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Your Lawn a Pain in the Grass? Can a Green Yard Be "Green"?

Your Lawn a Pain in the Grass? Can a Green Yard Be "Green"?

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?


Join The Conversation
kia kia 9 years
Also consider grey-water reclaimation.
foxie foxie 9 years
Yeah that's a huge difference from my neighborhood. Lots of families AND small lots. =*(
Geisha-Runner Geisha-Runner 9 years
I can see where you're coming from foxie. Thank God I live on a pretty secluded road where everyone is really close. They are either family or "family." It's a very unique lifestyle. 1pm in the summer you'll hear kids screaming and laughing. 1am during a snow storm you'll hear snowmobiles going up and down the road and tracks in the woods.
foxie foxie 9 years
Um it IS annoying, and I think in that case you probably should care a little more what people think. Maybe in your neighborhood no one cares about the noise, but do you know for sure? It's terribly rude to assume that EVERYONE thinks the sounds of shrieking children are the sounds of "laughter and life." Besides, if it's anything like my area, lots of people are on strange sleeping schedules. I go in to work at 1:00 AM. So yeah... screaming kids? Not so cute.
Geisha-Runner Geisha-Runner 9 years
I don't currently live in a village. But I grew up in one and lawn envy comes with the territory. But as far as I'm concerned, mowing your lawn with a push reel mower and using bath water to water it (if you even water your lawn at all that is) is fine. People care way too much about what other people think. Rock on syako! I love playing outside with the sprinkler with my nieces. I'm yelling and screaming right along with them! It's not annoying ... it fills the neighborhood with laughter and life! :)
Kimpossible Kimpossible 9 years
We completely redid our front yard with xeriscaping when we moved here. The only grass we currently have is a small patch on the side yard, which we will be replacing with artificial grass soon. It just doesn't make sense to have grass and/or plants that require so much water here in the desert, particularly when we've been in a draught for the past 8 years.
mondaymoos mondaymoos 9 years
Personally, I think it's cute when kids are out running and screaming... I think I would like to go outside with a water toy and run and scream, matter of fact...
foxie foxie 9 years
Yes, because, as we all know, there's no happy compromise between the two.
syako syako 9 years
ah yes, kids outside getting actual physical activity as opposed to sitting on their butts in front of tv, so annoying...
foxie foxie 9 years
Forget about LAWN sprinklers- the things that really irk me are those yard-toys for kids that use running water. It's a waste of water AND kids are always outside screaming and yelling... so it's doubly annoying.
verily verily 9 years
Nope, when they are old enough, it will become a dreaded 'chore' and therefore they will complain endlessly about it.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Just a quick comment on the picture. My two kids each have a puch mower and love to help daddy mow the lawn. I only hope that enthusiasm last until they are old enough to actually mow the lawn themselves.
sashak sashak 9 years
I know what you mean, Jen. A huge part of my childhood consisted of rnning around barefoot in the yard. Well, thats BS cause I still do that all the time! It would be nice if we all had more public green spaces...
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
We used to have a push mower and it was great exercise. But, it never cut the grass very well and was really frustrating. Maybe we just had a cheap one. :? I really wish we had a beautiful all green, no weed lawn. But, we just can't bring ourselves to waste all that water. Our compromise is to run the sprinkler for the kids to run around in and just move it to a different part of the lawn every time they play in it. I know it would be better if we went the xeriscaping route and didn't have grass at all. But, I think it would be really sad for the kids to not have any place to play outside. Not to mention bad for them...
colleenb colleenb 9 years
pain the grass!
sashak sashak 9 years
Ok, let me re-phrase that: it ends up backfiring more often than not
sashak sashak 9 years
Xeriscaping is where its at! Knowing your local environment is key. Humans can't control nature, they may try, but it never works out well in the end.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
I like to just leave all the water running in my house when I'm at work. Just because.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
As lovely as a fresh cut lawn looks and smells they are water hogs. Imitation grass has come a long long way. If anyone has not I would highly suggest going to a place that sells and actually look at it in person and feel it. It's amazing, saves you money and environmentally friendly.
syako syako 9 years
I think most cities have laws/ordinances like the one you mentioned in Ohio. I know, for example, in my city if it grows over a certain height the city will come cut it and charge you a ridiculous amount for it and fine you. :?
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I tilled all my grass under and purchased the fake grass (like the brady bunch). It's easy to maintain, and super for the environment... :evil:
stephley stephley 9 years
Xeriscaping can give you a great front yard that's attractive and doesn't require draining a lake to keep it nice. Push mowers are better for your health than power, or you could share a mower with the neighbors - goats are good. Unfortunately, your lawn isn't just your own concern because of the run-off of chemicals and water usage. In terms of asthetics it probably should be just up to you - but most of us don't want to live next door to the people with cars on cinder blocks.
mondaymoos mondaymoos 9 years
I live in the desert and I have cactus-rock-local tree landscaping. It looks nice, doesn't cost anything to maintain and just requires that I pull weeds a few times a year. :D Now, the pool on the other hand....
verily verily 9 years
When I moved into a house from an apt., the first thing I had to consider buying was a lawn mower. I took a few things into careful consideration and ended up purchasing an electric lawn mower. It's friendlier for the environment than gas, and it requires next to no maintenance. The downside to it is that it requires a long extension cord. My sister compared it to a vacuum cleaner. The only problem being that you can't run over it like a vacuum or else you'll be spending another $30-40 on a new cord. You get used to the cord after a while... I considered getting an old school push reel mower, but my yard has a lot of woody weeds (holly seedlings) that a push reel mower would not cut easily. In regards to watering, most grasses do okay without supplemental watering until the major heat of summer hits. To reduce your watering even further, plant grasses native to your area. The local county extension office should be able to tell you what grasses work best.
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