Are Lawns Adding to Global Warming?

January 24, 2010

From the pro-lawn camp, I often hear the argument that lawns are good for the environment because they help remove Carbon Dioxide from the environment.

Thyme is a lovely, dog-friendly lawn alternative

Thyme is a lovely, dog-friendly lawn alternative

That they remove it may be true, but as I read today, it may turn out that the input costs in maintaining a lawn (or even worse, a turfgrass space) may actually cost the environment more than it gives back. And, really, there are other options to the traditional, water-hog, nutrient hog swath of grassy greenness that so many of us picture as an irreplaceable part of the American landscape.

I encourage you to take a moment to consider what your input of traditional lawn fertilizer might do this spring — or any other time. Perhaps this year you’ll choose to remove the lawn altogether, seed with eco-turf mixes that self-feed your meadow-like lawn or opt for truly natural, organic methods for keeping your lawn healthy. Remember, the cost of that cheap bag of weed ‘n feed type turf builder that seems to make your lawn so perfect so easily is quite likely much higher than you think when you check out at the store.

Read more about maintaining your safe lawn here.


  1. disinter says:

    Probably not, considering the earth has been cooling for what? 10 years now?

  2. Bruce says:

    Can you recommend a durable eco-turf? I have 2 shelties who have destroyed my turf lawn and I need to find a good replacement this year.


  3. rhaglund says:

    Bruce, most eco-turfs are sold as seed blends, so when you seed it, you’ll need to keep the dogs off of it until it gets established. Not knowing where you are makes it difficult to suggest a source. Try contacting a high end nursery near you to see if they sell a seed blend for your area. Or you might call Hobbes and Hopkins in Oregon to see if their blends will work for your location:

    Thanks for writing in and keep having fun in the garden!

  4. Bruce says:

    Robin, sorry about that I forget sometimes that “local” blogs can reach way beyond.

    I am in nearby Kent. So a doug fir-shaded, small side yard that this time of year stays very damp and even though I bought high traffic seed, the dear little dogs, with their trail running nature, have pretty much destroyed all remnants of anything living.

    Thanks for the link, I sent them my question as well.

  5. Willi says:

    You’re right. Conventional lawn care is so bad for the environment. Mowers produce more smog emissions than cars on certain days in summer. It’s horrible.

    That said, people do love lawns so I’m always interested in thinking about ways to make them more sustainable. For instance, there are some new eco-mixes in different regions of the country that have roots that grow more than 3 feet deep, so they need less water. And electric mowers produce less emissions. And of course compost is the best lawn fertilizer. Also, sometimes people like to have lawns for kids and dogs, but it doesn’t make any sense to have those lawns in their front yards that are unfenced! I think lawns need to shrink, be watered minimally in summer, mowed with electric or push mowers, fertilized with compost, and be limited to backyards.

    Thanks so much for posting about this! I think the only way to move towards less lawn and sustainable lawn is to get people thinking about the impact of something that looks so benign: green, weed-free grass.

  6. Jennifer says:

    I have been reading a lot about Eco Turf lately. I would love to see someone/someplace that actually uses this. Do you know of anyplace in the Puget Sound area that has an Eco Turf lawn so I can drive by and look? Also, has research in the last few years proven that this is still something that is a good alternative to the regular lawn? -Thanks

  7. […] to remove phosphorus from lawn fertilizers. I’ve shared information suggesting that lawns may actually adding to global warming. And, of course, I’ve also offered ways to remove your lawn with minimal effort. Today, […]

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