Are you sure your green lawn is worth the environmental cost?

The smell of fresh cut grass.

The beauty of a well-manicured courtyard.

We can all admire a green lawn, but at what cost?

A new study from the University of California found that super-manicured lawns do not sequester enough carbon to offset their care. Lawns are cited negatively for ” excess water needs, use of chemical fertilizers, and greenhouse gas emitting mowers.”

Science Daily explains:

Turfgrass lawns help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and store it as organic carbon in soil, making them important “carbon sinks.” However, greenhouse gas emissions from fertilizer production, mowing, leaf blowing and other lawn management practices are four times greater than the amount of carbon stored by ornamental grass in parks, a UC Irvine study shows.

This is the first study to compare carbon sequestration to nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide emissions from lawn grooming practices.

While the study was done in California, the implications for Florida are obvious. As much as 70 percent of residental water use is for outdoor watering or irrigation.

Here are some tips to reduce your impact on the local water supply:

  • Water lawns less frequently but more thoroughly. One way to do this is to use a hose; water can be directed to specific plants, sprinkled on seedlings, or applied deeply to planted trees or shrubs. To conserve water, always use a shut-off nozzle at the end of the hose.
  • Use efficient irrigation systems. If watering your lawn or garden with a hose isn’t practical or to increase efficiency, install an automated sprinkler systems. Simple water computers costing only about $30 can regulate home sprinklers, whereas more complex systems can be professionally installed. Any automatic sprinkler can save water if set correctly.
  • Think it through. When developing landscape designs, keep water conservation in mind.
  • Schedule irrigation wisely. For example, set sprinkler timers to water in the early morning when winds are usually light and the ground is cool and receptive.
  • Group plants according to their water needs. This will help you target the water more efficiently. Also, use native and low-water-use plants.

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