A healthy lawn equals a healthy environment

A healthy lawn equals a healthy environment

Your healthy lawn can benefit the environment with a positive impact. Find my favorite tips on how and why to keep your lawn “Green” instead of “Putting Green” perfect.

Close your eyes. Picture the serenity of a healthy green lawn: peaceful sunshine, wildlife, children at play, lounging and relaxation, ballgames, playing fetch with pets, glorious gardens and cookouts with friends.

With eyes wide open, you recognize that a well-manicured lawn adds between 6 and 15 percent value to your real estate, making it not only pleasant but also an economic asset to your home. But did you know that your lawn — and how you take care of it — can benefit the environment?

Healthy turf environments provide healthy ecosystems shared by a variety of life, including human beings. Grass is highly efficient at converting poisonous carbon dioxide to oxygen, a process that helps produce and clean the air we breathe.

Thick, healthy turf prevents soil erosion, filters contaminants from rainwater, groundwaters and lakes. It reduces noise pollution and absorbs many types of airborne pollutants. It is essentially a direct part of daily human life, surrounding our homes, recreational spaces, air supply and water.

Additionally, it provides essential habitat, shelter and feeding grounds for animals, wildlife and birds. Decomposing turf becomes the rich soil and nutrient source required for many insects, worms and healthy microbes essential for plants, animals and humans alike.

Proper lawn care both enhances appearance and contributes to environmental benefits. The secret is to work with nature, creating conditions for grass to thrive and resist damage from weeds, disease and insect pests.

Think about lawn care as a preventative health care program, similar to how your own health depends on proper nutrition, exercise and rest to build a strong immune system. Taking precautions for good health helps prevent problems from occurring. Healthy lawns with strong immune systems can out-compete most weeds, survive most insect attacks and fend off most disease. A little preventative care goes a long way for humans and turf, and reduces need for medications or chemical interventions.

Remember, chemicals used outside the home inevitably end up inside. Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, research your care program and products for nutrition and chemical content. Consider what will benefit your type of turf, including soil factors, moisture and sunlight.

Use the following steps as a guide to a preventative health care program for your lawn:

Develop healthy soil. Your lawn needs soil with good texture, living organisms, key nutrients and the right pH balance. Using the right fertilizer seasonally helps provide healthy nutrients most soils lack in proper proportion. Lime can be added to soil that is too acidic, and sulfur where more acid is needed. Midwest climate soils are prone to compaction and benefit from aeration.

Choose appropriate grass varieties. The right type of grass that suits your needs for sun, moisture, mowing and local climate will always give better results.

Proper mowing. Mow high and with sharp blades. Keeping turf three inches high and shaving less than an inch per cutting will produce stronger, healthier roots and a healthier lawn. Sharp blades give a clean cut, preventing turf damage and brown tips that make it weaker.

Proper watering. Water slowly and deeply only when the lawn really needs it. Avoid mid-day and late night watering.

Remove thatch build-up. Dead plant material, known as thatch, can build between the grass blades and the soil. Thatch deeper than one-half inch prevents water and nutrients from penetrating the soil and reaching grass roots. Healthy lawns contain thriving microorganisms and earthworms which self-sustain the thatch layer, keeping it in balance by decomposing it and releasing nutrients back into the soil.

Set realistic goals. Conduct an environmentally sensible lawn care program. Aim for “green” instead of “putting-green” perfection. A healthy lawn is often richer in color and density, but an occasional weed or insect pest might occur. It will also have beneficial insects and other organisms that help keep pests under control. It can often take an entire season to see the desired, long-lasting results.

Environmentally sensible lawn care can have a bigger impact than you might think. Your lawn is only a small piece of land, but lawns across the country cover a lot of ground. Your lawn care activities, along with everyone else’s, make a huge impact on the environment and all who live in it. Healthy lawns and a healthy environment begin in our own backyards.