Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Algae or vinyl siding: one of these is a problem

Over the four years we have lived in our house, one of the features I speak of the least - because I can hardly stand to think of it - is our vinyl siding on the top half of the house. The movie "Blue Vinyl" explains in detail why I dislike it, in part, although I recognize that it is low maintenance. If I had a green building home, obviously vinyl siding would have no place in it.
But we have it, just like we have my husband's grandfather's Buick, and it is just as functional, and it fits our budget because it was just handed down to us from the previous owners. I figure the only worse thing than having it would be wasting it, even if we had the money to replace it with some wonderful, asthetically pleasing, recycled wood alternative.
Recently, the front (north) side of our vinyl siding had become spotted with algae. I like to think of algae as just another one of our pet weeds, but I had to admit, the stuff was unsightly. Frankly, it was making the rest of my weeds look bad, because it made our property appear generally unkempt, rather than selectively maintained, as I like to think of our diverse lawn.
So Tuesday, Brian got out a ladder and helped me get set up, and I gingerly climbed up (using all the nerve I gained by ziplining and climbing at Horseshoe Canyon) and washed off the algae, section by section, using plain white vinegar. The whole job took perhaps an hour, including a number of trips down the ladder to rinse out my washcloth with more white vinegar, pouring the old on the grass...
Perhaps you see where this is going. Today I noticed a brown, crinkly patch of grass, strangely enough right where I was emptying my bucket every few minutes. I've heard before about the herbicidal effects of white vinegar, and I obviously believed them enough to use it to clean algae, but I figured it was just a quick burn, a household-safe, non-suicidal version of paraquat. I really didn't think it would kill my turf: hardy, diverse stuff that it is.
I *think* the grass and clover will come back, but I'm not sure. Former certified pesticide applicator that I am, I can't read the label for vinegar, because there isn't a label for it. I'm happy to take bets, though: will the algae on the vinyl siding come back first, or the grass?

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