The Benefits of Eco-Friendly Lawn Care: Good for You and for the Planet

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This article has been written and reviewed for legal accuracy and clarity by Tort Defenders’ writers and staff and is as accurate as possible. This content should not be taken as legal advice from an attorney.

Eco-friendly lawn care involves caring for your grass, plants, and landscaping without chemicals. Instead, you create a healthy lawn with natural fertilizers, native plants, and techniques that reduce unwanted weeds or pests. 

In the long term, an eco-friendly lawn with native grasses and plants may be easier to care for and more resistant to climate fluctuations. Also, it is more sustainable and does not rely on chemicals which can be dangerous to humans. Scientific studies have linked glyphosate, a common ingredient in weed killers, to cancers like lymphoma

Though eco-friendly lawn care can be healthier for you, your family, and the environment, it requires careful planning and steps that are different from traditional lawn care. Here’s a look at how to maintain a healthy lawn without chemicals. 

Strategies for Eco-Friendly Lawn Care

Eco-friendly lawn care requires careful planning, hands-on work, and, in many cases, persistence. You may need to plant different grass species, change your mowing habits, and remove stubborn weeds manually. In some instances, you might need to find an alternative to traditional grass. 

The rewards of this effort can include avoiding toxic or carcinogenic chemicals that can harm your health and the environment. 

Here are the three top strategies for eco-friendly lawn care. 

Reducing Chemical Use

One of the primary reasons to switch to an eco-friendly lawn is to reduce the reliance on dangerous chemicals. While there is a debate on the effects of herbicides like Roundup, suits related to cancers potentially caused by the product are currently in courts, and claims related to Roundup continue to be filed around the country. 

There are numerous strategies to remove weeds and fertilize grasses naturally. Though you can expect to do manual weed pulling if you have a chemical-free lawn, you can also use steps like keeping grass longer to discourage weed growth. 

Mulch and wood chips can also stop weeds from growing at the edges of the lawn or in flower beds. You can also use companion planting strategies, which focus on planting two or plant species that support each other’s growth. 

Finally, you can consider natural fertilizers to change the makeup of your soil and promote the natural growth of grasses. These include compost, grass clippings, manure, wood ash, or organic pulps. 

Choosing Native Plants

Native plants bring several advantages. First, they thrive in the local environment with limited care, so you can enjoy them with limited watering and maintenance. 

These plants are often an important part of the local ecosystem, supporting the lives of other plants and animals. This dynamic is most obvious with pollinators, which support insect populations. These plants can also often resist alien species, such as weeds or decorative plants that encroach from neighboring properties or try to seed on your property. 

You can select native plants that meet your landscape design plants. However, you need to ensure that they thrive naturally in the place where you plant them. Native plants can survive in local conditions, but many require specific settings. For example, some may thrive in partial shade, while others may need full sunshine throughout the day. 

Embracing Lawn Alternatives

Lawns are the traditional choice for landscaping around residential properties, but they are not the only option. You can choose a grass alternative that is more weed-resistant and requires less care. Here are some of the most common alternatives. 

  • Xeriscaping is an option for any region, but it is especially popular in dry climates. It relies on native plants, paving stones, mulch, rocks, and other landscaping features. The goal is to create an environment that does not require watering or maintenance. 
  • Clover, also known as trefoil, is a low-growing plant that flowers once per year. It can serve as an alternative to grass and is attractive in some climates because it is drought-resistant and does not require moving. You can seed it like grass and lay down more seed in the autumn to thicken it. 
  • Moss gardens thrive in moist and shady areas. Moss is a ground cover plant that spreads across the ground using spores. It can cover a large area and keep other plants from growing. Though it can’t handle the same amount of foot traffic as grass, it remains green and does not require trimming. 

You can also consider other forms of hardy, ground-cover plants. These options can vary by region and might include creeping thyme, sedge, and sedum. 

The Role of Composting in Eco-Friendly Lawn Care

Composting can help you create organic fertilizer that benefits your lawn and landscaping. The organic material in compost is chemical-free, but it can help balance the pH in the soil. This ensures the right amount of acidity in the soil for plants and grasses to grow. 

Compost can attract earthworms and microorganisms, which aerate the soil and naturally increase its nutrients. It also helps with water retention, decreasing the need for irrigation. 

You can compost grass clippings and flower trimmings, combined with food waste like fruit and vegetable peels, used tea and coffee, grains, and egg shells. However, you should not compost meat or dairy products. 

You put this mixture in a pile and then turn it over weekly for several months. You can mix in paper, cardboard, or sawdust if the mixture gets too wet and begins to smell. 

Implementing a Sustainable Watering Routine

Watering routines vary depending on your plant choices. Xeriscaping and native plant lawns need little irrigation. However, some plants will need watering. You can conserve water as much as possible by using drip hoses that slowly release water at ground level to limit evaporation

Another strategy is to only water at night or in the morning so that the water has time to soak into the soil before evaporating. 

A rainwater collection system, perhaps combined with drip irrigation hoses, can limit your reliance on your water supply for lawn care. 

Encouraging Wildlife and Beneficial Insects

Plants use pollination to reproduce themselves. This process requires pollinators like bees and other insects. They carry pollen from plant to plant, allowing the plants to spread. 

You can add plants that attract these beneficial insects to your landscaping. Other creatures, like spiders and ladybugs feed on insects like aphids, which eat leafy plants. Certain bird species eat certain types of caterpillars that likewise chew on your landscaping plants. 

You can create habitats, such as “bug hotels,” that consist of piles of twigs in semi-sheltered areas, or birdhouses that attract pest-eating avian species.  

Getting Started With Eco-Friendly Lawn Care

Eco-friendly lawn care is not an all-or-nothing proposition. You can start by adding xeriscaping or alternative ground cover to a portion of your lawn and expand it over time.

Some native plants may require care for the first being planted but grow without additional maintenance once established. You can shift your focus to new areas and gradually expand until your whole property has low-maintenance, eco-friendly features that thrive with minimal watering and natural fertilizers like compost. 

With careful planning and persistence, you can build an eco-friendly landscape around your home. The right choices for plants and grass and proper chemical-free care techniques can leave you with a healthy, natural lawn.

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