Summer is officially here. For many Americans, that means blankets of grassy green for kids to play in. There are an estimated 40 million to 50 million acres of lawn in the continental United States — that’s nearly as much as all of the country’s national parks combined. In 2020, Americans spent $105 billion keeping their lawns verdant and neat.
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It was a few minutes past 6 a.m., and the sun had already started to boil the muggy Alabama air. Matt Harrison, 38, watched as his colleague backed the public works pickup truck into a parking spot alongside city hall. The two tipped the tailgate and slowly lowered a shiny orange push mower onto the pavement.
A teacher at a school in a prosperous part of Washington D.C., writing from his official school email account and saying that he was a mentor for the school’s future-entrepreneurs program, wrote with two concerns about the District’s impending phase-out of gas-powered leafblowers.
In the rush to swap gas for batteries on everything from cars and delivery trucks to boats and golf carts, lawn mowers don’t get much attention. But the traditional gas-powered versions that many people will soon use to get their yards ready for summer can actually be worse for the environment than cars. Running the top-selling traditional gas-powered lawn mower for an hour releases as much smog-forming pollution as driving a 2016 Toyota Camry from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, according to the California Air Resources Board, a state agency formed in 1967 to work on ways to protect communities from air pollution. Operating the most popular leaf blower for an hour is roughly equivalent to taking a 1,100-mile jaunt to Denver from L.A. — a 15 hour-plus journey.
We at The Optimist Daily are always looking for ways to help our pollinator friends. If you are looking to plant a pollinator-friendly garden this spring, then a new study led by Jaret Daniels and Elizabeth Braatz can help! Their research indicates that insects are attracted to landscapes where flowering plants of the same species are grouped together.
Environmentally-friendly gardening, once considered on the fringe, has surged in interest in the pandemic, according to Mark Richardson, director of horticulture for the Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston. Richardson sees the trend in the sold-out tickets to the garden this month, and in the blossoming membership in the Ecological Landscape Alliance, which promotes eco-friendly gardening.
People who live along the Atlantic seaboard are accustomed to dealing with environmental extremes: salt spray that can kill just about anything green; relentless wind that whips vegetation into Leaning Tower of Pisa shapes; sand, shells, rocks and dead fish that come and go.
Kids and pets will soon be able to play in the grass at some of the country’s largest parks without being exposed to pesticides. Yogurt company Stonyfield Organic is continuing a major initiative to convert parks and playing fields nationwide into organic grounds. The recent effort includes Central Park in New York City, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and Grant Park in Chicago. The company is working with a coalition of organization to pass a bill to allow the transition to take place in New York City parks.
Those who are interested in permaculture and regenerative gardening may be well aware of the benefits — both local and global — of maximizing photosynthesis in a garden. The more plants we include in our spaces, and the greater the number of beneficial interactions between them and the wildlife in the ecosystem, the better.