Grass is not native to North America. The use of the term 'lawn" first appeared in 1733. Grass is a monoculture (the cultivation of a single crop), depleting the soil of nutrients, deprived of biodiversity and unable to support itself (and others). And yet, homeowners toil to achieve their well groomed lawns contributing $40+ billion dollars yearly to the lawn care industry. Maintaining these perfect yards require fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, mowing, watering and time.
But what is the real cost?
5% of air pollution comes from gas-powered tools in the US.
Pesticides kill 7 million birds yearly and linked to Honey Bee Colony collapse disorder.
Phosphate fertilizer have been linked to water pollution and algae blooms from runoff.
We use 7.9 billion gallons of water daily to maintain landscapes
There is a higher risk of leukemia in children living in homes that use pesticides
Home improvement stores dedicate 25% of store space to lawn care.
Ground cover, ornamental grasses, and native plants are alternatives to planting grass, requiring less maintenance, fertilizers and water. In addition, they attract song birds, butterflies and other living things. Organic fertilizers and pesticides are effective and non toxic solutions to synthetic chemicals.
It may be time to rethink the word "lawn", creating instead a lawn inspired by nature to attract nature, reducing the environmental impact and the cost to our wallets.
American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn by Ted Steinberg