The Modern Lawn Contributes to Climate Change

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 by: Heather Havey
Tags: climate change, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) Americans love to have a healthy and beautiful yard. They have adopted and accepted a concept of beauty known as the "lawn." Many people believe that an expanse of short-trimmed grass-covered land is the most desirable look to have in one`s yard. This may include an occasional shrub or tree to add uniqueness and "diversity." Home-owners can help combat climate change by considering more diverse options for their own yards.

Yards can support green living and biological diversity, or yards can support climate change

In this time of global climate change, humans must consider the effects of all choices on the Earth. One`s yard offers an important opportunity to make a difference as an individual. So let`s ask the question: "Does my yard promote biological diversity as well as healthy water and soil and air?" Upon first consideration it may seem like everything is just fine. The reality is, however, that most people may not know the true, long-lasting effects of choices that have long been accepted as safe or healthy.

Climate change is real and is getting worse

Climate change has led to such phenomena as:
* a hotter and drier planet
* loss of forests, trees, plants, animals, and ground covers
* depletion of soil health and minerals from using chemicals, over-farming, and mowing
* loss of usable fresh water from both pollution and over-consumption
* drying out of the soil layers as water tables lower and rain patterns change
* loss of biological diversity including birds, bees, worms, insects, and much more
* mass extinction of many of Earth`s species - forever
* storm patterns and fires increasing in number and intensity

Some prevalent causes of climate change include:
* unsustainable production processes
* unsustainable and inhumane agricultural practices
* unconscious and wasteful consumption habits
* unchecked use of and dependence on fossil fuels
* unquestioned use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides
* unquestioned use of chemical cleansers and other chemicals
* rapid and rampant deforestation (including in individual`s lawns and developing neighborhoods)

Each individual impacts the overall world balance. Every individual choice tips the balance in favor of Earth health or Earth destruction. This includes diet, transportation, use of resources, recycling, and so on. A big factor on this list also is one`s yard.

The "lawn" as we know it is unsustainable and harmful

An expanse of lawn can be lovely. However, its maintenance encourages pollutive practices:
* weekly mowing
* periodic chemical application of pesticides or fertilizers
* regular watering
* removal of trees or shrubs that may hinder ability to mow

Also, the lawn has long-term effects that encourage climate change and global warming. The lawn:
* dries out the topsoil layers, which also dries out the grass
* does not hold in water or coolness well
* space taken by grass prevents trees, shrubs, flowers, fruits and vegetables that would hold in moisture, re-mineralize the soil, and support birds, bees, and other life
* prevents sufficient biological diversity because there is no habitat for life to live in
* kills biological diversity because chemicals are designed to kill, and they do not know when to stop killing.

The overall effect of this is the transformation of Earth from a lush, diverse, abundant ground cover that protects and sustains us into a dried-out, burned-out, chemically-maintained, wildlife-killing wasteland. This look is currently seen as desirable and "beautiful." This "lawn" concept is promoting a hot, burned-out, poisoned world that lacks biological diversity.

Lawn is only one concept of beauty; there are many others that are lovelier and more sustainable.

There are incredible, beautiful alternatives to the modern "lawn."

One possibility is to fill one`s yard with trees, shrubs, flowers, plants, and trees. Choose local and native species that thrive in the conditions of the area. This will limit the need for maintenance or watering. Chemicals are unnecessary if plants are chosen well. A diverse yard like this will encourage many more birds, butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects and animals.

Another option in addition is to grow food-bearing trees, shrubs, and plants in your yard. Combine flower beds with fruit trees and vegetable beds. Blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry bushes grow well in quite a few regions. Also in every region certain nut trees and fruit trees will grow well. Grape vines look lovely draped around a terraced porch. Many plants can even be grown in decorative pots. Pepper plants, for example, grow very well and produce many peppers. They look very lovely even inside your home.

A third way to help the Earth is to put bird houses and bathhouses among the trees. Feed birds organic birdseed. Grow sunflowers, which are lovely and produce many sunflower seeds for oneself and the birds.

Also buy eggs from a local farmer who raises them in a healthy and humane fashion. This choice ensures that one does not support animal torture or encourage development of new strains of bird flus, whose source have been linked in the past to inhumane mass farming practices.

Buy honey from local beekeepers. The bees suffer en masse from colony collapse disorder, which has been linked to both a mite and also the use of pesticides. All honeybees may soon go extinct if we do not protect them. Build a bee box and raise bees at home.

Collect food remains, mix them with soil and leaves and paper, let them decay, and spread these around the yard.

Other simple, helpful choices can include:
* plant trees every week
* plant every avocado, citrus, fruit, or nut seed from eaten foods
* give living gifts (plants and trees)
* become a guerrilla gardener (randomly plant flowers and trees in places, to help Earth and spread beauty).

What are the advantages of filling one`s yard with trees, plants, shrubs, bird houses, bathhouses, and bee boxes?

Some of many advantages include:
* Beauty
* Create protective habitat to protect dwindling bird, butterfly, bee, insect populations
* Promote wildlife diversity and survival
* Trees and plants hold in the moisture
* Trees and plants cool down the land
* Watering will be less needed
* Chemical applications will be unneeded
* Fertilizers will be unneeded
* Trees help soil to retain rain water as ground water, allowing it to linger longer in the soil for plants
* Cooling and moisturizing one`s own yard helps to counteract the devastating heating and drying of the Earth that is happening as we remove its groundcovers

Pesticides and herbicides are familiar but are not necessary

Do not trust chemicals. They were not used throughout history until the 20th century. They have an occasional beneficial need but for the most part they are simply unnecessary. Beyond this, they are very harmful. The famous bumper sticker says, "Pesticides are designed to kill, and they do not know when to stop killing."

Eat, farm, garden, and live organically.

One final choice that will greatly benefit Earth and one`s own health is the non-negotiable adoption of a natural, chemical-free lifestyle. Chemicals, again, are simply unnecessary. Nature provides everything that humans and animals need for health and well-being. Education and healthy choices are the keys.

Final thought

As our nation develops, our country is being covered by homes as well as shopping centers, business districts, and road systems. The world once was totally covered with trees, wild ground covers, and endless diverse forms of wildlife. People are removing nearly all of it through "development." The world humans are creating is the world that we see in all of our yards. At this moment, this means: very little diversity, nutrient-poor soil, no insects, virtually no habitat for birds or other animals, and an abundance of pesticide, herbicide, and chemical fertilizer. This does not provide us with oxygen, food, moist soils, moisture in the air, coolness from trees, biological diversity, health, or as much beauty. It leaves our Earth much hotter, drier, and exposed to potential further harm. There is very little room for sustainability, thriving of life on Earth, or a healthy future in what Americans currently prefer as "the perfect lawn."

The choice to transform the lawn into a vibrant, diverse, food-bearing, life-supporting garden is a choice that adds beauty, helps Earth, and helps each family. These choices honor the diversity, strength, and healing nature of Earth.

3. Taylor, Donald W. Fundamentals of Soil Mechanics. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., NY: 1948.

About the author

Heather Havey, M.A., is a naturalist, organic farmer, & holistic health practitioner. She is the author of many books, including Reflections for Radiant Living, The Craving Book, and others. Her websites, found at, offer recipes, ecards, books/gifts, & diy/giy meant to inspire your peace, health, & joy. Since 1998, she has helped thousands of people around the world. She offers spiritual, nutrition, fitness, farming, or personal guidance. You can reach her at
Heather Havey invites you: love Earth, grow your own food, heal the soil, and plant trees. Make your yard a wildlife habitat and organic garden rather than a mower-dependent, chemically-maintained lawn. The world is enhanced by your care and beauty.

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