Those blades of grass on your lawn are the colour green but they may not be so environmentally friendly. There are lots of different types of grass on lawns but many are made up of plant species that aren’t native to the area. These non-native grassy lawns often need tons of water, lots of pesticides and fertilizer to keep them looking nice.
A thirsty lawn
One of the most common types of grass used on lawns in North America is called Kentucky bluegrass, a species that needs lots of water to keep it healthy. In 2006 over half of Canadian households watered their lawn and all that H2O can add up quickly. In the United States two thirds of the water used by a city or town went towards lawns!
Gas guzzling grass
Lawn care uses up a lot of gasoline, in the United States 800 million gallons are used every year. In Canada two thirds of households with lawns and gardens own a gasoline-powered lawn mower and these machines can be big polluters. Depending on the age and model a gas-powered lawn mower can emit the same amount of pollution in one hour, as a car driven 20 to 200 miles.
Keeping the pests away
Yearly 700 million dollars worth of pesticides are used on lawns in the United States. Thankfully lots of places are stepping up and banning the use of pesticides if they are being used just to keep things looking pretty. A great example is Ontario, which banned the use of cosmetic pesticides on April 22, 2009.
Grow lawn grow!
Fertilizers that have nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium add nutrients to the lawn and help them grow but they can also pollute. When too much of these fertilizers are used or they aren’t applied the right way they can run off and end up in our water systems. This type of pollution spells big trouble for bodies of water, they can create entire aquatic ecosystems that are unhealthy for most of the species that live there!!
You can help make lawns more environmentally friendly by:
- Trying to plant local species of grasses in your lawn and gardens
- Help keep our air clean by saying no to gasoline, use an electric or push lawnmower
- Collect water in rain barrels to use on your lawn, and leave the tap off
- Don’t water in the middle of the day when it is hottest, lots of that precious H20 will be evaporated and your lawn will be left thirsty