Will Your Love of Lawns Be Requited?
One surprising statistic about first-time home buyers is what they put as the number one priority: Not energy efficiency. Not affordability. It’s having a nice lawn!
According to landscapers, a lush lawn is more important than a renovated kitchen. Before you get too excited about that Frisbee-friendly turf, think about how you really use outdoor space now. No question that having access to nature ranks high in importance, both for our mental health and physical well being. Books have been written on this topic.
Before you get too giddy about a house with a big lawn, however, consider how you want to spend your time (or money equivalent). As one columnist for the Chicago Tribune put it, lawns can become a “soul-crushing time suck, and most of us would be better off without them.”
Lawn mowing, for many people, is their least favorite chore. And if you live in a neighborhood governed by subdivision rules, you may be required to maintain it at a certain length. So when you decide to travel abroad for six months, your lawn maintenance will drag along behind you.
Lawns not only suck time, they also suck money and resources, starting with the cost of maintaining and operating mowers and weed whackers, along with irrigation, in the form of thousands of gallons of treated water (in the U.S., lawn water is the same as household water, treated to drinkable standards). You’ll also need some form of fertilizer (preferably organic) to keep the lawn looking green and healthy.
Many of your neighbors will also use pesticides and herbicides on their lawns, but we recommend neither. They’re extremely harmful to other life and frankly, unnecessary.
Instead of pining for a lawn at your new digs, think about your best use for outdoor space. How about a lawn-free outdoor patio, surrounded by perennial ferns and flowers? Or if you’re in an arid region, a “xeriscape” of native plants that requires little water or maintenance? If you want just a small lawn to stretch out in or have an occasional picnic, why not look at some artificial turf? That might not sound like a sustainable choice, but faux lawns now include eco-friendly brands made from recycled plastic. These “forever” lawns require no watering, no chemicals and minimal maintenance.
Get more tips on how to create sustainable outdoor spaces by downloading Green Builder’s free Outdoor Living Guide.