Spring is the air and it’s about now you start thinking of your garden, and especially the lawn.
Getting the mower ready, choosing the right fertilize, raking up those dead leaves you missed in the fall, aerating, checking the hoses for leaks and more. It’s hard work getting that perfect lawn. But what you might not know is that perfect lawn is also hard on the environment.
In the summer months between half and three quarters of all the municipally treated water is used on lawns. All that fresh water just to keep a patch of grass green.
Those pesticides and herbicides used can be harmful to fish and insects when they leach into the soil, plants or water-course.
The ecosystem of an area of grass offers little in the way of diversity, and a good diversity is needed for wildlife, insects and pollinators to offer them homes and food.
As for the lawn’s carbon footprint, in of itself it’s quite good. It actually absorbs more carbon than it emits as carbon dioxide. However, once you take into account the footprints of the fertilizer production, fresh water production, and the constant maintenance of mowing the overall carbon footprint of lawns is pretty poor.
Just looking at the mover is scary. According the government of Canada, an older mower running for an hour can produce as much air pollution as a new car driving 550 kilometres. With over six million lawns in Canada that’s a lot of greenhouse gases being added over one summer.
So, what can we do?
One of the best things is to replace that lawn, or at least part of it, be it the back yard or the front yard, with a vegetable garden. The advantages to the environment are many. You will be cutting down the carbon footprint. On average produce travels around 2,500 km to get to you, emitting high levels of greenhouse gases along the way.
You can choose what fertilizers/pesticides you put on your garden so no more horrible chemicals polluting the soil and water. Also, if you have kids, what you might lose in play area you gain as a great educational tool especially as homeschooling is becoming more popular. And, you get cheap food.
Another great option is turning your garden into a mini wildflower meadow. While they don’t have quite the impact as the veggie garden, they do have their own advantages. They offer great diversity in the ecosystem with pollinators like bees loving them. They attract insect life, which in turn bring a wide variety of birds.
They are beautiful to look at and can produce colour through a lot of the year. Once established they are very low maintenance and only need to be mowed once or twice a year.
Now is the perfect time to ditch that boring old lawn and start planning your new adventure in your own back yard. Believe me, it will be well worth it.