A perfectly manicured green lawn is bad for health due to the amount of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and excessive watering required to maintain it. What to do instead that will be far less stressful, more beautiful, and good for your family and the community.
I hate lawns. No offense to any of you self described lawn freaks out there, but the fact is that the more perfect and unblemished a lawn is, the more I hate it.
Perhaps my extreme distaste for perfect lawns comes from my own Mother’s obsession with lawns while I was growing up. Even today, she waters, sprays, weed eats, fertilizes, and chemicalizes the living daylights out of her lawn season after season and then laments how my yard looks better than hers.
What do I do to achieve superior lawn status? Absolutely nothing. Please don’t call it a lawn, though.
The word lawn to me means that you actually work on it and spray things on it. I don’t work on mine at all; therefore, it is a yard. It’s amazing how nice – not perfect – things can look when you leave nature alone and don’t disrupt the soil balance with chemicals.
Golf Courses Are Just Too Perfect
As much as I love to play golf (and I played a lot growing up – basically every day), I would never live on a golf course because I hate how perfect they look all the time.
I much prefer the links-style courses of Australia and Europe where frequently nothing is sprayed and yet the grass is beautiful anyway with mottled patches of brown and various shades of green grass snaking up and down each fairway.
The “greens” may or may not be green .. but the grass is smooth and slick anyway providing a perfect putting surface just the same as the overchemicalized American versions.
I once was told that each golf course green in America requires about $10,000 in chemicals to maintain it each year. I have no idea if this is true or not, but even if it’s remotely close speaks volumes to the amount of poison that is dumped in our environment year after year simply to maintain small patches of green putting surface.
Avoiding a lawn was a primary reason my husband and I moved to a rural neighborhood.
The thought of having a Homeowner Association send me a nasty letter because I had a brown spot or two on my lawn made no sense to me and knowing myself well, I realized I would never be moved to comply with these “rules”.
Such a letter would mean that I would have to spray chemical fertilizers and pesticides on said brown spots which my children would track into the house. Pesticides in a home take a very long time to break down. Kind of like a house guest you can’t seem to get rid of.
Pesticides on my lawn would also mean hormone-disrupting, cancer-causing fumes mixing with the air we breathed inside. Not to mention that pesticides have been linked with ADHD in children. Though I didn’t know this at the time we bought our house, it seemed common sense to me to avoid them.
I don’t need a scientific study to tell me that chemicals and children shouldn’t mix.
Weeds Can Be Beautiful
I love the mixture of weeds and grass that makes up my front yard. I even love the sandspurs. They have a place in my yard and my kids know to wear shoes in that area.
Do I try to get rid of them? Not a chance.
My front yard is predominantly one type of grass and my back yard is another type. Yeah and they look very different. Do I feel compelled to make everything uniform? Not in the slightest. If it’s green and it grows, I’m good with it.
I have never put down any pesticides or chemicals of any kind on my yard in the 25+ years we’ve lived here.
I love that my children can run barefoot on it and that when they were toddlers, they could eat the dirt, leaves, and grass without danger (toddlers eat dirt for a reason, by the way. It primes their immune system and leaves them healthier as adults).
Not only haven’t I ever sprayed my yard, but I’ve also never watered it either. Why? If there is no rain, a yard should die and turn brown.
I consider this a welcome relief from mowing and other yard duties. I hate thirsty lawns that suck up water by the hundreds of gallons. It is such a waste to me and a clear testament to the unsustainable living mentality of Americans in general.
A green lawn during the dry season is weird. It’s not only not natural, it’s downright distasteful. My brown yard comes back beautiful and green when the rains return. Do I need to resod or reseed? Of course not. Nature knows what to do. It’s only chemicalized perfect lawns that have trouble during and after droughts.
I’m thinking about lawns right now because my Mom is preparing to completely resod her entire (and very large) yard at the moment. The dirt had finally had enough abuse over the years and even the extreme treatments of lawn maintenance companies could not bring it back.
The soil was basically so dead nothing would grow in it anymore.
So, thousands of dollars are now required to completely resod the whole thing!
I am very happy to report that my Mom is open to using one of the new organic lawn services that have become more widespread in my community in recent years once her new lawn is laid. You go Mom!
One step at a time, though.
Maybe someday I can convince her to turn off those sprinklers and love the weeds as much as the grass!
I must say that I wonder where some of you live. I used to live in Tn and we didn’t do anything to our yard and it was great to walk on, green all over- a mixture of grass, clover and weeds but unless you looked closely it just looked green and was no problem to be barefoot or let my babies and toddlers crawl around. Now I live in Idaho and for the moment we don’t do anything to our yard here either and it looks and feels horrible. It is painful to walk on and ugly to look at. It is very dry and with lots of bare spots, dandelions, thistles, and other random weeds; I’m not sure there is a blade of grass on it. I spent all last summer being vigilant about pulling weeds by hand because I don’t want to spray round-up all over it but I have to admit that it was pretty discouraging. It didn’t look like I was even trying and I was never able to conquer the dandelions (which grow extra large and hearty out here) and the thistles are becoming a real problem where you can’t even walk outside without wearing long pants and close toe shoes. A new perspective for sure.
I am in the high desert of So. Cal. There are very few lawns in our neighborhoods because of the drought. There are beautifully landscaped yards but few lawns. I miss the green, a lot. I remember telling a fussy friend that she could see the weeds or the flowers at my house, her choice. I see the flowers.
I love this post! It’s exactly how I feel. We bought a house last year here in FL with a huge back yard; my kids love it and will play all day out there. However, because I refuse to spray or fertilize, the lawn is almost dead (I was told chinch bugs took over) and fire ants have moved in. They multiplied so quickly, and now my kids won’t go outside because they’ve been bitten so many times. Any suggestions? We were thinking of a green-certified pest control company, but we don’t know who to trust/what to look for.
Sarah Pope MGA
Here’s how to deal with the fire ants. https://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/natural-fire-ant-killer-that-works-fast/
We sprayed nematodes all over our yard when we first moved in (one spray) and that has taken care of things for over 25 years. I don’t know what company to suggest if you are looking for a green certified company.
@Leonard Smith I understand that you’re just ranting and getting a little bit of anger off your chest, but have you considered that your neighbors are doing things the way they were raised/ taught to do them? Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand and agree with your wish that everyone would read articles like this and start to care more about their neighbors and their environment than they do about themselves, but at the risk of sounding like a hippie, anger isn’t going to solve the problem. For all you know, they had parents like the one in the article and grew up thinking that’s just how things are. You’re never going to change anything- especially people- if you go around shouting at everyone that they’re wrong. Education is the most important factor for sustainable change. You have knowledge to share. If your next-doors don’t want to hear it, make friends with the rest of the neighbourhood and share your knowledge with them until the Joneses start keeping up with you. The trick with assholes is to make them think it was their idea. Good luck with your neighbors.
besides, I’ll bet they consider themselves stewards of the earth, supportive of bees and other “natural” inhabitants. One of the supports we asked of people looking at a bee display at farmers markets, etc., is to stop spraying dandelions – they are the first food for a lot of bees,. I’ve had some stuffy folks who “just can’t have lawns with those weeds” and I shrug and say, okay, keep killing bees. And boy do they leave huffing and puffing – while those standing around nod and/or say, huh I never thought of that. I’ll leave some dandelions for the bees next spring.
Good point! Lots of dandelions in the spring in my yard, I can tell you 😉
Fist bump. I hear your anger, and I feel a lot of the same things you do. My yard is natural, too, and people often stop to complement the flowers. My neighbors, who constantly have lawn crews over, actually had their people dump their lawn clippings and leaves ON OUR LAWN until I flagged then down, furious, and told them not to. They also throw parties a lot, and would just direct their guests to park their giant suvs on the side of our yard. Until one party when I got furious and stuck no parking signs all over the yard that I left up for a few weeks til I figured maybe they got the point. I HATE their sense of entitlement. I’ve been nothing but kind, and they still act like it’s their block, were just taking up space on it.
I live right between two lawn-spraying idiots that might as well just put down green carpet. No trees or anything! Just short chemical-induced grass.
I have never and will never spray anything on in my yard, and I probably only mow once a month. My yard looks so much better throughout the year than both of their “lawns” and I can literally feel the hate from both of them when they look at my yard.
The grass and various plants at the outer edge of my yard actually show signs of the poisons leeching over from the neighbors chemical cesspools. I feel bad for the front line grass soldiers of my yard, fighting to keep back the mutant hordes of poisonous neighbor lawn-ites.
It should be illegal.
Glad i found this article. I mow lawns as a Gig, and its pretty fun at times. But most of the time, when the job doesnt go right, I get really really mad. especially how the leaves would blow back onto the lawn or how it takes too long to mow. I hope this article can help me quit this lawn care madness.
Beautiful article. Now if I could only get my prestigious prick millionaire McMansion neighbors to read it they might just understand where I’m coming from.
My yard is pretty much all-natural. There are things growing all over it, weeds partially, ground coverings of all sorts, green fuzz moss, you name it. My local wildlife love it and that’s all that counts. In the summer, when it starts getting a bit tall especially around the edges, I’ll take my old push mower out and trim it. Typically once a month.
There’s no fertilizers here. No need to water anything. Nature takes care of it.
My new neighbors who’ve raped my town with their Right Wing Authoritarianism (circa 2000 A.D.) battle one another for The perfect lawn. No, they don’t take pride in it like some of the old timers do. They’re Above lawn work as that’s for working class Peasants and they think of themselves as Lords. The result? Hired landscaping service trailers Everywhere. You have to dodge around them when you’re driving. Every Day there’s one near my home with their crew of dimwits leaping around with noisy diesel-powered backpacks spewing fumes and keeping me awake! Apparently it takes 3 to 6 of these uneducated bozos to blow a few leaves on a lawn, and another trio to ride some mower machine around across a postage-stamp-sized piece of turf! Hours are spent with this crap. If not one neighbor then another. Every Week each neighbor has this service performed. How short can they cut grass? Does every frigging Leaf have to be blown? And when the wind comes they get blown back anyway!
Lawns to my neighbors are apparently penis extensions now, they go very nicely with their collection of luxury cars and their gaudy tomb-like McMansions from hell.
I’m just about the only holdout who doesn’t try to play their game and match them with the lawn insanity. They look down upon me as some cheap, lazy, poor, careless, vile loser for it. And they litter on my property too since there’s no place else to dump their trash and they figure I won’t mind!
I wish they’d read this article I’d wish they’d learn about the Anti-Lawn Movement.
But they know they’re Better than me so they don’t have to.