re-think leaves and what we do with them (see below), but if you’re even considering using the leaf blower, think again….
      • Formaldehyde – Leaf blowers give off formaldehyde.  they leave behind a plume of carcinogenic haze that hangs in the air for hours after they’re gone. The noise pollution is devastating for wildlife as well, and when my neighbor is using their leaf blower, it makes me want to cry because my entire body becoems tense and I begin feeling strange vibrations in my body.  Bad new bears.
    • to mimic the natural ecosystem an animal needs, a layer of leaves needs to be at least a couple of inches thick.  While this would be too much of a good thing for turf grass to handle – research has shown that lawns actually benefit from a thin layer of leaves, and the rest can be piled up around ornamental trees, shrubs, and perennials to no ill effect.If you must keep your lawn clear of leaves – try opting for raking or using a leaf vacuum to capture whole leaves, rather than shredding them with a mower and make a leaf pile in a corner of your yard.
    • Use your leaves in composting piles, or use them as material to soak up moisture and odors in your kitchen bucket where you are hopefully collecting your food scraps to take to the community garden compost pile at the end of the week!


  • Lighting
lighting best practice outside
from http://www.cescos.fau.edu

Find out more about outdoor lighting best practices here: http://www.darksky.org/lighting/lighting-basics/.

Use the tips on this page to address light pollution from a neighbor: http://www.darksky.org/lighting/my-neighbors-lighting/.



  • Pest Control – Beyond Pesticide website if you have a pest problem outside or on the lawn, such as ticks, chiggers, poison ivy, squirrels, wasps, and even more ‘pests’ like apple or pear scab, dandelions, etc, visit the where you can search for least toxic solutions for managing the pest.
    • “There’s a Lonicera species — a honeysuckle — that reduces mosquito egg-laying wherever it grows. The mosquitoes that it discourages happen to carry dengue fever and a number of other viruses that cause encephalitis — inflammation of the brain. And it turns out that the plant is also a treatment for inflammation in the central nervous system.” – Stephen Buhner
    • Make a non-toxic trap.
    • If there’s still too many mosquitos, try coconut oil!  Studies say it is 90% as effective as DEET?


  • Noise – if your lawn area isn’t too large, consider using a motor-less lawn mower.  Noise pollution is a huge issue and detracts from the peacefulness of the neighborhood.  Avoid the temptation to use leaf blowers.  Accept a little messy in your life, or employ a broom.  It is nature, after all.