If you’re one of those homeowners who prides themselves on a lush, healthy lawn, then here are a few tips for how you can help keep the planet lush and healthy, too.
Photo: Lori Greig
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Let’s think for a minute about the rain that falls on your yard. You know that the water that soaks into your yard helps your grass grow and thrive. That’s great — but the water that runs off the lawn ends up in the local creek. So how you take care of your yard can make a difference for how clean your nearest creek is, and how healthy the water is for people and animal who depend on it.
Here are a few tips for how green thumbs like you can do their part for a healthy environment.
Tip #1) Set the Mower Blade to 3 Inches or Higher
From the perspective of our planet, three inches is an “optimal” height for grass. Grass this high retains water better shorter grass. It’s more resistant to disease and leaves less room for weeds. When you mow your grass to three inches, you’ll have to water it less often won’t have to use herbicides and fungicides that wash into the creek.
You can still mow every week to keep that neat, well groomed look. Just set the blades a little higher and you’ll feel great about doing your part.
Tip #2) Leave Grass Clippings on the Lawn
Chemical fertilizers can help grass on your yard grow, but when they wash into the local creek, they have the opposite effect. Fertilizer in the water helps the algae grow, and this chokes out the grass. So what’s a lawn enthusiast to do? It’s simple — when you mow the grass, leave the clippings on the lawn. They are excellent fertilizer for your lawn. They contain nutrients such as potassium, phosphorous, and nitrogen, which are essential to lawn health.
Photo: Jez Page
A great way to do this is to use a mulching mower. This is a special kind of lawn mower designed to chop up grass clippings finely. They are then able to sprinkle down in among the grass and break down, nourishing your lawn.
If you don’t have a mulching mower, you can use an ordinary one, too. Simply set the front wheels slightly higher than the back. This will double cut the grass – once as the front wheels roll over it, and again as the back wheels do. As the grass is being cut a second time, the clippings created when the front wheels rolled over will be cut into finer bits as well. Keep in mind that mulching works best when grass is dry.
Tip #3) Dispose of your clippings properly.
It’s tempting to dump those clippings down a storm drain, or pile them in the woody patch along the stream bank. “It’s biodegradable,” you might tell yourself. Don’t do it. If you’re not going to leave your clippings on the grass, bag them and put them on the curb for your friendly neighborhood sanitation workers to dispose of.
Your lawn needs a lot more nutrition than the local creek. Dumping your clippings into a storm drain or stream bank is like feeding your kids nothing but chocolate cake — it’s not good for them.
You’ve mowed your lawn. You’ve followed these tips. And now it’s time to relax and enjoy the rewards! Next time your guests are over for that backyard cookout, enjoy the admiration they express over that lush green grass you’ve worked so hard to care for. Then, tell them about these extra steps you’ve taken to do your part for the environment and watch the look on their faces.
About the Author
Are you a green thumb in the Washington, DC or its suburbs? If so, check out the Metro DC Lawn and Garden Blog, your source for “green” news and tips in the area. This article was placed in this directory by the Water Words That Work, LLC, an environmental communication company.