In suburbs across the country, homes tend to look pretty similar, without much by which to tell them apart. Rows of tidy, mostly uniform houses line the streets like so many toy soldiers, painted all different shades of pastel. Two stories, one story, victorian, traditional or contemporary, these houses all have one thing in common: the lawn.
Now, anyone who’s ever been tasked with maintaining a lawn knows that this isn’t exactly an easy endeavor. Lawns take a lot of hard work to keep in shape, and require you to put a lot of painstaking time and effort into making sure your lawn is an even, luscious green rather than a sad, patchy brown mess.
However, there’s more to landscaping than just making sure the grass is greener on your side of the fence. Lawncare has a surprisingly profound effect on the environment, more so than you may have ever imagined. From the harmful environmental effects of noxious lawn care chemicals to the problems created by excessive watering, there’s a lot to go over. Let’s begin!
Considering how ubiquitous the idea of a well manicured lawn as a social norm seems to be in popular culture, it’s no surprise that the environmental impact of lawns is particularly noteworthy. So what impact do lawns have on the environment, more exactly? And how can you take care of your lawn while remaining environmentally conscious? Let’s find out!
Here, we’ll talk about some of the ways your lawn can negatively impact the environment, and some practices to avoid when caring for your lawn. There are quite a few common practices that should be avoided, and you might be surprised to learn just how harmful some of them actually are to the environment.
First and foremost, the use of toxic pesticides and herbicides is a huge problem that can cause a wide variety of negative effects. Let’s take common pesticides for example. While these are initially successful in curbing invasive insect species and preventing damage to plants, studies have shown that they tend to cause mutations in insect species that result in pesticide-resistant genetic strains.
It doesn’t end there, however. The effect mentioned above has been shown to occur with herbicides and invasive plant species as well, and the common use of these chemicals has resulted in the proliferation of dozens of new strains of invasive plants.
There are other harmful effects as well; many seemingly inane lawn care chemicals have been linked to chronic illnesses, in addition to negatively impacting the nutrient balance of the soil. The simplest solution to these problems is to research any chemicals you use on your lawn, and avoid using any that have negative effects on the environment.
Another seemingly harmless practice that can actually do a great deal of harm to the environment is watering your lawn. That’s right; what may seem like a perfectly ordinary, inane practice can actually do a great deal of damage to the environment, resulting in serious, wide-scale consequences for entire regions.
The biggest reason why excessively watering your lawn can be detrimental to the environment is drought. While some areas don’t have to worry about this problem due to low population density, in large suburbs like those in Los Angeles, Houston and other cities with arid or semi-arid climates overwatering is a huge problem.
In areas like these, water is scarce due to the number of people that rely on a single water source. In areas like these, suburban neighborhoods have a profound impact on the water table, often being one of the most prominent causes of drought cited by authorities.
To remedy your lawn watering woes, a great option is artificial grass. While there are a lot of arguments in the artificial grass vs. real grass debate, artificial grass has the potential to grant you a gorgeous lawn without wreaking havoc on the water table.
Additionally, excessive watering can wreak havoc on your soil, washing away nutrients and minerals crucial for the health of your lawn. The solution to this problem is simple; comply with your local laws regarding water conservation, and research how frequently lawns in your area should be watered.
If you are like the majority of suburban homeowners, you probably own some landscaping equipment. Depending on the size of your lawn, this might mean a 60” Hustler zero-turn lawn mower and collection of trimmers, leaf blowers and edgers, or just a simple walk-behind mower and some lawn shears.
Regardless of what lawn equipment you use, the sad truth is that this equipment, likely as not, emits harmful greenhouse gases and contributes to smog and other environmental problems. While not as impactful as cars or shipping vessels, gas powered lawn care machinery has a marked impact on local environments and can be severely detrimental to the environment in your area.
If you want to reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to a healthier local and global environment, the best option is electric or manual equipment. If you have a particularly small lawn, a non-powered push mower may be a suitable option; if not, a cord or battery powered walk behind or ride-on lawn mower may be the best option.
After reading all of this, you may be wondering: “how can I take care of my lawn without damaging the environment?” Well, it may be a bit harder than your normal lawn care routine, but it’s worth it; with a bit of added effort, you can have a healthy, vibrantly green lawn and rest easy knowing you’re having a net positive impact on the environment.
What’s more, a responsible lawn care routine can actually raise the value of your home! By nurturing your lawn using sustainable energy, eco-friendly pest and weed control methods and non-gmo grass seeds, you can add an attractive layer of eco-consciousness to your listing, should you choose to sell your home.
Lawns are a vital part of everyday life in the suburbs. That feeling of satisfaction you feel after you’ve just given your turf a fresh cut is like no other. And, when you’ve adopted ecologically friendly lawn care practices, you can rest assured that your sense of satisfaction is well deserved, and doesn’t do the earth any harm!
When you consider the fact that an environmentally friendly lawn care regimen can also increase the value of your home, there’s no excuse not to adopt one. And, at the end of the day we’ve only got one planet; it’s worth a couple of extra dollars and hours a week to do your part in keeping it green and thriving!