We have all heard rhetoric about how individuals can help solve enormous problems by just doing their fair share. I'm not the one to tell you how that applies to world peace or getting a Seinfeld reunion show off the ground—but when it comes to taking care of your lawn, there are a number of things homeowners can do to alleviate environmental problems.
Manage your lawn clippings
Most people realize that mulching in your clippings when you mow is a tad greener then loading them into plastic bags to be carted off to the landfill. Less well known is to make sure clippings are removed from walks and driveways. Cut grass is a nitrogen source and should be swept off impervious surfaces to avoid nutrient contamination of surface water (the #1 problem facing the Chesapeake Bay).
Retain your stormwater
Install a system that collects runoff for future use or promotes natural infiltration. Excess stormwater that has a chance to soak into the soil is naturally filtered before it reaches groundwater.
Avoid using combination fertilizer and pesticide products
With few exceptions, these products are not applied according to a lawn's specific needs. Most disease, insect or weed problems only affect portions of your lawn. Blanketing the entire lawn with pesticide instead of just treating needy areas uses too much chemical.
Don't over fertilize
Follow the Commonwealth of Virginia Standards and Criteria for fertilizing home lawns. These prescribed rates ensure adequate fertility for your turf while safeguarding ground and surface waters.
Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
IPM is recognized as a best practice to preserve human health and the environment by minimizing pesticide use but at the same time achieving desired results.
Spray and soak cycle watering
This enables folks who aim to water correctly (deeply but infrequently) to minimize wasteful runoff. After initial watering begins to puddle, suspend irrigating. This allows water to soak into the soil before starting again.
Maintain a nice lawn
That's right. A well-managed lawn provides a net environmental benefit. Slowing and filtering contaminated water runoff, preventing soil erosion, trapping greenhouse gasses, producing oxygen, among other things. Check out this blog post to see all the environmental benefits of a nice lawn.
There you have it. A true life 'have your cake and eat it too' situation. The 'cake' of course being your lawn. The 'eat it' being...well...I guess that's what to tell anyone that gives you a hard time for having a beautiful lawn after you have followed all the environmental-friendly recommendations we outlined in this post!