Which is better? A beautiful, green, weed-free, "golf course" sort of lawn or a slightly less green lawn, with a couple of weeds and bald spots?
The answer, of course, depends entirely on your priorities. If keeping up with the Jones is important, then for you, the most perfect lawn on the block is all you will accept. But if you are starting to climb on board with all that's "green" for the environment, taking personal responsibility for keeping our environment safe, then ironically a less than perfect lawn is the right answer.
For unless you have Astro-Turf or spay green paint onto your lawn, a perfect lawn requires a lot of pesticides and fertilizer. Also, a perfect lawn will likely necessitate removal of the cut lawn rather than keeping it in place to de-compose, and naturally support a continued healthy lawn environment.
The biggest environmental problem with fertilizers and pesticides is that they are likely to be overapplied, and be carried away by rain water into local storm drains, and ultimately into lakes, streams, ponds, and the ocean. From there, they contribute to fish kills and severe water quality degradation.
Removed lawn clippings may end up in the trash, and ultimately take up limited landfill space. Or they will go to a recycling facility, where they will form the smelliest part of a compost process. Grass clippings, plus moisture, plus heat often equal odor (though this can be controlled through management practices). Though, not all is lost if this is the sort of lawn you love. You can buy or build relatively inexpensive home composting bins -- where you can put your grass clippings! For more information on home composting, click here.
Not so green lawns are more likely better lawns for the environment, as they require no, very little, or infrequent fertilizer and weed killer. None is best. Though if just a little is used, it will be less likely to run off the property during a rain event.
The federal government is requiring municipalities to reduce their share of chemical run off. This means green golf course quality lawns may ultimately be legislated into extinction in some places. Why not be ahead of the game?
But if you are selling your home and feel that the perfect lawn is what you need to add "curb appeal," your motiviatino is understandable. Perhaps looks into all natural fertizliers and more environmentally friendly chemicals.
Otherwise, let's let go of this all green lawn mentality. It is really causing harm to our environment.
While I am not suggesting a thoroughly ignored lawn, I am suggesting a lawn that uses few pesticides or fertilizers, one that keeps small lawn clippings on site, one that utilizes aeration techniques to physically enhance the health of the lawn, and one that uses completely natural, less caustic means of fertilization and insect control.
Many lawn care companies offer chemicals that are less caustic, and sometimes completely natural. These companies either specialize in these techniques exclusively, or offer this form of lawn management as an alternative.
So here's to a great summer -- and an adequate, if not so perfect lawn.