There has recently been a national negative push by some environmental groups to campaign for stricter rules regarding the use of fertilizers on lawns which has led to the actual outright ban of lawns in some municipalities.
I have researched the subject and find that it is overblown with most of the hypothesis incorrect. The following is my opinion of how lawns are beneficial to your property and the cities that are built around them. The area that is most affected right now in the United States is the Great Lakes Regions due to the already high Phosphorus content in their soils, and this is where most of the data is formed. Although there are some problem water bodies and soil areas, most of the country does not have a Phosphorus problem. So why is it all of a sudden bad to have a lawn?
When you buy a bag of fertilizer from the store do not read the manufacturers slogan on the front, that is meant as a marketing tool so that you will buy their product. Always turn the product over and by law there must be a label that states exactly what is in the bag. You will see 3 numbers that are enlarged at the top of the label or on the bag this is what is called the NPK. Nitrogen is the first one, Phosphorus is the second and Potassium the third number, for example a lawn fertilizer has the numbers 25-5-10.
Here in the Willamette Valley we have for the most part just the right Phosphorus content in the soil. As you move up to the hill areas where grapes are grown the phosphorus becomes less in the soil as are the soils on the Oregon Coast.
It has not been proven that phosphorus from a bag of fertilizer actually seeps down through the soil table and into water bodies.
It has been proven that the major contributor to phosphorus runoff is from decomposing leaves, sticks, lawn clippings and other plant based organic matter that is not collected and removed. These will break down and cause phosphorus runoff.
So why have government agencies rushed to blame our nice green lawns as the culprit that must be removed? I will let you figure out the answer to this one, it could have some kind of politically motivated agenda (just my opinion)
Positive Lawn facts
- With all of our paved streets and driveways lawns will actually cool your property significantly compared to other ground covers, plants, bark, gravel, etcetera.
- The amount of Oxygen that is produced is significantly more than the same area that is planted with plant material due to its density as a ground cover.
- Lawns mostly eliminate erosion and runoff acting as the ultimate ground cover, in fact lawns are a type of water purifier as water moves down through the soil table.
- Lawns increase air quality by acting as a filter especially along streets where cars are constantly moving the dirt, dust and air around.
- Lawns help to reduce noise levels in driveways and along streets.
- Lawns are soft and create an excellent outdoor living and play area.
- Lawns are GREEN, isn’t that what everyone is talking about is green and how to be green, can you get any greener than a properly fertilized, weed free lawn? If so please let me know.
Possible negative lawn facts
Lawns use too much water. Does a lawn use too much water or could it be that the homeowner puts too much water on the lawn? With today’s professional water systems and our short water period of about 3 months per year?
Lawns use too much fertilizer. Again is it the lawns fault that the homeowner uses too much product?
Higher maintenance. Actually in my opinion a lawn is less maintenance. You have one plant with 3 requirements - water, feed and cut. Having a yard full of plant materials of many varieties all have different needs so if you have many plants you need much knowledge on how to maintain all of those plants as well as different tools to maintain. Also factor in mulching, trimming, staking, feeding, watering, cultivating and some talking to as some of my clients do.
Ok, you can see that I am a huge lawn advocate, and in fact I think that a lawn is the greenest most beautiful piece of the landscape. The current trends are another lame idea that certain folks out there are attempting to pick on because if sounds good or politically correct.
If you don’t agree with me please send me a mail so we can have a healthy debate, I surely have something to learn somewhere on this subject.