Having a lush, green lawn has been a part of the “American Dream” for years. With 80 million home lawns across the U.S., it’s obvious that many people are living that dream. While a beautiful lawn looks nice and might add curb appeal to your home, there’s a greater cost you should be considering – an environmental cost.
Obviously, letting the grass grow naturally isn’t going to cause a problem. But, because people put so much time and care into their lawns, they can have a negative impact on the environment that might make you rethink your landscaping methods.
It’s estimated that a backyard with 500 square feet of grass needs over 67,000 gallons of water annually to stay healthy. With so many lawns in the country, consider how much wasted water is going into maintenance just to make your grass look greener.
In addition to using too much water, people use pesticides and other chemicals to keep their lawns looking great. Those are fine options to keep up appearances but can cause more damage to the environment. Even keeping your lawned neat and trimmed with a traditional gas mower contributes to carbon emissions.
So, what can you do to make your landscaping more sustainable? How can you achieve backyard bliss without using chemicals or water on your grass? Let’s look at a few environmentally effective alternatives.
Lose the Traditional Lawn
Thinking outside the box might just be the best way to make your landscaping more sustainable. Instead of growing traditional grass, consider xeriscaping instead. According to National Geographic, “Xeriscaping is the practice of designing landscapes to reduce or eliminate the need for irrigation.” It’s especially useful in areas that experience frequent droughts, but you can take advantage of it no matter where you live.
Xeriscaping often involves replacing traditional grass with things like native plants, rocks, mulch, and soil. It’s a sustainable agriculture practice, focusing on utilizing renewable resources as much as possible. The idea of sustainable agriculture is typically associated with large farms, but you can scale down some of those practices in your own yard and do your part for the planet. Grow pollinator plants. Avoid pesticides. Ditch monoculture methods in favor of something more unique.
Another alternative to traditional grass is to turn your yard into an extensive garden space. The best part? You don’t need a green thumb to get started.
Grow a Garden Instead
If you want to turn your yard into a garden, get ready to reap the rewards. Gardening can be hard work, but some of the biggest benefits include:
- It can boost your mood
- Exposure to Vitamin D
- It’s great for your physical health
- It builds strength
- It’s a natural way to improve your memory
If you’ve never gardened before, it can be helpful to draw out a grid ahead of time and use it as a blueprint, especially if you’re changing a large section of your yard. Then, you can decide on the type of garden you want.
Growing your own fruits and vegetables is a great way to boost your home’s sustainability since you won’t have to rely on big box stores. If everyone started to grow more of their food, it would cut down on supply chain pollution across the country.
You could also decide on a pollinator garden specifically designed to boost the honeybee population. Not only are bees important for the wellbeing of the planet, but you’ll be able to look out to a beautiful, colorful garden each day.
Whatever you decide when it comes to a garden, avoid using substances like vermiculite in your soil. It’s a naturally occurring mineral, so you might think it’s safe. But, it was originally mined from the same ore deposits as asbestos. Now, it’s considered a toxic substance that could contribute to respiratory issues or even lung cancer.
Growing a great lawn isn’t worth the environmental cost. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your environmental endeavors, and choose to do something different with your yard. It might end up boosting your home’s appeal more than green grass ever could. Beyond that, however, you can take pride in knowing you’re doing your part for the planet.
Author: Noah Rue