For years I could brag…I have no lawn. That was when I lived in the desert though. Now I am in the Midwest and yes I do have a lawn and it is enough to make an eco conscious person want to faint. Using a gas mower for one hour will produce the same pollution as driving a car 1300 miles. Ouch! Guess what I have and what I use to mow my lawn? You guessed it…a gas mower. So there is my great green guilty confession for the week. To ease things up a bit we tilled up some land for two big gardens, so that took a nice chunk of our mowing land out of the equation. We are also thinking about getting one of these nifty Cordless Mulching Lawn Mowers. It is the only cordless mower that has the Energy Star rating. That coupled with a manual mower will help us cut down on carbon emissions even further. It would have to be a family affair.
This issue got me to thinking about what other steps we can take towards natural and green lawn care for a cleaner safer environment…
According to the U.S. National Wildlife Federation, over 70 million tons of fertilizers and pesticides are applied to residential lawns and gardens annually. What most of the users of the tons of fertilizers and pesticides used per year are not aware of is that the chemicals they are using is doing more harm than good. This harm has a high environmental cost.
The fact is that lawns are for more than making your home look good. There are many benefits to having a properly nurtured lawn. They aren’t all BAD.
One of the benefits of grass is that it absorbs water, helping to reduce storm runoff and improve water quality. It also has a cooling effect, provide oxygen, traps dust and dirt and filters rainwater contaminants. The focus then, for those with lawns, needs to be on reducing dependence on chemical fertilizers and developing a healthy lawn that is naturally resistant to weeds, insects, and diseases.
If a lawn needs to be fertilized more than once a year some steps towards improvement must be made. Things like improving the soil, choosing locally adapted grass, mowing often but not too short, watering deeply but not to often, and controlling thatch build-up are all important steps towards developing and maintaining a healthy lawn. These steps are all health basics for proper and natural lawn care.
Caring for the lawn is not just a physical aspect, either. It should also be an environmental importance. A lawn nurturer should water grass early in the morning to help reduce water usage, leave some clippings on the lawn to help reduce the need for fertilizer; and control weeds with natural ingredients like corn gluten or spot-treat them with vinegar. Another good water conservation tip is to water with rain you have collected in barrels or garbage cans.
There are some who feel that leaving behind grass clippings keeps a lawn looking untidy. A few important facts about leaving grass clippings that should be considered are that you will have 45% less crab grass, up to 66% less disease, more earth worms, more water reaching the plant roots, 25% greater root mass, and 50% reduced need for nitrogen fertilizer. It should also be noted that by using your grass clippings as mulch you are not adding plastic bags filled with grass to landfills hence you are doing one more green friendly deed. We leave a light dusting of grass clippings on the lawn and then with the rest we compost it.
So these are only a few of the ways that you can care for your grass naturally. I would love to hear some tips from you if you have them…leave a comment. It is important to take the time educate yourself on how grass responds to chemical care, over watering and improper mowing and the harm they can cause. Learn about the natural techniques you need to apply for healthier lawn care and take the steps to developing and maintaining a naturally nurtured lawn.
I know I love to walk in the grass barefoot whenever I can and my kids play on the lawn constantly. So we need healthy grass and a non-toxic environment for our family. Even though there is a lot to consider I am not trading my lawn in for the desert again any time soon. Here is too a summer of fun!