lawns are bad
Many wildlife species need large patches in order to survive. Remove turfgrass from areas between the sidewalk and the curb -- those areas are almost impossible to maintain sustainably. This can translate into a huge quantity of chemicals that are dumped on lawns; for example, in 1996, the U.S. consumed over 2,650,000 tons of fertilizer on non-agricultural land. Pesticides do not target only the pest species in most cases, and other non-target critters are killed that provide an ecosystem service for us (e.g., bees and pollination services). And lawn maintenance releases greenhouse gases, such as with the fuel needed for lawnmowers. Get rid of the power lawn mower and replace with a. Compost all yard waste and prevent the extra "energy cost" it takes to remove and dispose of yard waste. I do think we have too much lawn and we need to reduce lawn cover in urban areas. Since Lancelot "Capability" Brown introduced manicured lawns in England, this concept has spread around the world, and we spend an awful lot of time and money on lawn care. Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. “Steinberg makes a convincing case that ‘turf hysteria” and the “giant chemical orgy’ of modern lawn care have led to water pollution and the shunning of native plants,” one review of his book says. In North America, lawns have passed croplands as the primary managed land cover and are reported to occupy over 128,000 square km -- larger than the states of Nevada and Massachusetts combined. Ecosystems far away from urban areas are impacted. In terms of carbon, if one uses high fertilization and irrigation rates, turfgrass actually emits more carbon dioxide than it sequesters. She also said that lawns “are a symbol of man’s control of, or superiority, over his environment.”. Okay, I preface this posting with the acknowledgment that as an urban ecologist, who is concerned about biodiversity conservation, I regard lawns as bad because they are like concrete to most species and have very little benefit for wildlife. I do think we have too much lawn and we need to reduce lawn cover in urban areas. When using fertilizer, use less of it (the grass does not need to be blue-green!) In certain situations, turf can also stabilize the soil and decrease ambient temperatures (i.e., asphalt is hotter than grass). EnvironmentMediaAmerican historyClimate ChangeGeorge WashingtongolflawnsSlaveryTheodore RooseveltThomas JeffersonUSDA. On the balance of things though, I think lots of opportunities exist to reduce the amount of lawns in urban areas and change the way we maintain these landscapes. For example, there is a hypoxic zone (hypoxia means little oxygen) that forms every summer in the Gulf of Mexico. However, the trend moved towards closely cropped … Today is National Voter Registration Day! If you have a lawn maintenance company, ask questions and request a greener alternative over conventional lawn maintenance. But where do lawns stand in the ranking of environmental impact? Part of HuffPost Environment. Lawns are contributing to pollution and climate change, asserts narrator David Botti, and their origins are far from woke, in a seven-minute video on the history of American lawns. These toxins can end up in our waterways and in our food. To drive home the point, he inserts vintage footage of two women being interviewed in their yards talking about how they moved to their communities to live exclusively near other white people. A local example of using natives, reducing turfgrass, and changing fertilization and irrigation practices can help others see that there is another way. Study on the Effects of Turf Fertilizer “Col. All rights reserved. The article and video make it clear how lawns — and the Times’ reporting — have changed over the course of history. Lawns are indicative of success; they are a physical manifestation of the American Dream of home ownership. If you see it running down the curb, something needs to be done! Avoid the practice of removing every "weed" in a lawn. The article also includes the Times’ vintage reporting on President Theodore Roosevelt mowing his lawn in 1914. Although many factors are involved, monoculture lawns are a primary culprit as they offer very little habitat for most species. For three hours he pushed a lawnmower out on the lawns at Sagamore Hill. If you use water-soluble fertilizer, make sure it is applied only when no rain is in the forecast as it will just run off your property in a rain storm. Botti says lawns are part of the “colonizing of America,” which transformed the landscape from “pristine wilderness” to “identical rows of manicured nature.”. Take a less industrial approach and permit a mixture of turfgrass and other plants. Botti says lawns are part of the “colonizing of America,” which transformed the landscape from “pristine wilderness” to “identical rows of manicured nature.”, “These lawns come on the backs of slaves,” he continues, zooming in on a painting of George Washington in a field to highlight men cutting the grass with scythes. Tough question, as lawns, are part of the American psyche and linked to suburbia and household aesthetics. The video explains that the perfect lawn is associated with being a model citizen, how the first sprinkler was invented in 1871, and about the advent of “so-called trade cards” that “advertised the hell out of lawn and garden products.”, The Times also refers to the work of historian Ted Steinberg, who calls lawns the “outdoor expression of ’50s conformism.”. Roosevelt refused to discuss politics today,” the article on the Times front page said and is shown in the video. We made it easy for you to exercise your right to vote! Fertilization of lawns also releases nitrous oxide, another greenhouse gas that affects climate change. Why Our Lawns Are Bad for the Environment and How to Change Them for the Better. Many lawn owners also use harmful pesticides and herbicides on their grass. In terms of water consumption, irrigating lawns (on average) takes about 200 gallons per person per day (and much of this is potable water!). But because everybody cares primarily for their own turf, the cumulative impacts of daily lawn maintenance are not really on the radar for most folks. It is an American tradition to maintain lawns. Professor, Department of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation, University of Florida, Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost's next chapter.
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