Did You Know?

Lawns absorb water, which helps reduce storm runoff and improve water quality. Lawns also have a significant cooling effect, provide oxygen, trap dust and dirt, promote healthful microorganisms, prevent erosion and filter rainwater contaminants. And most importantly, lawns are the foundation for having fun outside.

Believe it or not, lawn care does have a significant impact on the environment. According to the U.S. National Wildlife Federation:

  • 30% of water used on the East Coast goes to watering lawns; 60% on the West Coast.
  • 18% of municipal solid waste is composed of yard waste.
  • The average suburban lawn received 10 times as much chemical pesticide per acre as farmland.
  • Over 70 million tons of fertilizers and pesticides are applied to residential lawns and gardens annually.
  • Per hour of operation, a gas lawn mower emits 10-12 times as much hydrocarbon as a typical vehicle. A weed-eater emits 21 times more and a leaf blower 34 times more.
  • Where pesticides are used, 60 – 90% of earthworms are killed. Earthworms are important for soil health.

The bulk of environmental cost associated with lawn care can be avoided by practicing healthy lawn basics.

The best way to reduce your lawn’s chemical dependence is maintain a naturally healthy lawn with proper lawn care techniques. Healthy lawns are naturally resistant to weeds, diseases, and insects. If your lawn needs to be fertilized more than once a year, check these tips out to save the environment while also saving your bank.

Improve the Soil

healthy-soil
Photo: Flickr / NRCS Soil Health

Most lawn care professionals recommend a soil test once every three years. A soil test will indicate nutrient levels and pH balance of your lawn. It should read between 6.5 and 7.0, making the optimal lawn soil slightly acidic.

Soil compaction is another concern that affects how effectively your lawn absorbs air, water, and nutrients. The best way to alleviate the soil compaction is by aerating your lawn, a process which involves perforating the soil with small holes by removing plugs of soil from the lawn.

Topdressing the lawn after aerating adds additional health benefits. The fresh, nutrient rich soil is blended with the existing soil more effectively this way.

Choose a Locally Adapted Grass

Not all grass are created equal. There are plenty of differentiating characteristics such as drought tolerance, heat tolerance, cold tolerance, shade tolerance, texture, recommended mowing heights, etc. Ask your local lawn care provider which grass they recommend or check out our blog post about grass types in Atlanta, GA.

Mow Often, but Not Too Short

Have you ever cut your lawn shorter than usual to lengthen times in between mows? If I yes I assume that you also found a brown, wilted tips in your lawn shortly after. I assume you’re also the type that doesn’t sharpen their mower blades, too because this is lawn mowing 101. When you remove more than a third of the grass blade at a time it is actually damaging your lawn’s health.

Most grass types are healthiest when mowed between 2.5 and 3.5 inches tall.

Mow the lawn slightly shorter (about 2 inches) when anticipating the first hard frost of the season. This will minimize the risk of fungus during the winter.

Water Deeply but Not Too Often

watering-the-lawn
Photo: Flickr / Robert Couse-Baker

Deep, thorough watering once per week is leaps and bounds better for your lawn than lightly watering every day of the week. The former encourages your lawn to develop a deeper root system resulting in a hardier, more drought-resistant lawn. Most healthy lawns only require about an inch of water per week.

A good way to indicate when your lawn’s had its full is by placing an empty tuna can (about an inch tall) in your lawn while you water. Once the can is filled up you’ll successfully know that your lawn has gotten its recommended inch of water per week. For better results, time the watering with the tuna can in the lawn and then set your irrigation system up for that same time interval once a week.

 

Have questions about lawn care? Visit our Atlanta lawn care page or share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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