There's nothing more environmentally friendly than a well-manicured lawn, right? Well, not necessarily. "People are used to seeing a perfect green carpet, and you have to get used to seeing different colors in your lawn, different textures and that's okay," says horticulturist Nellie Gardner. She and her dog Wags are busy turning an old Pittsford farm into something really "green".
For the past three years, pesticides haven't been used on the lawn. Eventually it will be completely organic.
"We have a bunch of different grasses and legumes growing in the lawn and that requires less fertilizer. The more different species of grass and clover you have in your lawn, the less fertilizer you need," says Gardner.
She says the more chemicals you use, the more you will need. She recommends using different types of grasses instead that will help feed each other and keep things balanced out. "When you start using inputs on your lawn, fertilizers and different pesticides, chemicals to kill things you develop sort of a monoculture. The more you have that, the more nature fights against that and the more inputs you need."
Of course, there are some other things you can do to cut back. Watering your lawn for one hour on average uses 220 gallons. The best advice is if you have to water, do it early in the morning, that way the water you do use will go a long way.
Plus that old lawnmower could also be doing more harm than good. The EPA estimates Americans use 800 million gallons of gas per year mowing their lawns. That produces up to 5% of the nation's air pollution.
One alternative is to use a push powered mower. Or you could trade your grass for something else all together.
"If you have a very small lawn, you can actually use ground cover. I have actually converted much of my lawn to a rock garden as well as ground cover so you have no grass. I would say a lot of city lots could actually be converted to a garden," says Gardner.