Your Lawn’s Environmental Impact

It’s confusing, when something that is green all over may not really be  “good green”.green green grass

When I look outside at my lawn, I automatically equate it with being eco-friendly and helping sustain the environment.

The more green I see, the better off the world is right?

As we now know, this may be a myth depending on how you take care of your lawn or how your local government takes care of the park or school grounds.

Lawn’s are for starters not the best use of space if you are looking to reduce you carbon footprint. They don’t absorb as much CO2 nor produce as much oxygen as other plants or trees. (Planting Trees to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint).

Read: Green Gifts For The Green Handyman

A recent study at the University of California Irvine evaluated whether city parks were carbon absorbers (sinks) or carbon producers. The study found that parks were generally carbon neutral because of the resources to maintain them offsets the natural gains from the trees and shrubs. It concluded that fertilizers, maintenance equipment (especially blowers) and water used in maintaining the parks were the major negative offsets to the positive impact of the plants.

If you are wondering if lawns are good or bad for the environment?

Most are NOT.

Consider these tips to help reduce the carbon footprint of your lawn.

Avoid Using Gas Mowers   Use a push mower wherever possible.  The huge carbon footprint spewed out by these polluters makes it difficult to offset the negative impact during the course of the year through your plants.  Do not bag, let the cut grass feed future growth.

Fertilizer Selection  The best fertilizer you can use is to leave the clippings on the grass after cutting.  This serves as a natural fertilizer and it’s free and a simple way of recycling; your grass is recycled as fertilizer to promote the growth of more grass! However if you want to fertilize your lawn beyond that natural cycle there are some environmentally friendly choices on the market. Bear in mind that some recent studies have concluded that organic fertilizers are sometimes worse for the environment than synthetic.  The manufacturing and transportation of fertilizer is fossil fuel intensive and some estimate that using fertilizer on your lawn has a carbon footprint equivalent of burning 80 gallons of fuel every year.

Compost  Why not start composting and avoid the whole manufacturing and transportation impact of fertilizer?  There are a lot of different ways in which you can fertilize your lawn for less money and a smaller carbon footprint, so think twice about applying fertilizers.

Opt For Zoysia Grass  This or other types of slow growing grasses. They need less mowing, which means less effort, but its not green in the colder months.  Even better, they don’t need as much watering, which helps to reduce your carbon footprint.

Smart Timing Of Watering Systems   If you have an automatic system to water your plants, try and do so in the early morning before the heat sets in. This will allow the water time to soak into the ground before the sun starts to evaporate it, and this saves you money, water, and carbon footprint.

Shrink Your Lawn Size   Rather than have a huge lawn that requires mowing and watering, look into planting some trees to take up space. They are better carbon sinks and if you choose properly they require very little maintenance.

So who would have thought that mowing, watering, and fertilizing your little patch of paradise are the three reasons why your green can become neutral or detrimental to the environment.

Be sure to also read these other Green Blizzard articles: Gift Ideas For A Green Handyman, What is Phantom Electricity?, Green Cleaning Products,  Savvy Green

Read: Tools That Every Gardener Needs

With a little more knowledge and smarter gardening practices,  you can be sure that your lawn can help you reduce your carbon footprint!


About the author

John R. Garnet

John's work in the energy market fostered his interest in the environment. He recently completed his graduate work at George Mason University, But more interestingly, John has a passion for food and cooking and to provides some light-hearted tips to make people's lives greener while enjoy the good life with everyday practical tips from brewing tea, growing basil, or drinking raw milk.