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There’s nothing quite like a thick, green lawn to represent the arrival of summer. Unfortunately, keeping a lawn perfectly green requires a major investment of resources that makes this American institution quite harmful to the environment. Fortunately, there are options other than grass that you can use for your home’s exterior. To figure out where to begin, here are a few ideas for eco-friendly alternatives to a water-wasting lawn. Moss The green, fuzzy plant that often appears by itself in shady spots around your home can make a great alternative to the grass you have to work so hard to cultivate. Moss helps to prevent erosion, can thrive without much upkeep, and can stand up to light foot traffic. Given that it can retain its green color far more easily than grass, you won’t have to invest nearly as many natural resources to keep your lawn looking great. Stone Stone isn’t merely a lawn covering for yards in desert locations. As a low-maintenance option, nothing beats a stone lawn, no matter where you live. By using crushed stone as a foundation and dressing it up with natural stone tiles, you can create a fun and functional yard that requires no water, no fertilizer, and, when installed correctly, very few pesticides. Artificial Turf If you don’t want to sacrifice the look of a perfectly green lawn, then artificial turf might be a great option for you. Since it’s pre-manicured, you won’t have to use any water, fertilizer, or pesticides. You also won’t have to cut your grass or fill in any bare spots that often occur. Newer artificial turf is designed to last for a long time and is great at preventing erosion while providing excellent drainage. Plus, it can be easily shaped to fit in any space, making it uniquely versatile. Grow Wild While it may not ever make it on the cover of a magazine, there is something to be said for the beauty of a wild lawn. By letting your lawn grow with whatever seeds happen to be dropped by birds and other animals, you provide a great habitat for wildlife to thrive. Plus, since most natural lawns tend to grow an abundance of clover, you will help to provide an excellent food source for the local bee population. Aside from regular cuts to keep growth under control, a wild lawn is an eco-friendly and easy-to-maintain option. Think of the Future If you live in a suburban area, it can be tempting to try and “keep up with the Joneses” when it comes to your lawn. However, following this route is typically a short-sighted approach that doesn’t consider the long-term implications of this major investment of resources. By considering the future of the environment, you can make a small contribution to its health by opting for one of these eco-friendly lawn options.
There are many residential and commercial property owners who extol the virtues of either artificial turf with its complete landscape system or a real grass lawn, and they have good reasons for their strong opinions. However, which type of lawn is best for you? If you’ve got blank patches of yard yearning to breathe green, read on to learn which type of lawn best suits your needs and preferences. Artificial Turf Benefits Artificial turf is eco-friendly and has the feel and look of real grass. The ground and drainage are prepared, the material used keeps the artificial blades erect, and there is a special “yarn” that creates the “soft-grass” realistic blades that come in a variety of textures, lengths, designs, and colors. This means that you get a soft, always-green lawn without all the many hassles of real grass and all its upkeep, mowing, fertilizing, weeding, re-seeding, and most importantly, watering. Although expensive, the artificial turf life expectancy could possibly be 15 or 25 years or more, which actually makes it less costly than real grass over its life span. Artificial Turf Drawbacks It is often made at least partially with recycled materials, so it is not biodegradable. While it doesn’t have the same watering needs as a real lawn, it cannot be so easily disposed of as a grass lawn. Another drawback is that artificial turf absorbs heat in the direct sun and feels hot when you touch it. The temperature in 80-90 degree weather can actually exceed 160 degrees, making it hazardous in the heat of summer for children and pets. An additional problem for dog owners is that it does not absorb an animal's waste, although liquids can pass through to the ground underneath. Real Grass Lawn Benefits Real grass, in the right climate, can make more sense than artificial turf by its entirely organic nature. Grass is bio-degradable and produces oxygen just like any other plant, and when only organic fertilizers are used, it can even be a beneficial snack to help the digestion of cats and dogs alike. While it does retain heat, it does not do so to the degree of artificial turf and is generally safe to walk on as long as there are no hazardous weeds growing with it. Organically sustained grass can also increase the bio-diversity in your neighborhood by providing food and refuge to a variety of animals and insects. Real Grass Lawn Drawbacks Immaculately maintained grass lawns come with a cost to the environment and account for one-third of residential water use. Use of toxic fertilizers and weed killers can pollute the groundwater and pose a serious health risk to children and animals that are exposed to it. Mowing, trimming, and blowing with gas and electric power tools also consumes energy and produces air pollution that otherwise wouldn’t be necessary. While a natural lawn can potentially be environmentally sustainable, it’s important to note that it likely will not be soft and green for a majority of the year. The type of lawn you choose is a personal preference. Both have pros and cons regarding cost, care, and the environment that must be considered on an individual basis. The climate you live in, your home, and your ability to care for and use a lawn of either kind must be considered. You must decide which benefits and drawbacks make the most sense to you and your lifestyle.