Friday, July 16, 2010

No lawn is a good lawn – Why Dr. Stabler challenges the poll

From time to time, I run poll questions on this blog about various topics related to gardens and landscapes. The current poll asked how high your mower blades are set: 1, 2 or 3 inches. There was also a selection for "Not sure/don't know".

The purpose of these questions is to encourage people to think a little bit about their gardening and landscaping practices.

The height of our mower blades has a direct effect on the health of our lawns and on the planet. Experts recommend that you mow your lawn at a height of 2 to 3 inches. Longer blades of grass provide for a more vigorous lawn with a thicker turf and fewer pests. There is a very in-depth resource and podcast entitled Mow Like a Pro on the Virginia Cooperative Extension Center website.

A blog reader, Dr. L. Brooke Stabler, an Assistant Professor of Biology at the University of Central Oklahoma contacted me with this comment:

I don't have any lawn, so I'm not sure how to answer your poll. There are just too many eco-friendly reasons not to have a lawn. Something like 60% of domestic freshwater use goes to water lawns, which of course then leads to the need to mow. Gas powered lawn equipment puts out more CO2 and other pollutants (plus noise) per hour run time than a Hummer. Fertilizers and pesticides run off or percolate into the soil and end up in water, polluting it. The good old American meticulous lawn is one of the biggest environmental disasters there is. Doing away with a lawn and instead installing native vegetation is one of the most eco-friendly things a person can do. Ironically, many cities have ordinances that would consider such a practice "letting weeds grow" and would fine home owners for doing it. 

Although I generally love a good debate with Dr. "Brooke" (she's my sister), I have to admit that this time, she's right. Less lawn (or no lawn) can be much better for the environment. Plus, even more than a good debate, I love having a sister that takes time away from her busy career to visit my blog. 

So in deference to Dr. Stabler's comments, I have changed my poll to reflect a new option: "My eco-friendly lawn does not require mowing."

Here is a link for more information about the Benefits of Reducing Your Lawn

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