There is nothing more satisfying to a homeowner than a well-maintained lawn. Just imagine the aesthetic of freshly cut grass, the beautifully arranged landscape, rounded off with healthy and well-grown plants. You can relax, lounge, play, or even host a cookout in this place.
Lawns add to the attractiveness of your home but aside from its beauty, they also provide beneficial effects to the environment. They control the water flowing around your area, brought about by rain; reduce storm run-off; and improve rainwater quality. The “cooling effect” it provides to soil allows for the growth of good microorganisms that will promote the health of plants. On top of all that, lawns also traps dust and dirt; converts carbon dioxide; and provides oxygen.
Not A Simple Task
However, taking care of your lawn is not a simple task. Its maintenance can be a long and tedious process that may sometimes require the utilization of environmentally-harmful materials. This includes significant wastage of water and the use of tons of chemical pesticides and herbicides. These products directly harm the environment by killing off organisms that help maintain the ecological balance of nature.
Saving the environment while saving your money
In recent years, environmental concerns have gained more visibility and garnered more support. More people are choosing to act on this consciousness by adopting environment-friendly ways to improve and maintain their lawns. Contrary to popular opinion, eco-friendly lawn maintenance practices are just as effective as those that use chemicals. In fact, it usually produces healthier plants and is less expensive. One of the resources most used for this process is water. If you don’t find ways to decrease your water consumption for lawn care, it can become quite costly.
Short term convenience?
The price for chemical pesticides and herbicides can also be outrageous. Yes, it can make your lawn look perfect, but at what cost? Long term, the use of pesticides and herbicides can kill good microorganisms as well as other insects in the area – all of which are beneficial to the health of your soil and your plants.
So is the perfect lawn worth all of that? If your answer is no, what can you do? How can you maintain a beautiful lawn without hurting the environment? Before deciding on anything, you must first find out what your lawn’s maintenance needs are.
Is my lawn healthy?
Before anything, it is necessary for you to know what makes your lawn healthy. Two indicators according to TLawnCare.org are:
- Number of legume plants growing in the area
- Number of earthworms growing on the soil
Nitrogen is essential for the health of soil. Observe the weeds in your lawn. If you see a lot of legumes, that indicates a lack of nitrogen in the soil. Legumes are usually known to get their nitrogen straight from the air.
Earthworms are also attracted to well-aerated, moist, and healthy soil. Dig up some of the soil on your lawn and see if there are lots of earthworms in it. They usually live in the moist part of your lawn. If you find a lot, congratulations. Your lawn has healthy soil.
Eco-friendly ways to maintain lawns
If your lawn is healthy, you may be doing a great job in maintaining it. The question is, are you doing it in a way that helps the environment or hurts is? Is it sustainable? If not, how can you shift to more eco-friendly and sustainable ways? Here are some options:
People often use chemical pesticides and herbicides to maintain the growth and cleanliness of their lawns. According to the environmental protection agency in the US, it affects the growth of animals that get into contact with it. It can even kill an entire population.
Biopesticides contain natural materials that controls insect population instead of completely decimating it. There are three ways that we can control the pests that cause damage to our lawns:
- pheromone pesticides
- microbial pesticides
- integrated pest management
Pheromone pesticides controls the population of targeted insects by disrupting mating patterns. It does not affect other populations of insects.
Microbial pesticides use microorganisms to kill insects. Milky spore is one of the examples of this type of pesticide. Lawn grubs ingest it from the soil, which then kills them from within. This, too, does not affect other animals and insects.
Integrated pest management makes use of other insects and parasites to kill pests. In this set-up, you will have to observe patterns and determine what causes the disruption of plants’ growth system. This is usually backed up by chemical pesticides which are only used to target pests that were not affected by the first set-up.
2. Mulching and composting
In this process, you should collect all biodegradable materials you have and put them together as fertilizers for your plants. Composting, involves the use of organic materials to give out nutrients to plants. You can use grass clippings as compost as well as upcycled kitchen scraps. You can easily do this by having an indoor compost bin in your kitchen.
Mulching requires putting any material at the top layer of the soil to reduce the growth of weeds. In this process, you can mulch while mowing your lawn. This also makes up for 25 percent of the fertilizer that your lawn needs.
3. Rainwater irrigation
In terms of watering your plants, you may devise an irrigation system using rainwater. Use a rain barrel to collect rainwater and reduce tap water consumption as a form of irrigation.
It is also advisable to water your lawn infrequently but deeply, ensuring the water seeps to the bottom roots. Deep watering allows the roots to grow downwards instead of upwards. Water your lawn three times a week instead of every day. Do this early in the morning or late in the afternoon to ensure the moisture absorption by the plants.
4. Eco-friendly mowers
Gas-powered lawn mowers produce at least 10 percent of our air pollutants. It consumes gas reserves that emit unregulated carbon. You may opt to use an electric mower or a battery-operated mower instead. This may be more tiresome, but it’s just better for the environment if you use a manual mower. I would recommend an electric lawn mower by GreenWorks.
5. Natural buffers
You should create a natural buffer between your lawn and any type of irrigation or waterway. If you must put plants near or beside the irrigation system, choose ones that do not need frequent maintenance in terms of fertilizers. Because of the potential to contribute to surface water pollution, try to implement a “no-maintenance zone.” This means you do not mow within the area, nor do you use any pesticide. Most recommend that the zone be at least 10 feet.
Start caring your environment while caring your garden
These are just a few steps you may want to consider. In the beginning, changing our ways may be difficult. But the learning curve is part of adopting any new behavior. Over time, you would end up a healthier garden and more savings – all while saving the environment.