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Environmentally Friendly Landscaping

If I asked you what you think is one of the most environmentally damaging features of a modern

home, what would say? Would you mention the landscaping around your home? Homeowners

like to think the greenery around their homes is eco-friendly. But just because you have green

grass in your yard does not make the area environmentally friendly.

The lush plants in your lawn may be nice to look at and pleasant to walk on, but keeping the

grass green comes at a huge cost to the atmosphere, soil, groundwater, rivers, streams, lakes and

oceans, wildlife, and human health. Every year in the USA, the apparently harmless landscaping

in millions of properties does unquantifiable damage to nature.

There are more than 80 million lawns in the United States. If you add parks and golf courses, the

quantity of land taken up by lawn grass is approximately 163,800 square kilometers. This is the

combined landmass of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts.

Actually, lawn grass takes up more land than irrigated corn and the impact of this is:

  • Lawns in the USA alone use up more than 90 million pounds of chemical fertilizers every

year. These chemicals somehow find their way to groundwater, rivers, lakes, and oceans

where they pollute the water and kill aquatic life

  • In addition to fertilizers, lawns use 70 million pounds of insecticides and herbicides every

year. These not only kill bugs and weeds, but many of them are carcinogenic and are the

likely cause of some birth defects and liver or kidney damage.

  • Lawns use around nine billion gallons of water a day and three trillion gallons a year.

This is about a third of the entire US public water. Even worse, 50% of that water is lost

to evaporation.

  • Lawn mowers consume 200 million gallons of gas every year and they contribute 5% of

air pollution. Using a lawn mower for an hour creates four times the air pollution caused

by driving a car for the same time.

  • Turf grass offers no habitat for pollinators and insects; instead, it harms natural wildlife

and depletes the population of beneficial insects.

Should you kill your lawn or is there a better alternative?

Does this mean you should kill your lawn and replace it with concrete? No, there are ways to

create landscaping that is beautiful and yet in harmony with the natural environment. As a matter

of fact, as East Bay Management explains, even though you have to do more to create an eco-

friendly landscape, the cost and effort of maintaining that landscaping is lower in the long run.

Following are ideas for making your landscaping more environmentally friendly:

1. Reduce the size of your lawn

A large lawn means you need more water, fertilizer, herbicides, and pesticides. Removing

the lawn altogether may not be practical because you probably need lawn space for play,

relaxation, and entertaining. A better option is to shrink its size by replacing the grass

with other features.

2. Install a smart irrigation system

After reducing the lawn’s size, you can further reduce water wastage and maintenance

costs by adding a drip irrigation system. This delivers water straight to the root of plants.

It will drastically cut down on water usage while improving plant growth.

3. Find plants that are native to your region

Native plants do not require much (or any) fertilizers, pesticides, or watering. They are

adapted to the area’s climate and pests or diseases which are endemic to the region. They

reduce the cost and time required to keep the landscaping in good condition.

4. Implement xeriscaping strategies

Xeriscaping focuses on giving your yard the ability to survive drought. You do this by

selecting drought-resistant plants. One xeriscaping strategy is to group plants with similar

water requirements together to make watering more efficient.

5. Plant ground cover in place of grass

Instead of grass, use ground cover crops; low-growing plants that spread across a wide

area. The advantage of such plants is they keep weeds out, prevent soil erosion, and do

not require mowing. Moreover, many ground cover crops don’t need irrigation.

6. Start composting

Composting lets you recycle grass clippings and other organic waste, instead of dumping

them in the refuse. By composting, you create a reliable source of free fertilizer that is not

harmful to the soil, plant, animals, or humans.

7. Harvest rainwater

Rainwater harvesting is one of the easiest ways to reduce the environmental impact of

your yard. At certain times of the year, it is possible to collect enough rainwater to not

need any water from the public supply. Rainwater harvesting also reduces storm water

runoff, which is the primary agent of water pollution.

8. Add hardscaping features

Hardscaping is the non-living element of your landscape. You can use these to add

dimension to the yard, define different zones within the landscaping and beautify the

entire area. Examples of hardscaping include stone retaining walls, paved walkways, and


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