Eco Ways to Care for your Lawn
Lawn care is an important part of ensuring that you have an attractive green lawn covered in soft, even grass rather than an ugly, patchy wasteland in your yard. That takes effort and a range of tools and fertilizers, but many popular lawn care aids have a hidden environmental impact. Lawns are increasingly being seen as an environmental hazard in their own right, and it is important to do everything you can to try to mitigate that impact as far as possible.
So how do you look after your lawn and keep it looking smart and nice without too much of an environmental impact? Here at Best of Machinery, we’re here to help, and we’ve put together a guide to eco-friendly lawn care to help you understand your options. Below, you will find an introductory guide on how to care for your lawn in an environmentally friendly way, giving you all the information you will need to get started on looking after your lawn and looking after the planet at the same time.
Why are Regular Lawns a Problem?
You might have heard calls to get rid of lawns altogether. That is mostly a problem in places like California, where large lawns are consuming all of the water in the area, leaving the rest of the region dry and desperately short of water. But if you don’t live somewhere with water shortages, why might lawns be a problem?
Well, there are several problems with lawns. The big one is the lack of biodiversity. A lawn is a large area of grass, usually with only one type growing on the entire lawn. Sure, there are bugs that live in it and live under it, but a wildflower area has a much more impressive biodiversity. Most lawns are actually effectively deserts, as they have so few different species of plants and animals living there. The good news is that this is possible to fix, and we will cover how you can do that below.
Lawns also take a lot of energy, water, fertilizers, and time. That means that they create water shortages, cost a lot of energy, and add all sorts of unpleasant chemicals to the ecosystem from the fertilizers. Weedkillers only make that problem worse, and the chemicals from both fertilizers and weedkillers can cause devastation in bodies of water when they get washed away in the rain.
On top of that, the fumes and emissions of lawn mowers make a huge contribution to pollution and climate change, with a single lawn mower producing 10 times as much pollution as a car! Electric mowers are better than petrol mowers, but they are still an environmental issue worth being aware of.
The gas engines of most lawn mowers are environmentally devastating, with carbon emissions over 10 times as great as those of regular cars. That is a major problem and one that it is important to do something about for the sake of the world. Electric mowers are not such a major problem, but they are hardly emission-free. The amount of energy required to run an electric mower for any length of time is significant, and that has significant environmental and financial costs.
Fortunately, there’s a simple solution to all of these problems. Push mowers are a great option for most users, and there are many reasons why you might want to use one if you are looking for more eco-friendly lawn care options.
Push mowers have no motorized components and are instead driven entirely by being manually pushed by the strength of your arms. That means that they are not ideal for anyone with low arm strength or a particularly large lawn, but they are a great option for most users. They also have no need for messing around with power cables, extension leads, limited operational ranges, gas refills, or engine maintenance, making the experience of using and maintaining a push mower remarkably easy and straightforward.
As an added bonus, these lawn mowers are much lower cost than powered lawnmowers, often coming in at $50 or less for a basic model. The big thing about them, though, is that they are zero-emission. That is because there is no motor to require power or fuel, and therefore no waste products produced during use!
Most fertilizers are incredibly rich in various chemicals that boost the growth of your grass. That is good, right? No. No, it’s not. Unfortunately, a lot of those chemicals get washed away into local bodies of water, where they cause algal booms. That means that all the algae in your pond suddenly gets way more food than it knows what to do with, and it grows incredibly fast. In turn, that sucks away all the nutrients from everything else in the pond, and everything that is not algae dies. This is a major problem in bodies of water of all sizes, particularly near to industrial farms.
The good news is that there are a few great alternatives to commercial fertilizer that you can use to boost the growth of your lawn without any major environmental impact, keeping your lawn bright, healthy, and eco-friendly. The important chemical we are dealing with here is nitrogen. High nitrogen fertilizers are a major problem in the world today, but there are certain plants that are actually capable of bringing nitrogen to your grass straight from the air.
If you sow micro clover on your lawn as well as grass, then there won’t be any visible change to your grass, but it will have a similar nitrogen enriching effect to fertilizers, without any of the environmental impact problems. Micro clover and other plants from the legume family have the ability to take nitrogen from the air and deliver it straight down to the roots of your grasses, and this can have a great effect on the health and growth of your grass.
Lawns need water. There is no arguing with that fact. They get a fair bit of water from rain, but not enough to keep them looking great all year round. Most lawn owners like to water them regularly, but that is a problem. According to data provided by NASA, lawns account for more water use than any individual crop in the USA. Lawns even cover around three times as much land as corn does!
Watering all of that grass costs a huge amount of water, and is causing an alarming impact on areas that are already short of water, such as California. It is a major problem and one that is only getting worse as the effects of climate change become more apparent.
Fortunately, waterfalls out of the sky fairly often, and quite a lot of it lands on your roof. If you set up a rainwater barrel underneath your gutter downspouts, then you can catch a great deal of water for use later, when things are dry. You can make a simple system with ordinary food-grade plastic barrels (to ensure no chemicals get into the soil and damage your lawn and the other life in the area) or buy a more complex system.
Once you’ve got that water collected, you can either rig up your rain barrels to an electric pump and an irrigation system, or just pour it into a watering can and water your lawn by hand sometimes!
You’ve probably heard of DDT, the most common and effective insecticide chemical commercially available. It works great at killing insects, but it is also bad for the health of other animals that come into contact with it. That ranges from birds and good bugs to dogs and children, and it’s best to keep all of those safe from unintended pesticide damage!
Biopesticides are an increasingly popular way of controlling unwanted insects on your lawn. These are made from naturally occurring chemicals that control the spread of an insect population rather than wiping it out. Biopesticides come in many different types, and they work in different ways.
One of the most popular types of biopesticide is the pheromone pesticide, which disrupts the mating patterns of certain specific types of insects, stopping them from breeding. This type of biopesticide only affects the specifically targeted insects named on the label, making them safe for beneficial insects and other animals.
The other major type of biopesticide is the microbial pesticide, which uses microorganisms to kill targeted insects. These generally use bacteria or fungi, which are consumed by the insects you are trying to get rid of, and then kill them from inside. All of these different types of biopesticides are entirely safe and harmless and can have great effects on specific pests without any environmental impact, getting rid of pests in an eco-friendly way.
These are only a few eco-friendly lawn care options, and there are many other tips you can follow for effective results. Reducing the environmental impact of your lawn is vital, and it doesn’t have to be a difficult process at all. With a little care and some ethical purchasing, you can keep your lawn looking healthy, vibrant and beautiful without the ecological damage caused by most lawn products.
Eco-friendly lawn care is an important thing to bear in mind. If you are looking at buying a new product to help with your lawn, you should always consider its potential environmental impact and research it first before you buy. The tips we’ve offered above are a great starting point that can make a big difference to your environmental impact but don’t feel you have to stop there. There is always more you can do to help the planet, and lawn care is a great place to start trying to make as many small changes to your habits as you can.