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Less Lawn, More Life

May 7, 2015 Green Blog No Comments
Toni Bailey

Toni Bailey






By: Tony Bailey

May 7, 2015

If you join the Izaak Walton League’s “Lands Green, Waters Clean” program, one of the things we’ll consider together is reducing the amount of lawn in your yard. Here’s why:

A lawn is a monoculture – one plant (in this case, turf grass) covering a significant amount of space, excluding other plants. This limitation on plant diversity means an ecosystem out of balance, since healthy ecosystems thrive on diversity, and few species of local wildlife can use this grass for food.

In our zeal to have the “perfect” lawn, we often add synthetic pesticides and fertilizers to our grass. The pesticides can have a detrimental effect on human and animal health, and the fertilizers compromise the natural processes in the soil. The roots of turf grass do not go very deep, so soils covered with turf grass generally do not absorb water efficiently. This means that when it rains, much of that water is lost as runoff – not a good thing for the Muddy Branch, because the runoff washes those fertilizers and pesticides into the Muddy Branch. Speaking of water, lawns need a lot of it in hot summer months to stay green, leading to higher water bills. And of course, that well-fed lawn is growing, and if it’s going to keep looking perfect, then it has to be mowed. Even if you don’t mind the chore, the mowers are contributing to air and noise pollution.

Note that earlier I said that we would reduce – not eliminate – areas of lawn. Grass can also serve a useful purpose as a nice, walkable surface in a yard. Areas of green lawn can also offer a calming counterpoint to more varied plantings. So we’ll aim to preserve the amount of lawn that you need and convert the rest to rain gardens, conservation landscaping, and canopy trees.[1] With less lawn, you’ll have more life: more wildlife – especially birds, butterflies, and fireflies – to keep you company.

If you live in the Muddy Branch watershed, visit the “Lands Green, Waters Clean” website and request a site visit to get the turf ball rolling. Even if you don’t live near the Muddy Branch, our Web site has plenty of resources to help you turn your yard into a wonderland for birds and butterflies.

[1] I’ll describe those strategies more specifically in upcoming posts, so please check in each week for updates.

[1] I’ll describe those strategies more specifically in upcoming posts, so please check in each week for updates.

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