When you drive through neighborhoods today, you see perfectly manicured lawns with grass as green and lush as a springtime meadow. You think to yourself, “What a beautiful lawn—that must have taken quite a bit of maintenance,” and you would be right—it does. You wouldn’t, however, be thinking to yourself about the environmental impact a lawn like that would create —why would you be? The lawn is all natural, and so is therefore helping the environment, right?
The Hidden Environmental Impact of Natural Lawns
Wrong. In order to maintain a beautiful lawn, you need fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals harmful to both the environment and yourself. You need water, and a lot of it. Most harmful of all, however, is the lawnmower used in cutting that lush, green grass to keep it from turning into an uneven, multicolored sea in your front yard.
he gas-powered lawnmower emits the same amount of pollution in one hour as a car driven for up to 100 miles, according to a Swedish study conducted in 2001. According to a U.S. government body, the Environmental Protection Agency , 54 million Americans alone mow their lawns each weekend, contributing as much as 5 percent of the nation’s air pollution. And it doesn’t stop there. It is estimated that over 17 million gallons of gasoline are spilled each year while refueling lawn equipment, contaminating both water sources and the air. Lawn mowers also release high levels of CO2, volatile organic compounds, and nitrogen oxides.
Now What Do You Do?
So how do you maintain your lawn if you can’t use that trusty mower you’ve had since the early 80′s? You could get yourself an imported mower from places such as the United States, Europe, or Canada, who all have set emissions standards. However, their standards still don’t alleviate the oil-spilling problem. You could get yourself an electrical mower, if you want to spend anywhere from $700-$2,000. You can only use electrical mowers on small lawns, however, because they need to be plugged into an outlet at all times, and, depending on your electrical company, can be just as damaging as fuel-powered mowers.
The Friendly Alternative
So what is the most environmentally friendly way to maintain a beautiful lawn? Synthetic grass. For those of you opposed to artificial grass, keep in mind the environmental—as well as aesthetic—appeal of having a synthetic lawn. On average, a natural lawn needs about 25 millimeters of water a week. Annually, Australia gets about 472 millimetres of rain a year. In only 18 days, a natural lawn uses just as much water as the entire country receives on average in any given year. Synthetic grass, however, uses no water for sustenance. On top of that, it drains what water does hit it back into the soil beneath it. Turf also requires minimum maintenance, which means—you guessed it!—no mowing. You would no longer have to worry about finding an eco-friendly alternative to that old mower you’ve had for years, or about your front yard turning into a sea of green and brown. Most of all, you would no longer have to worry about spilling oil when refueling your mower. With a synthetic lawn, you could say goodbye to your old oil-spilling, CO2 and nitrogen oxide emitting mower, and hello to a cleaner, more beautiful atmosphere.