A long time ago lawn care and manicured lawns were not on people’s minds. Nature was allowed to take its course and native trees, plants, grasses and flowers grew as nature intended. Our ancestors never would have imagined a future where every home had grass of the same height and color, machines to keep grasses short, fertilizers to make lawns lush and chemicals to kill any sign of life that interfered with the perfect turf look homeowner’s strive for.
Today however lawn care is big business and “everybody’s doing it.” Families invest a lot of time and money into keeping their grass on par with their neighbors. This isn’t happening only in newer subdivisions that are cropping up across the country. Driving through small rural towns shows the same results – everyone is trying to achieve lawn perfection. The grass truly isn’t greener on the other side anymore, it is absolutely the same hue!
One obvious downside to manicured lawns across the country is that natural beauty is being replaced by a look similar to a golf course or football field. But aside from the negative aesthetic qualities of all lawns looking alike, there are some other costs to both you and the environment, such as:
WASTING PRECIOUS TIME
Fighting nature to produce a perfectly cropped, lush green lawn takes a lot of time. Most homes have front and back yards requiring care continually. If rain hasn’t fallen in some time, the sprinklers must be put out to keep the bright green color from turning to brown. If rain is falling a few times per week, the quickly growing grass needs continuous mowing so as not to become “unsightly.” Maintaining a lawn requires constant attention and work, even if your life is busy outside of the home.
STRAINING YOUR BUDGET
To achieve the desired effect of green carpeting, which entails fighting nature, you will invest a lot of money that could be used for other things. Lawnmowers, chemicals, fertilizers and hiring professionals when problems arise places a large strain on a family’s budget.
NEGATIVE IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT
Nature knows what she needs to keep everything in balance and harmony. Any time we interfere with the process, we leave a lasting impact on the earth. Unfortunately it is not only commonplace to find manicured lawns everywhere this day and age, homeowner’s associations in residential neighborhoods are demanding inhabitants produce these unnatural landscapes. The idea has caught on now that all lawns need to look a certain way, which is negatively impacting the environment.
Can you imagine the amount of water wasted with every homeowner watering the grass all summer long? The fuel wasted by gas mowers and leaf blowers? In addition, every home applying pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers endangers our water supply. These chemicals go into the soil, they do not evaporate or disappear, and have an impact on humans as well as birds, fish and insects. Multiply that impact by every person using these treatments and you will quickly grasp the immensity of the problem. Also, these lawns contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. If you were to fly over neighborhoods and communities during the summer, you would get the true picture of the damage being caused to the earth from the large amount of people engaging in these unsafe, unhealthy lawn maintenance practices.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?
The best thing to do is to spread the word about these facts. Currently, the negative social stigma attached to people with imperfect lawns and unmowed grass means there is a large uphill climb ahead to change people’s perceptions about lawns. Distribute flyers in your neighborhood or give a presentation at your homeowner’s association meeting. At a minimum, if the lawns must be the same, encourage natural and environmentally friendly fertilizer such as corn meal. Use a push mower and rake instead of a gas-powered mower. Encourage deep watering that occurs less frequently and cut grass higher.
If you do not live in a restricted area, where you have freedom over care for your lawn, then you can create an environmentally friendly landscape that sets you apart from the Joneses. Many people are reducing their lawn size or getting rid of lawns altogether. In its place, they use ground cover like moss or clover. They also use shrubs, mulch, sand and even stones to replace the former lawn area. Using native trees, grasses and plants that are naturally suited for your area and climate also require less maintenance and care to thrive.
There are endless opportunities available to reduce or replace your lawn. If you are one who loves lawn care and working outside, use that energy on designing a new, natural and earth-friendly landscape you can be proud of!