There are about 31.6 million acres of turf—almost 50,000 square miles—in the US. Lawns (including residential and commercial lawns, as well as golf courses) could be considered the single largest irrigated crop in America in terms of surface area, 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 provide adequate water for the nation’s lawn surface area.[1]

A lawnmower used for one hour creates as much air pollution as a car driven for 20 miles. Each year in the US, $5.2 billion is spent on fossil fuel-based lawn fertilizers; 67,000,000 pounds of synthetic lawn pesticides are applied; and 580 million gallons of gasoline are used in lawnmowers. Depending on the city, 30 to 60 percent of fresh water in urban areas is used to water lawns.[2]

Related health issues

The chemical 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) is one of the most commonly used herbicides in the US and is used in lawn care products to kill broad-leaf weeds like dandelions. Approximately 12 to 28 million pounds of 2,4-D is used each year in non-agricultural settings. Combining 2,4-D with a related chemical called 2,4,5-T created the cancer-causing defoliant Agent Orange, used during the Vietnam War. Although 2,4,5-T was banned by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), use of 2,4-D is still permitted, although its health effects are under review.[3]

A study conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association found that certain breeds of dogs are four to seven times more likely to contract bladder cancer when exposed to chemically treated lawns.[4]


  • herbicide: An agent used to destroy or inhibit plant growth.

External links



Submitted this earlier .... should mention this type of turf-grass. It only grows 6 inches ... needs to be mowed once a year.
Originally used out west, but cultivars are being created for the northeast.


Hi B Dietz,

Thanks for the suggestion. Check out "Plant the right grass for your climate" where I mention buffalo grass. Have you ever grown it? I haven't, so I'd be interested in hearing about your experience with it. If there's anything else you'd like to see added to the Lawn or Gardening pages, please let me know. Thanks for taking the time to comment!


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