How Green Is Your Garden?

Posted on February 17, 2012 with No Comments

In North America, the family lawn is seen as something of a privilege and a responsibility. Families in America and Canada obsess about keeping their lawn in pristine shape. While there is nothing wrong with having such pride in your home and its surroundings, there are numerous problems that manifest themselves when you attempt to keep your grass green and spectacular. The most obvious issues relate to your bank account and the environment. An estimated 40 million acres of American land is comprised of turf grass. Americans spend around $40 billion a year on chemicals, seeds and sod. Canadians spend $2 billion a year on these lawn care items.

However, the vast majority of the money spent on purchases of such products only makes a lawn look lush and healthy on the surface. The soil underneath becomes degraded and the chemicals in lawn care products pollute water and endanger animals, especially birds. Both America and Canada are finally waking up to the dangers posed by chemicals and various communities in both countries have banned the use of pesticides. Organic alternatives are being sought and used in their stead. Finally, people are realizing that the perfect lawn should not be kept at the cost of the environment.

Outdated Methods
The biggest problem with lawn care in North America is that people are still using gardening methods that were popular 60 years ago. That was a different era, before we knew the real harm that pesticides caused. At this time, there were also no issues with water conservation so using gallons of water on the lawn seemed normal. The obsession with the ideal lawn really began during the suburban explosion in the 1950s. North American families were on a mission to have a lawn that was free of weeds and other problems. In essence, they wanted a lawn that resembled a putting surface on a golf course. As a result, pesticide use was commonplace.

The Chaotic Result
As well as inheriting such wasteful maintenance practices, we have also been left a legacy of grass that requires huge amounts of water. Kentucky bluegrass is one of the most common types of grass in North America and is notorious for requiring more water than almost any other type of grass. A U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) survey believes that as much as 60% of all water usage in America during the summer relates to lawn maintenance. In total, some 70 million tons of fertilizer and 90 million tons of pesticides find their way onto American lawns each year.

The EPA has released some other shocking statistics relating to lawn care:

  • Mowers in the United States use almost 600 million gallons of gas every year.
  • A regular hand pushed gas-powered motor creates 11 times more pollution than a car while a riding mower causes more than 30 times the pollution created by automobiles.
  • Pesticide poisoning kills approximately 70 million birds in the United States each year.
  • A commercial leaf-blower generates almost 500 times more hydrocarbons than a car.
  • Up to 60% of the nitrogen in fertilizer ends up in ground or surface water supplies.

And the list of horrifying statistics goes on. If creating and maintaining the perfect lawn is one of your hobbies, think about what it is doing to the environment and make a commitment to go green.

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