The Problem

The Ecological Cost of Lawns

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Do We Really Need Lawns?

Just because it’s green (or maybe it’s brown this summer!?), doesn’t mean it’s clean.

  • Lawns call for lots of water, trimming, and maintenance in order to reach a gold standard of curb appeal, all with negative environmental and health side effects.

  • Suburban lawns are what we’ve come to expect, but they are not natural, drive off wildlife, and limit habitat and food for native species.

  • Traditional lawns involve noise, air pollution, work, and significant expense.

Lawn Strip

Lawnmowers and Leaf Blowers

  • ​The machines are expensive, ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.

  • They emit pollutants into the atmosphere, and affect the lungs of others through the creation of ozone.

  • The two-stroke engine of lawnmowers and gas-powered leaf blowers emits carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrous oxides since 30% of the fuel it uses does not completely combust.

  • People move to the suburbs for peace and quiet, away from the racket of a city, but lawnmowers create noise pollution producing high-decibel disturbances to neighbors.

  • When refueling a lawnmower, gasoline is often spilled and can potentially leak into the groundwater supply. According to the EPA, people spill 17 million gallons of oil when restocking their equipment's engines annually! This is pollution that could be removed if people converted lawns to native plants. 

  • It takes the average person one hour to mow their lawn, and with fueling and maintenance, it's expensive!

  • Consumer-grade leaf blowers emit more pollutants than a 6,200-pound 2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. Well, that's not good for the environment!


Water Abuse

  • Deep-rooted perennials are more drought-resistant and help shade and cool the soil, reducing evaporation and the need for regular watering. Perennial gardens also do a better job of capturing rain than tightly-packed grass yards.

  • Watering a 22,000 square ft lawn (which is half an acre) needs 2,550 gallons of water, which, depending on your city, can equate roughly to $15 each time your sprinkler runs.  

Garden Hose Sprinkler

Pesticides & Herbicides

  • To prevent bugs, weeds, and animals from entering gardens and grasses, people use pesticides and herbicides to ward them off, which damages insect and animal ecosystems.

  • There are significant concerns that these products contain carcinogenic chemicals detrimental to the health of kids and parents who play and walk through the area.

  • Pets' chances of getting cancer are doubled if their owners' grass is treated with chemicals.

  • What you put on your lawn doesn’t always stay there. Runoff carries chemicals into streams, lakes, and the Sound, having long term impacts on these ecosystems. Just think, every rainfall rinses excess chemicals off of thousands of lawns in the New Haven area and into local waterways!