Want to help save the earth? Try starting with your patch of the planet: your lawn. Eco-friendly lawn care is easier than you think, and it can make a big difference for the environment. 

    6 Steps Toward Eco-Friendly Lawn Care

    1. Reduce lawn size.
    2. Fertilize less.
    3. Mow higher.
    4. Ditch gas mowers.
    5. Conserve water.
    6. Choose natural weed and pest control.

    Reduce Lawn Size

    One option for an eco-friendly lawn is to reduce its size. Replace grass with native, drought-tolerant plants in areas where foot traffic is low. Do this in areas where you always have to replace the sod as well. You’ll save time and money with native plants because they’re accustomed to the weather and soil conditions in your area. They need less water, fertilizer, and maintenance than plants from other locales. 

    You can also reduce the size of your lawn by replacing it with ground cover. These low growing, perennial plants can be an attractive option to thirsty, high maintenance turf. Exercise caution when choosing ground covers, because some of them spread aggressively and are considered invasive species. Xeriscaping uses native plants and ground covers to reduce the amount of turf in a yard. It also helps cut down on the number of weeds in your yard without using harmful chemicals. Many lawn care services will help you design a xeriscape plan and install it for you.

    Fertilize Less

    If you have to fertilize, choose a slow-release, organic fertilizer. Follow directions on the label and use only what you need. Do not apply lawn fertilizer when it’s supposed to rain in the next 24 hours. This will keep it from washing away and ending up in groundwater, and sewers. Collect any lawn clippings from hard surfaces like sidewalks and driveways. This will prevent fertilizer on the clippings from washing into storm drains and sewers and into water sources. Instead of using chemical fertilizers, compost your yard waste, or leave grass clippings on your grass to act as a natural mulch and fertilizer. You’ll actually save money by using fewer lawn care products.

    Mow Higher 

    Leaving your grass longer will make the grass stronger and help shade the soil. This can help with weed control in several ways. Less sun on the soil will make it harder for weeds to take hold, and a healthy lawn will crowd out dandelions and other weeds. Longer grass can also help the root system grow deeper, which can help prevent erosion and runoff.

    Ditch Gas-Powered Mowers

    Push-reel mower. Credit: Steven Depolo, CC 2.0

    Get “reel” serious about cutting down your carbon footprint with a reel mower. These mowers are quieter, lighter, and provide a more environmentally friendly way of cutting the grass than gas mowers. They’re also gentler on your grass and will leave fine clippings behind. Those clippings are good mulch for your lawn and return important nutrients to the soil. Newer models have come a long way from the ones your grandparents used. Reel mowers are a good option if you’ve got a half-acre lawn or smaller.

    If you’re not ready for muscle-powered lawn mowing, consider switching to an electric mower. There are corded and battery-powered models. Both will cut the polluting emissions of their gas-powered counterparts. Another option is to use a mulching mower or install a mulching blade on your current mower. These mowers and blades cut the grass clippings into small pieces that will fall to the soil surface. Microorganisms in the soil break them down, releasing nutrients into the soil.

    Conserve Water

    Save water by watering only when your lawn needs it. If you have an automatic irrigation system, turn off the sprinklers when it’s raining and skip watering if it has rained recently or if rain is in the forecast. Consider a smart sprinkler system to track weather and soil conditions. It’ll adjust your watering schedule, conserve water, and save you money on your water bill. Direct downspouts from your rain gutters to water your lawn and garden. If your community allows it, use rain barrels to collect rainwater to use on your lawn. 

    Choose Natural Weed and Pest Control

    It’s no secret that pesticides and chemical weed killers are bad for the environment. Biopesticides are an environmentally friendly alternative to synthetic formulas. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says, “Biopesticides include naturally occurring substances that control pests (biochemical pesticides), microorganisms that control pests (microbial pesticides), and pesticidal substances produced by plants containing added genetic material (plant-incorporated protectants) or PIPs.” You can also find organic weed killers or make your own. 

    Use these lawn care tips to help you create and maintain an eco-friendly lawn. By choosing organic products and keeping a healthy lawn, you can have a green lawn and a green planet.