Here are a few tips and ideas on how to have an eco friendly lawn!
Choosing the Right Mower
An hour of mowing with a gas-powered mower produces nearly the same amount of pollution as a car driving 100 miles! Here are low-energy, high-quality options:
Rotary mowers. Hand powered mowers are making a comeback! They have minimal environmental impact, are easy to maneuver, and are low maintenance.
Electric mowers. Electric mowers emit far fewer pollutants than gas-powered mowers, are much quieter, and typically easier to push.
Battery mowers. These mowers offer many of the same benefits as electric mowers. However, they do contain batteries that generally only last five years which also must be disposed of in a hazardous waster facility, as they contain heavy metals.
Mowing and Fertilizing
Mowing. Do only as often as you need to keep your lawn in good shape. For most lawns, cut your grass no lower than 2.5 inches; keeping many grasses as long as 3.5 inches is ideal for crowding out crab grass and other weeds. Longer grass retains water better.
Use natural fertilizers or compost. They release nutrients slowly throughout the year, won’t leach away, and support the variety of soil organisms that combat diseases.
Grass clippings. Keep them on the lawn after you mow to provide your lawn with a natural (and free) source of nutrients, or compost them for use in your garden.
Create healthy soil. Earthworms and other soil organisms keep the soil healthy. By moving through the soil, they allow water and air to penetrate, and they recycle thatch back into nutrients that the grass can use.
Using Less Water
The best way to reduce water use is to reduce the amount of landscape that requires water to maintain it.
Xeriscape. If you'd rather not have a lawn to take care of, opt for a grass free lawn. You can use a variety of plants, rocks, and mulch to make an eye pleasing landscape. Find ground covers that require little mowing or watering. Native plants are your best bet, so check with a local nursery to make sure what you choose is tolerant of your climate conditions. Here is Michigan's Native Plants List.
Water deeply but infrequently. Grasses do best when the whole root zone is wet, and then dries out between waterings. Frequent shallow watering causes poor root development, and over-watering promotes lawn disease. It's best to water in the early morning when temperatures are cooler, minimizing evaporation.
Check your sprinkler system regularly. Adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street.
Collect and use rainwater. Water your garden with a rain barrel, direct downspouts, or gutters toward shrubs or trees.
Install a drip irrigation system. Place it around your trees and shrubs to water more efficiently.