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Lawns and Sustainability

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Will sustainable lawns become a reality?

The main reason behind the recent anti-lawn movement really is a sustainability concern: but sustainable lawns may actually become common practice.

Lawns cover 2% of U.S. land. Despite many trends suggesting lawn alternatives (growing vegetables, using rocks or mulching), the anti-lawn movement is barely taking foot — even after increasing concerns regarding water shortages, greenhouse gas emissions, chemicals, and pollinator conservation.

The persistence of lawns really is based on cultural affection. There are somewhere around 40 million acres of lawn in the United States, according to a 2005 NASA analysis based on satellite imaging. “Turf grasses, occupying 1.9% of the surface of the continental United States, would be the single largest irrigated crop in the country,” that study concludes.

Naturalized lawns

Many also see lawns as anti-natural. Nature existing in an artificial state, to please the human eye. As a quote by writer Michael Pollan goes, “Lawn is nature under totalitarian regime”. We as lawn maintenance professionals are not really fond of this quote which makes us appear as heartless soldiers. You may as well let your lawn grow in a wild state, but will likely encounter problems such as snakes and pests. So, unless you are okay with that, there is a reason why lawn maintenance exists. It may not sound as poetic as a natural wildly grown grass and weeds, but it’s just a very practical need in most cases. Last but not least: you are often going to be fined for unkept lawns.

The truth is that turf grass is a multibillion-dollar industry. Of course there is nothing wrong with the existence of the lawn care industry, which provides millions of jobs in the county. The main concern is — as stated earlier — sustainability.

Eco-friendly lawns

Chemicals: fertilizers and pesticides. Carbon emissions: almost all lawn care equipment runs on gas. Water consumption: it is estimated that 75% of a household’s water consumption is used for irrigation.

However, there should be a balance between preserving our cultural landscape, keeping all lawn care jobs and help ing the planet. We as lawn care professionals are environment conscious, and have listed possible solutions: using organic replacements to fertilizers and pesticides, sun powered equipment and re-using water for irrigation. Perhaps Google Sustainability will help in achieving the right technology in doing so. For the time being, organic lawns are the best solution for both the environment and the health of pets and homeowners:

There are practices all homeowners and lawn maintenance professionals should follow, which can be found in this document.

Is that going to be a possibility in the near future? Will the lawn care industry adapt, or should it be regulated? The short answer is: yes. This can happen. The right question should be: will the average homeowner adapt to organic practices? This might be difficult indeed. As a society, we are used to having it all and immediately. We want a fertilizer application which will turn our grass to a greener turf in no time. We hardly want to wait for longer, but safer, organic procedures. Therefore, we really think that unless the average person understands and decides to adopt the right approach to sustainable lawn care, things are likely not to change in the near future.

We always encourage customers to choose green, eco-friendly approaches: for their own well being and for a responsible act of kindness towards nature as well!

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