Lawns are the manifestation of human environmental hubris, and it’s hurting all of us. Regular readers of Things Are Good know that lawns are bad for a myriad of reasons (see links below for more info), and municipal leaders have caught on to this too. In the warmer, dryer areas of the US they’ve already banned the use of lawns due to water scarcity and some areas provide subsidies for sustainable landscaping to discourage the use of decorative grass. Now the entire state of Nevada is going to ban the use of lawns, good for them!
Even thinking beyond the insane amounts of water that turf requires, yardsâ€”often doused in fertilizers and pesticides designed to keep any and all natural wildlife awayâ€”have also become human monuments against biodiversity. Last month, when I reported on the drastic drop in monarch butterflies and the tribal coalition seeking to protect the animalâ€™s migratory path, both Jane Breckenridge and Chip Taylor (who helped found the Tribal Alliance for Pollinators) cited the explosion of turf lawns as one of the main factors interrupting the natural habitats and resting places. The environmental case for separating lawns from the idealized version of homeownership is strong; the question is whether current regulations have the muscle to do it.
The City of Sacramento, for instance, currently offers a turf conversion rebate that helps residents offset the cost of transitioning their yards from turf to â€œlow-water-use plants.â€ The program is one of many, as western and southwestern municipalities from Austin, Texas, to Mesa, Arizona, have pushed locals to ditch their turf in favor of drought-resistant plants over the past decade. Even the Southern Nevada Water Authority has a similar program in place, in addition to a developer-focused ban passed in 2003 that sought to outlaw planting grass yards in new subdivisions. But as a recent report from The Guardianshowed, homeowners often decline these offers. One percent of metro Phoenix homeowners continue to use flood irrigation practices, dousing their yards in 60,000 acre-feet of water last year. That practice alone accounted for 7.5 percent of the water that the local water utility Salt River Project provided to the entire area. Itâ€™s as much as the entire city of Chandler, Arizona, used in a year.
Pollinators love the spring and they love your lawn….until you cut it. Spring time is when pollinators need a quick get up and go meal, which usually comes from those peppy plants popping through your lawn early in the season. You can help pollinators survive the spring by just being lazy and letting your grass grow. Yes, you can save the world by doing less.
Remember the best strategy for not mowing lawns is not to have one in the first place. Check out these lawn alternatives.
Conservation groups have been promoting the “No-Mow May” approach around the world.
Cormier said spring is a crucial time to help pollinators.
“Flowering plants in the spring, for example, can bloom and provide an early source of nectar for pollinators such as bees, hummingbirds, butterflies and beetles,” she said.
Cormier says allowing wildflowers and grasses to grow during this time will also help prevent pollutants and debris from travelling directly into freshwater ecosystems, and help with soil stabilization.
“We’re not asking for a lot of time. We’re asking for 4 weeks so hopefully maybe just take a break from mowing for a couple weeks, for the entire month just try it out. It’s a small commitment but maybe people will like it and I hope they do,” she said.
Lawns are unnatural and require a lot of maintenance, so why do we have them? As a non-lawn person I just don’t get the appeal of a lawn when there are so many better alternatives which require less work to maintain. It turns out I’m not the only one baffled by the obsession with barely keeping grass alive through. There’s a growing movement in the UK (and elsewhere) to replace labour intensive lawn care with easy to maintain landscaping. Instead of a lawn you can plant clover, switch to xeriscaping, or any of these alternatives.
The no-mow trend is gaining momentum across the gardening community. The wildflower conservation charity Plantlife runs an annual No Mow May challenge, which encourages people to share their experiences of letting the grass and wildflowers grow, or even learning how to plant a wildflower meadow in the process.
Sarah makes an important point: not mowing your lawn this spring may help redefine your relationship with your garden, making it more about relaxation and quiet â€“ and watching bee friendly plants grow. If you do like keeping active in the garden, you can always give yourself a challenge by growing a new plant, starting a vegetable patch, or building a bird box or a home for a hedgehog.
A UN report released today reveals that 1 million species are threatened with extinction thanks to human actions (as in you). The most effective thing we can do is vote out politicians who hate the future, but that takes time and we need to act now. Immediately you can stop buying from water-destroying corporations like Nestle or, if you own a lawn, kill it. This might seem like an odd idea at first; however, once you stop and think about what a lawn is you will find that they are bad for the planet.
Seriously, if you want to stop the mass die off of species and you own land then make that land supportive of local species instead of a monument to human hubris.
A lawn filled with native plants provides habitat for animals, from insects to birds and everything in between. A lawn thatâ€™s used to produce food could feed your family, boost neighborhood-level community, and provide jobs (if you donâ€™t have a green thumb). When you run the numbers, it turns that almost anything is better than a grass lawn â€” except pavement.
My lawnâ€™s days as a grass-based environmental scourge are numbered. I have big plans for my outdoor area: Fruit trees, garden space, native plants. Itâ€™s small enough that this project should be manageable, even for a single parent with two small kids.
Highways are loved in America due to their ability to allow single occupant vehicles to move uninterrupted, thus they crisscross the entirety of the United States. This makes for a lot of land covered by asphalt, cars spattering litter, brake dust, exhaust onto the roadside, and large swaths of manicured grass. The highway side grass is expensive to maintain (people need to be paid to cut the grass) and does little to deal with the exhaust blasting out of automobiles. Kansas as a solution to this grassy knoll – better grass. Kernza is being tested on a Kansas highway because it requires barely any landscaping and captures more carbon than regular grass.
The plant was bred at the Kansas-based Land Institute from a type of wheatgrass related to wheat, but unlike more common grains, like corn, wheat, and barley, it grows perennially, rather than having to be plowed and replanted every year. As it grows, its roots stretch as far as 10 feet underground, helping make the plant more resilient, preventing erosion, and capturing more carbon in the soil.
The plant was highlighted in Paul Hawkenâ€™s book Project DrawdownÂ as an effective tool for fighting climate change. Hawken, who has connections to The Ray, helped introduce the organization to the plant. Theyâ€™d previously considered growing other plants, such as bamboo, but realized that the roots of fast-growing bamboo could be destructive to pavement.