Disadvantages of growing grass

Having a nice lawn surrounding your house not only improves the quality of your life, but also improves the value of your home and helps ecologically by filtering the air and water that passes through it. But these benefits do have a cost associated with them.

  • It needs to be cut on a regular basis. A healthy lawn is one with a good root system which is further developed through regular mowing's at the proper height and frequency. Un-mown grass is also an invitation for ticks which can transmit serious diseases. If you do-it-yourself, then mowing involves time and physical exertion, not to mention the cost and maintenance of a lawn mower. Although lawn mowers have improved greatly over the last few decades in terms of safety, they still pose certain dangers if not handled properly. Lawn mowers are typically dirty and noisy, although there are some new battery-powered models that are whisper quiet and don't pollute on the neighborhood level.

  • To look good, a lawn needs a good balance of chemicals to survive. Grass plants have a large demand for certain chemicals such as nitrogen, to stay in top shape. Without regular and timely applications of properly balanced fertilizers that include special micro-nutrients, a lawn will lose it's vitality and decrease it's ability to withstand diseases and insect damage.

  • Lawns have a bad reputation as being a polluter of our streams and rivers. While excess nitrogen and phosphorus do cause waterway problems, the culprit is more likely comes from farming areas where large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus are applied to exposed soil in early spring, at a time when there is more likely to be heavy rains. The farm fields have nothing holding back the run-off and the applied nitrogen then works its way into our waterways.

    Lawns on the other hand, are typically thick with vegetation that does an excellent job of slowing or stopping excess water run-off. Besides stopping excess water run off, the lawn does in fact help filter water was it moves through the dense root zone of healthy lawns. In fact, in a recent 8-year study by the University of Florida on the movement of lawn fertilizers through the soil found that there is negligible percolation of commonly applied lawn fertilizers such as nitrogen and phosphorus beyond the root zone of a healthy lawn.

    Properly applied fertilizers at the correct rate have little or no excess run-off. The exception is when do-it-yourself homeowners apply too much fertilizer, or fail to clean up hard surface areas where fertilizer pellets may have been inadvertently applied which might result in excess run-off under the right conditions.

    But still, there is a stigma that has been attached to homeowner's with nice looking lawns. They might be seen as people that don't care about the environment, when in truth, the exact opposite is true.

  • Pesticides are probably the biggest disadvantage to owning a premium lawn. Pesticides can be harmful to all concerned and extreme care must be taken in it's use. Pesticides are best used in small doses and only as needed. Putting down weed-killer across the entire lawn when only a few weeds live out back isn't good. Spot treatment of weeds is preferred and if you don't mind an occasional dandelion, forget weed controls altogether. Crabgrass and other invasive weeds need to be controlled annually before they become a major problem that is expensive and time consuming to correct.

  • Pesticides can be harmful and shouldn't be taken lightly by homeowners just because they can buy the stuff at the local hardware store. Most insects are beneficial to our ecosystem and pose no threat to our lawns, yet many homeowners will kill-off everything in sight or out of sight just to get rid of the bugs. If not used and stored properly, pesticides can harm you, your children and your pets (even fatally).

    Professional lawn care applicators must be licensed by the state to apply pesticides and for good reason. To obtain a license they must have a good working knowledge of these chemicals including all of the precautions associated with them. The rate of application is also important. Homeowners typically over-apply pesticides and the results can be devastating.

  • Some lawns may also need supplemental watering's at various times throughout the year, but that can be greatly controlled by planting the right type of grass for specific geographic areas. Trying to put a lawn in locations that need to be watered daily is certainly not a good idea nor recommended.

  • There have been widely reported studies that relate how much water is required to irrigate America's lawns. However, those studies were based on a relatively small geographic region that does not receive regular rainfall during the active growing season and requires homeowners to provide supplemental irrigation to maintain their lawn. Typically, in lawns east of the Mississippi River, there is usually enough rainfall throughout the growing season to maintain the lawns without additional irrigation. On occasion droughts in specific geographic areas will require homeowners to use supplemental watering, but this the exception.

Each of these items may be considered disadvantages to having a lawn. Considering the alternatives though, a lawn is a pretty good choice and well worth the investment of time, effort and money.

Environmentally, a lawn more than pays for its upkeep by filtering our air and rain water, cooling our environment during the hot months and providing a pleasing background for everything else that goes on around our homes and parks.