Lawn care in the U.S. has come at a high cost to 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 receives 10 times as much chemical pesticide per acre as farmland.
- Per hour of operation, a gas lawn mower emits 10–12 time as much hydrocarbon as a typical auto. 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. Here are some things you can do:
- Reduce the size of your lawn. Choose the least functional and/or hardest to mow areas first, and replace with native trees, shrubs, ground covers, or native grasses and wildflowers that are well-adapted to the region. They will require less fertilizer, fewer or no pesticides, less watering and less maintenance overall.
- Invest in an electric, solar, or human–powered push mower.
- “Grasscycle” your lawn clippings by allowing them to fall to the ground when you mow. This is healthier for the lawn, and reduces waste.
- Compost leaves and other yard waste and use it as mulch around shrubs and flower beds. This will help to retain moisture and require less watering.
- Capture rainwater in a rain barrel for reuse.