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Treating your lawn? Double check the label

For better or worse, lawns have become the status symbol of suburbia, with some homeowners going to great lengths to nurture and grow flawless grass. My lawn is small and shrinking more every year as the beds and borders grow and expand over it like Chinatown over Little Italy. And my lawn isn't so much rye, bluegrass or fescue as it is chickweed, crabgrass and dandelion. As long as it looks green when neatly mowed and trimmed, I'm happy. Still, I acknowledge there are those who spray and treat in their quest to achieve turfgrass perfection.

A few years ago, a reader wrote to me asking if there was anything he could do to reverse the damage done to his lawn after he applied weed killer instead of fertilizer. There wasn't, I told him, and he vowed never to garden without his reading glasses again. A philanthropic man in Minnesota recently also used the wrong product on this lawn and killed it -- all 40,000 square feet of it.

Yahoo News tells me this morning that Rob Olson, owner of the huge lawn, was trying to spruce it up in advance of the annual music festival fundraiser he hosts at his Lake Elmo home. So he did what any suburban lawn lover would do. He bought weed killer.

In Olson's defense, he did do his due diligence, consulting with a garden center employee for help in selecting a product that would target weeds and allow his lawn to thrive. But the man was led astray, and the entire lawn was knocked off. Brown. Crunchy. Music festival, which raised $20,000 last year, canceled.

You might not have as much at stake, but nobody likes a crunchy lawn, not even me. Please read all package labels yourself, even the fine print, before using any products on your plants.

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