Your green lawn might not be as environmentally friendly as you think.
I’m not a fan of grass.
I mean the “well-manicured, pristine, green postage stamp” lawn.
Not that it doesn’t look good or provide a great spot for kids to run around in or even the picturesque picnic.
It is all of those things, but it’s also taking up valuable land that could be used for growing food. It overtakes the natural vegetation that allows pollinators to thrive.
Did you know the EPA, EPA.gov, found that ⅓ of all public water used/consumed by Americans is used to water lawns? And of that ⅓ “used”, 50% of it is wasted.
So basically we’re wasting 4.5 Billion gallons of water every day. If that doesn’t sound like a lot to you, then I’m not sure what would.
Oh, and to top it off, turfgrass is the largest irrigated crop in the country!! Think about how many food-producing crops could use that.
That’s all just water. Manicured green grass lawns also offer very little benefit to even harmful impacts to the earth.
“Their maintenance produces more greenhouse gases than they absorb, and they are biodiversity deserts that have contributed to vanishing insect populations.” Matthew Ponsford, CNN.
Think about it, you have this lush green grass. Which requires watering and mowing. Also going to guess that most people out there don’t have an electric mower or self-propelled, which means gas.
Charlotte Fairlie, Iowa City Press-Citizen, points out, “Americans use 800 million gallons of gasoline and spill a further 17 million. Burning all that gas releases 16 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.”
And as far as the birds, the bees, and the butterflies, it basically does nothing of value.
“You might as well have AstroTurf when it comes to the value of lawns to birds and butterflies,” said David Mizejewski, a naturalist at the National Wildlife Federation.
Plus — they kind of stem from a pretty negative origin.
Pre-1900s starting in castles such as Versailles, then becoming a sign of a wealthy aristocrat. Basically, they were for people who didn’t need that coveted space for crops and who could also afford human labor to keep the grass kept short.
Highly envied by the lower & middle class.
It was a status symbol, and it still is.
Ronda Kaysen, NY Times, puts it, “In California, years of drought turned the manicured lawn into a potent symbol of wealth and excess, as sprawling properties in Los Angeles enclaves like Bel Air stayed green at a time when millions of homeowners across the state were turning to drought-resistant alternatives.”
That’s a bit distressing, but we each can help.
Do you really need all that grass? Will your Home Owner’s Association allow you to deviate from grass?
If you can, why not plant a pollinator garden or sprinkle some native wildflowers? You’d be able to spend less time mowing and more time enjoying, all while helping the environment.
If you’re up for even more and enjoy working outside, then a garden and pollinator plants would be beneficial on many fronts. You’d end up with seasonal vegetables, saving money at the grocery.
Creating a pollinator garden can seem a bit overwhelming upfront, but the U.S. Forest Service has pulled together many beneficial links to get you started: Gardening for Pollinators.
I highly recommend you also check out your local City’s website as they may have information as well. I’m in Asheville, and they’ve pulled together a list of native pollinator plans for beginner, intermediate, and advanced level: Native Pollinator-Friendly Plants and Local Suppliers.
My husband and I both knew if we ever owned something with grass, we would adjust it to a more pollinator-friendly & food-providing garden.
We just bought a house with a yard, so now it’s time to get to work.