Lawn & Garden
Americans are in love with their lawns. Indeed, a 2003 study by the National Gardening Association found that eight out of ten (84 million) US households engaged in one or more categories of do-it-yourself lawn and garden activities. However, the lushness of these personal landscapes, while a source of joy and pride, also come with an environmental cost.
With 31.6 million acres of turf in the US—almost 50,000 square miles (which includes residential and commercial lawns, as well as golf courses)—lawns are the single largest irrigated "crop" in America, occupying three times more land than is devoted to irrigated corn. About 200 gallons of fresh water per person per day would be required to keep these lawns adequately hydrated.
How you care for your lawn and landscapes also affects air quality. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that gasoline-powered landscape equipment, including mowers, trimmers, blowers, and chainsaws, causes over 5 percent of urban air pollution. A single lawnmower, used for just one hour, creates as much air pollution as a car driven for 20 miles.
Yet another eco-problem: the fossil fuel-based fertilizers and harmful pesticides applied to millions of lawns and gardens across the US. In fact, each year $5.2 billion is spent on lawn fertilizers, and 67,000,000 pounds of lawn pesticides are applied. According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), American homeowners use 10 times more chemical-laced pesticides per acre than American farmers.
Achieving a well-manicured yard or bountiful garden needn't pollute the air or squander precious water supplies. Create eco-friendly outdoor spaces with GreenYour's guide to lawns and gardens:
- National Gardening Association - Press Release: NGA Announces Lawn & Garden Market Statistics for 2003
- US National Aeronautics and Space Administration Earth Observatory - Looking for Lawns
- New American Dream - Green your lawn(care)
- US Environmental Protection Agency - Green Landscaping with Native Plants: Wild Ones Handbook
- US Environmental Protection Agency - Wild Ones handbook