We all admire the perfectly manicured lawns, which seem to be visions of a perfect suburban life of success. The well-mowed grass, ideal height, and the symmetrical balance it creates to homes seem to draw us in.
But do we think about the impact of grass lawns on the environment? Do we know that the gases emitted in the various stages of care lead to climate change? Well, this article explains the environmental impact of lawns.
Grass lawns are bad for the environment since they consume close to 3 trillion gallons of water in a year. Secondly, they also consume a lot of pesticides. Thus, lawns are an ecological disaster since they emit greenhouse gases into the environment.
Thirdly grass lawns are not sustainable to the environment since they can lead to depletion of underground water reserves. On the other hand, grass lawns help the environment by reducing the level of soil erosion and absorbing the noise from the environment.
If you are still wondering how do lawns affect the environment? Well, your perfectly manicured lawn has diverse effects on the environment. To maintain your green property, you need water, especially in summer.
Even though the water seems minimal and not much like that in agricultural use, it depletes urban water reserves. It adds up to climate change which causes droughts in many parts of the world. Drought, as we are all aware, causes deaths, migration, and human suffering.
Lawns also have a diverse impact on the ecosystem. If you have a lush green lawn, you create a monoculture that does not represent a biodiverse ecosystem. Grass does not attract a variety of insect species. Some pollinators such as bees are essential for flower beds to blossom, fruits, and other farms within your locality. If there is a shortage of pollinators, most fruits will not blossom.
It will, in turn, affect the insect whose habitat is the plants.
So, birds will starve since their source of food is interfered with. You now understand why lawns are an ecological disaster.
How does the lawn affect the environment?
- Aside from being an environmental disaster, lawns emit carbon into the atmosphere. Lawnmowers that can be operated while seated emit carbon. Even if you refill your lawnmower, it still leads to high costs of fuel.
- Lawns produce larger quantities of carbon than that found in grass. It emits greenhouse gases due to lawn care such as pesticide use, fertilizer, mowing, and leaf blowing. In short, lawns produce a lot of carbon gas than they can absorb. Not to mention the noise pollution when mowing lawns.
- On the other hand, lawns without any trees lead to higher temperatures in that locality. Most homes will need air-conditioning to be calmer, which leads to higher carbon consumption. If a lawn has more trees, the cost of air-conditioning will be lower since the place is tree-draped and cooler.
- Synthetic Nitrogen fertilizers damage the soil by depleting it with Nitrogen. Most synthetic fertilizers used in lawns cause the earth to lose organic Nitrogen and carbon, which results in soil erosion.
- Runoff from fertilizers reaches our wells, rivers, and other water bodies. Polluted water sources lead to cancer, nervous system impairments, blue baby syndrome, and Congenital disabilities.
- Also, keeping the lawns green and up to the suburban standard needs inputs. One is the use of chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers. One of the dangers of lawn chemicals is that fertilizers are manufactured using ammonia extracted from natural gas through fracking. Lawns, therefore, cause environmental damage such as water pollution due to fracking.
- In addition, fertilizers contribute to climate change. Studies show that Nitrogen that plants do not consume is converted into nitrous oxide by soil microbes. Nitrous gas is a greenhouse gas that is more dangerous than carbon iv oxide,
- Another danger of lawn chemicals is that they come back to our homes, damaging our children and pets. Toddlers are prone to vulnerable toxins since they are still developing. Research also shows that children from households that treat their lawns with pesticides are more predisposed to developing Leukemia.
Why is grass important to the environment? Are lawns really bad?
With all the above adverse effects of lawns on the environment, can we conclude that we should ban lawns? Of course not. The grass is vital to the environment in the following ways.
- It cleans the air and traps carbon iv oxide gas. Grass removes carbon iv oxide from the atmosphere and traps dust from escaping to the lungs and air. With grass around homes, we have cleaner houses, cars, and windows.
- It covers the topsoil from clogging, deep erosion and allows the water to get absorbed back into the underground water system.
- Lawns reduce noise pollution since they act as insulation by absorbing noises from animals, trucks, cars, and people.
- It improves the soil structure by keeping the soil open and loose with pores for easy water penetration.
- Lawns create a more relaxed environment since they keep your home cooler compared to urban areas surrounded by concrete and lots of buildings that are warmer. You save on your cooling system bill.
Even with the adverse effects of lawns on the environment, such as emission of greenhouse gases, using a lot of fertilizer, and destroying the ecosystem, Anti-lawn movement has not taken root. While research provides the various environmental benefits of lawn replacements, more groups prefer mowing less frequently to increase the diversity and population of bee species.
Anti-lawn movement practitioners are adopting new species of grass that are environmentally friendly.
While the growth of lawns destroys the environment by ruining the plant and animal habitat, we need to ask ourselves: Are lawns really bad?
Well, lawns can be good if we mitigate their adverse effects on the environment. How about we grow wild varieties of trees and weeds in our yards, mow our lawns less frequently, reduce the watering levels during summer and cultivate our gardens to grow as it adapts to the ecosystem without much of our interference?
Importance of lawns
Once we adopt better lawn practices, thenwe can benefitby:
- Creating a cooling effect, especially during summer.
- Providing a habitat for wildlife.
- They have esthetic value.
- Lawns also reduce noise pollution levels and control the impact of water and wind erosion.
Frequently Asked Questions.-Grass Lawn Environmental Impact
Is mowing the lawn bad for you?
Yes. Especially if you mow for long hours. You get exposed to sunburn and inevitable heat which damages you skin.
Again, there are different kinds of poly-cyclic aromatic hydrocarbons(PAHs) which you inhale while mowing. That’s not the only danger, you also breath nitrogen oxides, smoke particles, methane and carbon monoxide.
Is Moss lawn good?
Yes, moss lawn is a perfect alternative to high cost grass. Moss provides a good springy groundcover on which you can walk on moderately.
Another great thing with moss lawns is that you don’t have to toil mowing. You do less and enjoy the deep color, great texture and the harmonious feel it brings to your home.
Why is grass not sustainable?
Cultivating grass comes with a lot of environmental and ecological consequences. Some of the unsustainable risks include the eventual depletion of underground water reserves and negative effects on the ecosystems.
Not to mention how lawns contribute to high levels of greenhouse gases. In the long run, grass becomes very harmful to the environment.
The impact of grass lawns on the environment has been a subject of study over the years. While the negative impact, especially the emission of greenhouse gases, seems severe, homeowners are adapting to better practices to reduce the impact of lawns on the environment.
Some of those measures include adding weeds and trees to the garden and planting new grass species. Lawn owners have also reduced water usage and chemical use. In turn, this has helped reduce the impact of harmful toxins on underground water reservoirs.