Going Green Doesn’t Mean Fertilize


Go green by replacing or cutting out part of your lawn.


American’s love their lawns or so it would seem from all the grass we plant.  However, lawns are an unnatural alternative to Mother Nature and as such turn out to be a threat to air and water quality.  And the issue isn’t just about us—it’s about all the plants and animals we displace.


A Few Facts


Consider these facts as reported from the National Wildlife Federation’s website:

  • Most of the approximately 50-70 percent of residential water used for landscaping goes to water lawns
  • Lawns cover approximately 20-30 million acres in the United States.
  • According to the EPA, nearly 70 million pounds of active pesticide ingredients are applied to suburban lawns each year.
  • The chemicals from lawns help make polluted runoff the single largest source of water pollution nationwide
  • A 1995 EPA study showed that urban water runoff contributed to damage in more than 26,000 river and stream miles nationwide.
  • Gas-powered lawn mowers are responsible for five percent of the nation’s air pollution.
  • A gas-powered lawnmower emits 11 times the air pollution of a new car.
  • The average American homeowner spends 40 hours a year mowing the lawn.


At Issue


A beautiful lawn can make a house look better.

Lush, green lawns are beautiful, but it is worth the long-term cost?

Clearly, the benefits of open play and recreation space for our children and pets should not be dismissed.  Yet, there are serious issues at stake, which can make cutting back on the size of a lawn or the amount of chemicals used for lawn care important.


This becomes a quality of life issue—one which contrasts our short-term interest in having or maintaining a beautiful yard, with the long-term consequences to natural resources, and the ultimate impact that has on our overall environment.



What To Do


So what can an average homeowner do to help?  Consider these options as you look at changing your yard, cutting back on the size of your lawn, or as you go about maintaining it:

Nature has a balance.  It's worth keeping intact.

Many native plant species like fox glove are beautiful and promote wildlife.

(1) Eliminate or reduce the overall size of your lawn and replace it with:

(A) Native species plants as ground cover

(B) Native trees or shrubs

(C) Rockery and rock gardens

(D) Mulched or stone paths

(2) Cut back or eliminate non-organic lawn treatment
(3) Plant grass species native to your area
(4) Keep lawn mower blades sharp (this helps mulch the clippings)
(5) Mow at higher heights (short-cropped grass is more disease prone)
(6) Replace gas-powered mowers with electric mowers
(7) Take basic steps to conserve water (See our Great Savings Tip #95 – Cut Your Water Bill for more information.)
(8) Visit or join organizations like the National Wildlife Federation to learn more.

Go green.  Replace the grass.

A backyard can be even more beautiful without a lawn.

Getting Started

There are a lot of reasons to consider the impact of having and maintaining a lawn.  There’s the time and money involved in mowing and fertilizing.  There’s also all the water used to keep it green and the pollution generated from fertilizers and lawnmowers.  If you’d like to do something, but don’t know where or even how to start, check the links on this page or try reading the following books for more ideas:

Noah’s Garden: Restoring the Ecology of Our Own Backyards
Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants
Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants


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