August 2017 – Rika Gopinath of Yard Smart Marin, and Leslie Alden, Aide to Supervisor Kate Sears, joined us at Driver’s to present on the overuse of pesticides in Marin gardens. Research tells us that pesticides like RoundUp Glyphosate are toxic, and the Marin County government has strictly regulated their use over the last decade. Yet RoundUp is routinely used on private property all over Marin, threatening our environment, our health and our water. The Yard Smart Marin coalition seeks to change that by promoting a holistic approach to pest control.
Glyphosate – What Marin is doing
This year, the weedkiller glyphosate, the key chemical used in RoundUp, was listed as a carcinogen by California Prop 65, also known as the Safe Drinking Water Act. Aware of the dangers of chemicals like glyphosate, the Marin County government has sharply limited their use. But the public has not. It is estimated that 99.5% of the glyphosate used in Marin is on private property.
Together with Supervisors Kathryn Sears and Katie Rice, concerned residents formed the Yard Smart Marin initiative, a diverse coalition of citizens who aim to raise awareness about pesticides.
This year, Yard Smart Marin will also focus on rodenticides (poisons intended to kill rodents) that harm hawks and other predators. Yard Smart Marin is funded by grants from the EPA and Marin County.
What is a Weed?
“To tackle weeds in your own backyard, we should broaden what we think of as weeds,” said Rika Gopinath. This approach calls for increasing our tolerance of harmless and edible weeds, and living with pests at low levels. For example: Dandelions provide pollen for bees in early spring, and they have medicinal properties; aphids can be okay in small numbers, and they also feed ladybugs.
For help identifying the weeds in your garden, go to www.yardsmartmarin.org
What you can do
• Increase your tolerance of weeds. Remember that some weeds feed bees, like clover and dandelion. Understand that weeds respond to conditions like over watering. Learn the life cycle of your plants. (Tip: cut Broom to ground level when it blooms in the spring!)
• Know which plants are invasive. Pull invasive weeds, and do not plant invasive plants like Pampas Grass and Yellow Flag Iris. Visit www.plantright.org for a regional “Do Not Plant” list complete with alternatives.
• Use non-chemical controls like hand-pulling and exclusion. Getting the right hand tools can make pulling weeds much easier.
• Dispose of pesticides at Marin Household Waste Facility so they don’t pollute the Bay.
Marin Master Gardeners tip line: 415-473-4204