Learn about Lawn

“We love our lawns. In the United States more than 45 million acres—an area eight times the size of New Jersey—are carpeted with them. And we’re adding 500 square miles of turfgrass every year. Maintaining all that lawn is a huge undertaking and, for many, a source of personal pride. Annually, the average U.S. homeowner spends the equivalent of at least a full workweek pushing or driving a mower.

You could say the quest for perfect lawns—richly green, closely cropped, weedless, and insect-free—is almost as American as baseball. But this national preoccupation comes at a cost. Consider how many gallons of water and pounds of pesticides it takes to keep lawns lush. Depending on the conditions, a 25-by-40-foot yard can drink 10,000 gallons of water in a summer. Lawn care accounts for 70 million pounds of pesticides applied in the United States each year, 10 times more than even what is used in farming. The toxic runoff percolates into groundwater, threatening wildlife and human health.

What you get is a cookie-cutter landscape whether you’re in Palo Alto, Houston, Cincinnati, New York, or Phoenix. “All around the country you can find the same few species of grasses and foundation shrubs making up a national, undifferentiated residential landscape,” writes Pam Penick in her new book Lawn Gone!. “It’s like driving cross-country on the interstate and seeing the same four fast-food restaurants at every exit.”

And wherever green grass grows there was once habitat—a forest, prairie, wetland, or even a desert. Which is why many gardeners concerned about disappearing wilderness and wildlife declines are trying to grow the habitat back.”

–From National Audubon Society

Test Your Knowledge!

How many birds die annually in window collisions alone?