Low Impact Living: Twelve Tips for Eco-Friendly Lawn Care

green grass with a ray of sunshineEditor’s note: While many will argue that there’s no such thing as an “eco-friendly lawn” (with justification), the grass covered yard is still a staple of most homes. Today, our friends at Low Impact Living have some tips for green grass care… This post was originally published on May 7, 2008.

Summer is just around the corner, and this is the time of year when we really ramp up our lawn activities– watering, fertilizing, mowing, etc. And all of these can have major negative environmental consequences. Did you know that over 50 million Americans mow their lawns each weekend, and contribute as much as 5% of the country’s air pollution? And it’s staggering to realize that the average American grassy lawn can use over 20,000 gallons of water each summer! So, a major part of any green home strategy should be to embrace eco-friendly lawn and garden care.

Here are 12 ways you can make sure you have an eco-friendly lawn this summer

1. Collect rain water and use it for your plants. Getting a rain barrel or two for your yard is a simple way to collect and reuse Mother Nature’s water. Just put it under your gutter’s down spout and you’ll be amazed how fast it fills up. Click here for rain barrels.

2. Make sure you’re not over-watering. Most of us over-water our lawns. Do you have moss growing on your driveway or sidewalk or in your garden? That’s a sign you’re watering too much. Do you have pools of standing water anywhere? Another sign. You can buy a very inexpensive lawn moisture meter that will tell you if you’re over-watering. You might also consider getting an intelligent irrigation control system that attunes your watering to the weather and your lawn’s needs.

3. Don’t hose down your sidewalks and driveway. That water is a valuable resource and the water you send into the gutter is carrying oil and a host of chemicals out as run-off that go on to pollute our rivers, lakes and oceans.

4. Get a push mower for your lawn. Traditional gas mowers are horrible for our air quality and contribute to global warming. They are major environmental offenders. A good-ole push mower is the eco-friendly solution. (Or if you can’t go all the way to push style, get a plug-in electric model– better than gas.) Find mowers here.

5. Say no to leaf-blowers! The gas-powered leaf blowers some people use are major carbon emissions culprits. Say yes to a broom! Your waist-line will thank you too.

6. And when you’re done mowing, leave your clippings on your yard. Those grass clippings make great mulch and will help you save water as well.

7. Be sure to compost your other yard waste. If your city doesn’t collect green waste for composting, please get a composter and do it yourself. It’s super easy and the composter will turn your waste into great mulch for use throughout your yard and garden. Find composters here.

8. Embrace native plants. Plants, flowers and grasses that are native to your region are the most atuned to soil, climate and water particularities. They are great water savers and will thrive with less care than tropical and other imported varieties. And they are gorgeous! Learn more about native landscaping here with our book collection. Or contact a green professional landscape designer or maintainance provider from our green services directory. We have eco-minded landscaping experts listed across the United States.

9. Are you addicted to the look of grass but live in a high-drought area? You may want to consider synthetic grass. It uses no water, lasts over ten years, and looks & feels surprisingly real. Learn more about synthetic grass here.

10. Why not start your own organic food garden? Nothing could be better for the planet or your health. Learn how to get started with organic veggies here.

11. Use non-toxic fertilizers and pest-control agents for your garden and lawn. Not only are these better for your plants (particularly any food you might eat), they reduce the amount of toxins that run-off into our waterways. Find safe alternatives here.

12. Use solar or LED lighting in your lawn. Solar lighting is obviously an energy-saver. If you don’t find solar lights bright enough, check out LED lights—they are very bright and use very little power. They will last 5-10 times as long as standard outdoor lights. Find energy-efficient lighting options here.

Read More about Eco-Friendly Lawn Care:

Image credit: kevindooley at Flickr under a Creative Commons license

  1. graceonline

    Excellent suggestions for cutting down on time, money and water spent on lawn care. I especially like tip #6, let your clippings lie. I admit I’m partial to the concept, also known as grasscycling. It’s an excellent way to save fertilizer and watering costs. Plus, studies have shown you can save about a third of the mowing time over the course of a season as well. That’s more time to play lawn badmiton with your family, or spend a lazy hour nibbling a pesticide-free sweet blade and picking out giants and lambs in the clouds overhead.

  2. Skye

    We’re planning to kill all of our grass and replace it with a native/adapted blend that does well here, doesn’t need water, and only has to be mowed twice a year. Yay!

  3. Casey Retrop

    For the large lawn, I would recommend checking out the Recharge Mower. It’s rechargeable mower greatly reduces the damage caused by emissions, which makes it a perfect solution for the eco-aware.

  4. Brandon

    It looks like your link in “11. Use non-toxic fertilizers and pest-control agents for your garden and lawn.” is broken. Do you have an updated source for this information?

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