Is your neighbor’s grass always greener? Thicker? More weed free? Does this make you think your neighbor’s grass is better than yours? It’s likely that I think about grass in a different way from some of you. I’m happy to see less of it (though I confess that I enjoy creating interesting lawn shapes in my landscape design work). And I prefer the look of grass that is less than perfect. Love to see lush, green clover. Some weeds are fine by me.
Why do I prefer less than perfect grass? Because it takes a lot of chemical inputs to get that perfect look. For the health of you, me and our environment, my way of looking at grass is the best way. However, for those of you who love a perfect lawn, my view isn’t likely to fly.
I wonder, though, could we meet in the middle?
At a recent conference, Gregg Munshaw, Turf Extension Specialist at the University of Kentucky, described three lawn care options:
Synthetic turf care requires “jacking up the lawn” on synthetic fertilizers, chemicals and pesticides, to use Munshaw’s very apt turn of phrase. The result is thick, very green turf.
Reduced care (or low input) lawn care means that some fertilizer would be used, with very little pesticide use and less frequent mowing. Reduced input care will result in a good looking lawn that is more environmentally friendly.
Organic lawn care uses organic inputs only. The turf will still look good though probably not such a “glowing green” (again I quote Munshaw), and there may well be some weeds.
So, what’s so wrong about synthetic turf care when the results – thick, green, weed-free turf – seem so desirable? Well, the side effects can be a poisoned ecosystem. A good deal of those chemical inputs end up washing into our streams and leaching into our groundwater. Also, conventional treatments are often based on timing, not on actual need. For example, Munshaw noted that many companies treat for grubs mid-summer even though this is often unnecessary.