In a post earlier this year I asked “Are you ready to give up your lawn?” The motivation behind the question was sincere but, now that I’m neck deep in organic horticulture studies, I’ve realized I was really just jumping on a bandwagon.
Sneering at lawns has seemed the politically correct thing to do for awhile now. And a month ago I wouldn’t have guessed that organic horticulture sees a place for lawns in the grand scheme of doing more good than harm to the environment. Hey, even the David Suzuki Foundation is cool with lawns. They just don’t want you using pesticides on them. Live and learn.
If there is a finger to be pointed, it should point directly at us, not the grass. When we overwater our lawns, the excess water leaches out the good nutrition in the soil and carries it into our overworked sewers. When we add unnecessary fertilizers and pesticides, they can harm the soil and start an irreversible process of forever having to add more chemicals. Great for the grass amendments sellers. Not so great for the environment.
So, by way of apologies to lawns everywhere, here’s a quick list of what turf actually gives us.
- Grass adds to your topsoil when you leave the clippings and let the earthworms and natural processes do their thing.
- A big patch of lawn helps to cool the environment–a great help when you’re surrounded by asphalt roads.
- Grass absorbs carbon dioxide. In fact, 2,500 square feet of the green stuff will absorb CO2 while releasing enough oxygen for a family of four.
How do we do our bit to make our lawns into do-gooders all the time? It’s actually pretty straightforward when you think about it:
1. Let your grass go dormant during dry spells rather than over-watering. Yes, it’ll turn brown. But it’ll bounce back.
2. Mow it less and mow it higher. Better still, invest in a push mower (if you can) to avoid all those gas emissions.
3. Live with a few weeds rather than resorting to pesticides/fertilizers that are doing no good to the soil or our water resources.
4. Choose a more eco-friendly grass to begin with. Try a drought-tolerant, very slow growing grass to reduce watering and mowing.