The greenest lawn, the green way.

Not long ago I talked about an encounter with a TruGreen (ChemLawn) truck and feeling as though we were going to be asphyxiated as we drove by the chemical spray being applied to a neighborhood lawn.
lawn-water
I simultaneously felt a sense of guilt that I used to have a lawn service and those same chemicals were once sprayed on my yard.  I still gasp at the thought.  Those chemicals are pollutants that contaminate ground and surface water, as well as pose a threat to wildlife and beneficial insects.  Plus they create serious health risks for humans, with children being the most vulnerable.

But those precious little feet can still have a healthy, green lawn. And if you just adopt some simple practices, you can have a nice, clear conscience too:

  • Go easy on the watering – lawns only need an inch of water per week so this means about ONCE a week.  And if mother nature is helping (via rain), even less frequently. Too many shallow waterings also bring roots to the surface and burn out the lawn faster.
  • Don’t “mow low” – the optimal length is 3”, so don’t over-mow or mow too short.  Taller grass grows a deeper root system, grows slower, requires less water and helps prevent weeds.
  • Don’t “ bag it” – mulching mowers actually cut grass and chop it so it can act like mulch to hold moisture, but if you do have a bagging mower, consider composting the clippings.kids-in-grass
  • Consider timing – don’t mow in the heat of the day (grass loses moisture) and water in the early morning or evenings to prevent evaporation.
  • Water wisely – actually water the lawn (not sidewalks and drives!), use timers or pay attention not to overwater and prevent waste.
  • If you must control a few weeds – use white vinegar in a spray bottle and spot treat.
  • Go crazy – sell your lawn mower and buy a push mower (although my husband’s not “buying that one” just yet!).
  • Skip the fertilizers – even the organic kind. Honestly, do you really need them?

I think all we really want is a lawn that is healthy and green… a place where our kids can run, play and roll around without worry, and a sense that we aren’t doing more harm than good “in pursuit of the most pristine lawn on the block”.  I assure you, your kids don’t care about that, but the environment surely does.

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6 thoughts on “The greenest lawn, the green way.

  1. My Lowe’s-working little brother, managed to sell a gas-powered push mower (giving him a nice commission at work) AND bought the customer’s *brand new, unused* reel mower for $10!
    We’ve been looking into reel mowers for awhile now, and the almost free price tag was perfect.
    We don’t water our lawn, and because of his dog, we don’t use chemicals for weeds.
    It’s not the “greenest” yard on the block, but it’s definitely the best for my conscious.

  2. My Lowe’s-working little brother, managed to sell a gas-powered push mower (giving him a nice commission at work) AND bought the customer’s *brand new, unused* reel mower for $10!
    We’ve been looking into reel mowers for awhile now, and the almost free price tag was perfect.
    We don’t water our lawn, and because of his dog, we don’t use chemicals for weeds.
    It’s not the “greenest” yard on the block, but it’s definitely the best for my conscious.
    Sorry, forgot to add great post! Can’t wait to see your next post!

  3. Robert – $10!?! Now that’s a deal! 🙂 We are also situated between two of the most pristine yards in our neighborhood and, although I doubt they appreciate our “environmental consciousness”, I can certainly feel comfortable that what we “aren’t” doing is the best and safest for us too!

  4. I had a reel mower for a while, but it really was a pain. I think a lot of this is the difficulty of buying a quality one. The ones in the big hardware stores are cheap and you get what you pay for (I think there are some available online that are better). The handle of mine fell apart and I bought an electric mower instead. I’ve been quite happy with it. I sill think they make them too cheap, but it’s better than the reel mower was. I’m still using energy, but at least the power plant that makes my electricity has pollution controls, gas mowers have none.

  5. Gus – if an electric mower works for you, great! I can imagine I would chop my cord in half in no time flat!

  6. My lawn is riddled with sand burs and weeds, but I remember my Dad’s lawn was plus, soft and green….and all he did was water it as needed, and kept it mowed once a week like clockwork. I have always dreamed of having a lawn like that. We had for about a year a nice little low energy electric mower that worked great…especially after a new blade….as of a week ago it died…electric motor went bad. I finally today, I repaired my old gas mower that we had rotting for the past 2 years. It of course decided to stark leaking oil….so it is now officially retired (I will keep it for when the yard gets over-grown). So I decided to spend money I didn’t want to and went to Home Depot and bought a nice 14″ reel mower. It can’t handle large grass, but it finishes nicely. My only complain is it can’t cut very high. I am happy about not having to buy gas and oil and deal with smelly exhaust. I hope that by the end of the summer I will see some nice results, and have my weeds and sand burs gone. I am applying your suggestions and hoping for the best….wish me luck….and here’s to a nice healthy chemical free lawn!

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