Guest Blogger: Is lawn maintenance really needed?

The American dream is to own a house with a large lawn that looks like that it came out of a picture in a magazine. We water the lawn religiously, so the grass will look bright and lush green and we use fertilizers to accomplish this bright green dream. Is all of this work and money being spent on the lawn really worth it?
Homeowners spend around $25 billion on lawn care services and $5.25 billion spend on fossil-fuel-derived fertilizer for their lawns according to Purdue University. Like most of us, we think that the more is better. In this situation this is not the case. Most homeowners do not even know how much of the chemicals they should be putting down on their lawns. For example, more than 50 percent of nitrogen from fertilizer leaches from lawns into groundwater as a result of over application. I would have to say that most homeowners do not even known why or what they are even putting on their lawns.
Here are some of the many reasons for not applying these chemicals in the first place. The two main ingredients of fertilizer are phosphorus and nitrogen and both of these applied in a high concentration can have a negative effects. The run-off of phosphorus and nitrogen can get into the groundwater and can also cause an enormous amount of damage to streams and rivers. Phosphorus can create algae bloom in lakes. This algae depletes the oxygen for which fish and other aquatic species depend on for their exststance. Nitrogen can easily break down and contaminate groundwater supplies. Nitrogen affects more parts of the planet’s life-support systems than almost any other element, according James Galloway of the University of Virginia.
Water, which is a precious source, is wasted on lawns. How many of us have seen sprinklers turned on during a rain storm? During the summer lawns die back and turn brown. This is a natural occurrence of nature. In the United States we use roughly around 270 billion gallons of water a week for lawns. That’s a billion with a “B”. Dr. Patricia Mosto of Rider University stated that we will run out of water by 2030. This is only 20 years away. Think about it, why waste water on a lawn that is just going through its natural cycle?
There are a few things that we can do so that we are not so wasteful and be kinder to the environment. First, people who do have lawns should have their soil tested, so if they do want to put down fertilizers on their lawns they will know how much and of what kind. Second, if you do have to water your lawn, there is an inexpensive gadget that will turn off the sprinkler when it starts to rain. Both methods will save you money and help the environment.
I like lawns just as anybody else does, but I just cannot see the waste, the time and the money being spent. Just go along with nature and enjoy what nature provided.
A second year student at Rider University. Glenn Hermely is going for his Sociology Degree with a minor in political science.
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