Healthy Lawn Care

May 14, 2014 at 2:49 pm Leave a comment

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Collectively, Americans spend about $40 billion annually on lawn care including grass seed, sod, and synthetic chemicals.  Much of the money we spend on our lawn cares goes towards products that “help” grass only in the most superficial ways and that actually degrade the soil underneath, pollute our drinking water and lakes through contaminated runoff, and can pose serious health threats to pets and wildlife in the area, including birds.*

However, maintaining a pristine lawn doesn’t have to be harsh on our wallets or on the environment.  There are other options for caring for our yards that can be more cost-effective and help our communities avoid many of the negative environmental impacts of overspreading synthetic chemicals, for example.

Chemical fertilizers typically contain high levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and other elements that can help grow strong grass and grass roots, but too much of a good thing can be bad.  In fact, when we overspread fertilizer on our yards, 40-60% of this fertilizer can ultimately leach away and pollute our ground water and have the potential to eventually reach and pollute our precious lakes.  This spring, consider spreading less fertilizer than in previous years and less than might be recommended by the lawn care product company.  If necessary, add water-insoluble organic fertilizers and do not fertilize your lawn when there is heavy rain in the forecast, in order to prevent extra runoff.

Additionally, leaving grass clippings on your lawn after mowing can add nitrogen back into the ground through the natural breaking-down of the clippings.  Similarly, allowing plants like clover to grow in your yard in addition to grass can help prevent erosion, smother weeds, and clover also naturally fixes nitrogen in the soil, reducing the need for fertilizer application.

Image: http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/gallery/wasteprev/wpclp2.htm

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