“No dear but I raked the rocks.” This is a conversation I am finally ready to have. Spring has sprung and I am facing yet another year of mowing the yard. I thought I mowed it correctly last week but here I am doing it over again this week! Did I do something wrong? What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.
A beautiful, lush landscape can be gorgeous but sometimes I wonder if it is worth it. In a report by The Virginia Cooperative Extension, working in and around landscapes can actually improve the quality of life, help lower crime and increase productivity. However these benefits can come with a cost. Turf grass must be mowed, fertilized, treated for weeds and insects. Most shrubs need repetitive pruning and annual flowers continually replaced, but most costly can be the irrigation required to sustain a lush landscape.
The EPA reports that In the United States over 26 billion gallons of water are consumed each day. Over 30% or 7.8 million gallons is for outdoor usage. The majority of this outdoor usage is for our landscapes and it’s clear we each pay a hefty price tag for this natural beauty. Don’t get me wrong I’m not out to eliminate all landscape. Heck, I’ve made a good living for over 30 years and sent my kids to college “mowing grass”. However, I do believe we can be smarter about our landscapes and their economic, as well as, environmental impact.
Recent drought conditions, magnified by shrinking water resources have forced many areas of the country to “rethink” their landscapes. Regions such as Texas, Colorado, Southern California and Arizona are leading the way in seeking more sustainable landscapes. Many times this quest leads to less or in some cases, no turf grass.
Removal of turf grass in parking lot islands and opting for hardscapes such as decomposed granite or river rock is increasing in popularity. Reclamation of expansive manicured lawns in favor of native wildflowers is catching on, as well, incorporation of perennial plantings versus seasonal annuals. InTexas, J.C. Penney’s has saved tens of thousands of dollars annually, at their corporate headquarters campus, by converting acres of high-maintenance turf into beautiful wildflower meadows. Additionally, this conversion has greatly reduced the amount of irrigation water usage, green waste and carbon emissions generated from the site.
These “new” sustainable landscapes require a fraction of the water compared to traditional plantings. In addition to saving water resources, in many incidences, they require much less care. Some city governments, such as San Diego California, are actually paying residents to eliminate turf grass. This means while “going green” you may be saving some green and putting more than good karma to your bottom line.
While I’m not ready to completely give up on my yard, I am going to begin to remove the non- native plantings, reclaim sections of grass in favor of hardscapes and install perennial instead of annual color. This will help save water, reduce landfill waste and give me some extra, weekend time. With baseball season in full swing, that will come in handy. “Yes Honey, I’m done with the yard!” Now that’s some good karma!