lawn.jpgMom got me this book for my birthday: Redesigning the American Lawn – A Search for Environmental Harmony off my Amazon Wish List (actually something I was storing to buy for Troy, our household Caretaker Willie). I tells ya, Yale press puts out some quality paperback – nice stock, good font, sexy cover, lots of quality photos, etc. The content was a little lacking in what I was seeking: actual solutions for keeping a natural yard. That said, I learned a few nuggets… Before EPA new emissions standards for lawnmowers manufactured after September 1997, “in the one hour it takes to mow a lawn, the power lawn mower emits pollutants equivalent to driving 350 miles.”

“Yard waste is the second largest component of the waste stream; three-quarters of yeard waste is grass clippings from our lawns. Clippings generally get bagged in large polyurethane or paper bags and find their way to the curb on garbage day.” … Not only are our landfillings filling quickly, but this practice is bad for serveral other reasons: Clippings should not be considered waste. Removal of clippings may result in a loss of up to 100 pounds of nitrogen per acre of lawn per year. An additional problem is that decomposing lawn wastes in landfills can produce methane, one of the most powerful greenhouse gases…. Pesticide-laden grass clipping also interfer with the process of biological decomposition that would otherwise help to break down our garbage, thereby adding to the rapidity with which we fill up our solid waste dumps.

“Clover has a microorganism that lives in close association with its roots. This microorganism takes nitrogen from the air and converts it to a form that the clover can use. When the clover dies or loses plant parts, nitrogen is added to the soil, where both grass and clover can use it again. This unique arrangement reduced the need for nitrogen fertilizers. Clover also has attractive white flowers, its roots bind the soil, and it can live in harmony with the grass. “You might ask why this wonder plan tis not a more widely accepted component of today’s lawn. Several decades ago, clovers was a part of most American lawns. Although some people have never appreciated its bee-attracting flowers, clover officially went out of style when a large seed and chemical company launced a campaign agains clover in the lawn. …

“Longer grass blades act to shade teh soil and to reduce evaporation and root stress. Longer greass usually means deeper, more efficient roots that can better withstand drought and disease. … Because rotary mowers tend to rip the blades, which increases water loss, it is a good idea to keep you rotary blade sharp. Frequent sharpening and balancing of your mower blad can reduce fuel consumption by as much as 22 percent. …

“Most homeowners apply twice as much water as lawns need. …Frequent light watering will produce shallow roots, making the plant highly susceptible to drought. Less frequent but deep watering produces deep roots that are able to withstand modest drought.”