Travel the lawn-care time machine to conserve water and money

Could the current “green” awareness movement result in millions of Americans and Europeans going back in time?
If so, the place to start this time travel apparently is in our own back yards – and front yards.

The green, weed-free and well-manicured lawns of today didn’t exist in America until late in the 18th century. Before that, a typical rural home would simply have packed dirt or a garden with various plants and vegetables in the front of the home.

Wealthy folks in Europe were the first to start manicuring their lawns and actually defying nature – by trying to make one species of plant, in this case grass, dominate a wide area. Nature, being what it is, will fight that notion and push for a more diverse setting – thus the years-old battle against weeds and other invasive plants on our beautiful lawns.

When industrialists from America traveled to Europe, they came back with the thought that these beautiful, sweeping lawns on an estate were a sign of prestige and beauty.

So it was, the well-manicured lawn was born in America. It wasn’t until years later, with the creation of power mowers and garden hoses that having a green lawn became more practical. And its staying power has been significant, with a major upswing during the Baby Boom era and the creation of the modern subdivision in the 1950s. Until then, taking care of a lawn took too much time and effort for most families.

So, fast-forward to the modern day “green” movement – and we’re back to talking about the environmental and financial benefits of creating low-maintenance gardens or natural prairie plants on one’s property in place of the lavish, sprawling lawn.

There is no doubt that those little patches of green at the homes of most Americans have translated into huge business. Before the current recession took hold, a Gallup survey in the early 2000’s indicated that more than 26 million households had hired “a green professional” and that the number was expected to grow.

Environmentalists estimate that there are about 40 million to 50 million acres of lawn in the United States. Considering that in some parts of the country, an average size lawn can soak in 10,000 gallons of water a month, the amount of water used in greening up our lawns nationwide is staggering.

Slowly, some are switching over to native plants and grasses, some of which need to be cut only twice a year and can also be used to create a “meadow” as a play area for children.

A grass seed known as “eco-turf” seed is becoming more popular, as it is blended with plants such as wildflowers and clover. Most feedback from owners of such a turf claim it holds up better for kids and pets, requires very little water and virtually no fertilizing.

For many, it means putting away the sprinklers and spreaders while saving money and water through a process that actually creates an environmentally friendly habitat on their property.


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