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When Neighbors Use Toxic Materials
|Many of us are avoiding certain products for a number of reasons. They could be that we are sensitive to them, we have pets, children, elderly family members, or that we love butterflies, birds and amphibians that grace the outdoor areas around our homes.|
Sometimes neighbors don't see it our way. What to do?
If you are upwind or uphill from the neighbors, the likelihood of contamination is much lower. Landforms don't change much without earthquakes or bulldozers, but winds do shift.
Consider a windbreak planting. It doesn't have to be Lombardy poplar, the tall, slender plant recommended for homesteads in the midwest for many decades.
Try agastache (anise hyssop), for a slender herbaceous windbreak. If the spraying occurs before herbaceous windbreaks have a chance to mature, consider shrubs. Remember that if the purpose of the plant is to catch toxic materials, it may be best to use ornamental plants so no one will be tempted to eat possibly contaminated tissue.
Just remember the best approach is to find something native to our area. If you don't find a native that will work in that spot, be sure that what you plant is not invasive.
If you are downhill from the source of materials that you don't want in your soil, swales and berms can work very nicely to redirect water. If you have the space and interest, you could set up a lovely rain garden, filled with plants that hold and/or break down toxins. There are many references online and through extension services that can help you design and build these landscape gems.
I have been told by gardening buddies that sometimes neighbors notice how beautiful gardens can be without the expense and risk of the products they have used, and they begin to adopt different ways of managing pests and fertility. In those cases, a great long-term strategy to protect yourself and your land is to set a stellar example!