Thursday, September 1, 2011

Reasons to Abandon 1950's Style Grass Lawns

Some interesting facts for parties! One-liners to help make the point that grass lawns are passé!
• According the US Environmental Protection Association, a gas-powered push mower emits as much hourly pollution as 11 cars and a riding mower emits as much as 34 cars (see Small Engine Rule to Bring Big Emissions Cuts).

• Lawn and garden equipment emits 5% of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the US, which cause health problems and contribute to ozone formation.

• A gas mower emits as much hydrocarbons in one hour as a car driven 100 miles. (see EPA pdf)

• Mowers in the US use 580 million gallons of gas per year.

• 40-60% of nitrogen from fertilizer runs off or leaches away, ending up in ground or surface water, including wells.

60-70 million birds die from pesticide poisoning each year in the US alone.

• In the US, 30 percent of water consumed on the East Coast waters lawns, 60 percent on the West Coast. (go to this site for tips on saving water! )

• A 2001 Toronto Staff Report (PDF format), reported that using a commercial leaf-blower for one hour generated "498 times as much hydrocarbons, 49 times as much particulate matter and 26 times as much carbon monoxide" as a then newer-model car.

• Close to 70 million pounds of pesticides (including herbicides) are applied to US lawns each year. This is approximately ten times the amount applied to American farmland, acre for acre.

• As of 2004, about 70 million tons of fertilizers were used on US lawns a year.

• A Toronto Public Health Report on lawn and garden pesticides (PDF format) claims that between 2004 and 2006, almost half the homeowners in Toronto used pesticides on their lawns.

• The Virginia Cooperative Extension in its publication "Nutrient Management for Lawn Service Companies," states that some fungicides and pesticides can kill 60 to 90% -- or more -- of the earthworms where they are applied.

• Between 30 and 40 million acres of land in the U.S. are devoted to turf grass (see Curbing the Lawn)

• Americans collectively spend big bucks -- about $40 billion annually -- on seed, sod and chemicals.

• The top four crops in terms of acreage in the United States today: Corn, Wheat, Soybeans and Grass Clippings.

• And finally, this from me, mowing kills many beneficial caterpillars, spiders, lizards and other small creatures we are sharing our yards with.

Check out the Organic Lawn Care 101 website for more great info and tips on making your own yard more bird/bee friendly!