The average American spends thousands of dollars per year to maintain a nice-looking lawn. Though the cost of keeping a small yard green may not seem like much, it's important to realize how many resources and chemicals go into maintaining a lush landscape - some of which may not be the best for your health, the health of your pets, or the health of the environment.
With this in mind, we've compiled a list of seven eco-friendly ways to maintain an attractive lawn without harming the environment, your health - or your wallet!
Benefits of Having an Eco-Friendly Lawn
There are countless benefits associated with choosing more natural treatments for your lawn and garden.
To start with, you can improve flood control and reduce erosion - when you use synthetic treatments, either in the form of fertilizer or herbicide, you diminish soil life and increase the likelihood that soil will be lost to wind and rainfall.
An eco-friendly lawn can provide valuable wildlife habitat and even create a cooling effect during warm weather. Of course, using eco-friendly alternatives can help you save money and add visual appeal to your property all at once, too!
7 Ways to Maintain an Eco-Friendly Lawn1. Grow Native Plants
Whenever possible, try to select plants for your lawn that are native to your local area. These will not only grow better (requiring far fewer pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides) but will also attract native butterflies, birds, and other wildlife. Of course, they’re well adapted to your climate, too - meaning you won’t have to worry about them dying from too much or too little cold, heat, or precipitation.
2. Keep it High and Dry
While it can be tempting to just mow once every few weeks, taking off huge chunks of grass blades each time you do so, this technique can backfire. Mowing more frequently and keeping the grass higher, cutting no more than a third of its height at once, will help the grass retain water and be healthier overall.
You should also try to leave your clippings on the lawn - this will add nutrients to the soil and help encourage healthy growth.
3. Use Organic Fertilizer
When it comes to keeping a lawn green, many homeowners resort to synthetic fertilizers to get the job done. However, you might want to consider an organic fertilizer instead. Good options include things like grass clippings, as mentioned above, as well as manures.
Of course, you could always build a compost pile. The compost you create by adding waste like kitchen scraps and lawn refuse can be used, after a period of time, to fertilize your lawn in a healthier, more natural way.
4. Use Mulch
There are countless benefits to using mulch in your landscaping. Organic mulches, like pine needles, bark, and wood chips will provide the most benefit, helping to add nutrients to the soil as well as regulating soil temperature and retaining moisture.
5. Save Rainwater
Mother Nature provides everything our plants need to grow strong and healthy - unfortunately, she doesn’t always provide it at the right time. Take advantage of regular rainfall by collecting and saving rainwater. You can use rain barrels or cisterns for this and then use the collected water to irrigate your plants later on.
6. Choose Groundcovers Over Grass
Rather than planting your entire lawn into grass, consider using a groundcover like clover or a creeping perennial. You can even use moss! Groundcovers require little to no mowing, no additional watering, and no chemicals like herbicides or pesticides. As an added benefit, these plants will often stay green during times of drought and create habitat for bees and butterflies!
7. Use Natural Pest Control
It’s no secret that pesticides are harmful to our health - you’ve heard of DDT, right?
While many of the most dangerous chemicals (like DDT) are now outlawed, there are still many pesticides that are commonly used that really aren’t the best for us. These pests can kill pollinators and aren’t great for our health, either.
Rather than using harmful pesticides, consider a few preventative measures you can take instead. Grow native plants and release beneficial insects, like lacewings, and use more natural insecticides like oil sprays.
Be Green - and Keep Your Lawn Green, Too
It's true that maintaining a healthy eco-friendly lawn isn't always as easy as it sounds. There are many factors to consider when you're deciding on the best way to care for your grass and make sure you don't harm the environment in the process.
That said, your lawn can be an eco-friendly oasis if you take steps to go green with your landscaping. While some of the best ways to maintain an eco-friendly lawn do take some time to implement (such as building a compost pile to fertilize your lawn rather than using a synthetic fertilizer), in the long run, you’ll be rewarded with results that last - and pay for themselves, too.