Stop Obsessing Over Weeds for a Healthier Lawn

For years, the American Dream has meant getting a house with a white picket fence and an astroturf-perfect lawn. And for some, that’s still the ultimate goal. I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but that pristine lawn of your dreams is incredibly unsustainable and actually harms the environment.

“A smooth, closely shaven surface of grass is by far the most essential element of beauty on the grounds of a suburban house,” landscape designer Frank J. Scott wrote in the late 1800s. “Let your lawn be your home’s velvet robe, and your flowers its not too promiscuous decoration.”

We seem to have taken those words to heart. “America has more than 50,000 square miles of lawn under cultivation, on which we spend an estimated $30 billion a year,” according to the Lawn Institute.

Enter any quintessential suburban area, and you’ll see a sea of perfectly coiffed lawns. To some, it may look like a paradise, but to the environment, it’s a disaster. It’s time to get rid of monoculture lawns. Here’s why.

Lawns are so wasteful.

Prepare to be shocked. According to the EPA, gas-powered lawn mowers emit 11 times more air pollution than a new car per hour! Not to mention they’re estimated to contribute as much as five percent of the smog in some areas of the U.S.  Even worse, Americans spill 17,000,000 gallons of gasoline annually when refueling mowers and other equipment.

To keep lawns looking perfect, 45 million households use chemical fertilizers, 46 million use insecticides and 47 million use chemical weed-killers.

Not to mention that, to keep your turf verdant and lively, it’s going to need a lot of regular watering. With severe water shortages plaguing huge swaths of the country, this is incredibly selfish.

Sorry, but green turf lawns are anything but green.

Beautiful nature

They’re terrible for pollinators.

The highly cultivated, astroturf-style lawn is a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with monoculture farming.

It’s a food desert for pollinators. Turf lawns are a low-nutrition, sterile area of the ecosystem with relatively no pollen or nectar output to feed keystone insect species. Long term, they’ll leave the soil depleted and dead.

Plus, most people spray their lawns with pesticides and herbicides to ensure they stay healthy, weed-free and perfectly preserved. Unfortunately, these highly toxic chemicals are also killing pollinators, causing even more problems for us and our environment. Just say no.

Vibrant wildflowers background

Rethink weeds.

The irony of a short cut lawn is that it actually makes weeds more of an issue. It allows dormant plants to access the sunlight they needs to flourish and take over. If you do have a lawn, leave it a little longer—four inches or so—and you’ll experience less weeds.

But what’s so bad about weeds, anyway? A lot of the plants we call weeds are valuable native benefactors to the local environment. For instance, clover and dandelion bloom readily, brightening empty lawns and feeding pollinators. Plus, you can eat dandelion. It’s really good for you, too—free food!

Some plants that we’ve been taught to call weeds are actually really beneficial. Do your research and be a little more discriminate with your weeding in the future.

We may see smooth, lush lawns of pure grass as a status symbol, but it’s time to abandon that antiquated way of thinking. Instead, plant edible or medicinal plants in your yard—or lush wildflowers—or just let your lawn do its thing. Better yet, plant a pollinator-friendly bee lawn and support the environment while beautifying your view. Let’s help green turf lawns finally go out of style.

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Photos via Getty Images

52 comments

Leo Custer
Leo C2 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Louise A
Louise A3 days ago

Thank you for sharing

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David C
David C3 days ago

thanks

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Shae Lee
Shae Lee3 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Michael F
Michael F4 days ago

Thank You For Sharing This !!!

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Shirley S
Shirley S6 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Danuta W
Danuta W6 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Dr. Jan H
Dr. Jan Hill7 days ago

thanks

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Lesa D
Lesa D7 days ago

thank you Jordyn...

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Alina Kanaski
Alina Kanaski7 days ago

Thanks for sharing!

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