You might think a lawn a la Mother Nature is more ecologically friendly than a plastic patch of grass. After all, it’s natural and biodegradable — so of course it’s greener (on both sides of the fence). But even that may now be debatable.
Turn the sprinkler on these numbers: the average American lawn takes about 21,600 gallons of H20 to maintain every year. This water drain especially sucks in arid regions (Arizona, New Mexico and Texas) where sod and the necessary water just disappear into the sand beneath.
Another eco-bruise is gas-powered mowers. A 2001 study by Stockholm University revealed that one hour of mowing has the same smog output of driving 93 miles. (!!!) Most lawn mowers don't have a catalytic converter, which would reduce their smog output by 20 percent.
But real lawns aren’t all bad news. According to a 2005 NASA survey, the United States has roughly 40 million acres of manicured lawns, which act as huge carbon sponges soaking up about 13.2 million pounds of carbon dioxide each year. (Though the study’s authors also speculate that figure is negated by the effort to maintain them.)
Think the eco-answer is just not using your lawn mower? Not unless you want to see jail time. In Canton, OH residents might face a fine of up to $250 and up to 30 days in prison if they let their lawns grow eight inches or higher. The reason for the crackdown? The city is trying to create stricter enforcement — with the climbing number of foreclosures, empty lots are decreasing neighboring property values.
Is keeping your lawn they way you'd like (short, long, or fake) none of the neighbor's business? Have you changed your grassy ways?