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Post new topic   Reply to topic    Irish Gardeners Forum Home -> Organic gardening in Ireland / Alternative and Sustainable Gardening practices

Your Lawn Might Not Be As Green As You Think

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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2007 1:02 pm    Post subject: Your Lawn Might Not Be As Green As You Think Reply with quote

Your Lawn Might Not Be As Green As You Think
By Tracy Falbe

Most people do not regard their lawns as a source of greenhouse gas emissions. Grass gives off oxygen right? Of course it does, but if you are engaging in chemical lawn care practices, then you are causing a shocking amount of carbon dioxide to be spewed into our atmosphere.

The primary culprit is synthetic fertilizer. To flourish grass needs nitrogen, which many individuals and lawn maintenance companies choose to apply with a synthetic mix of nitrogen and hydrogen. "The Organic Lawn Care Manual" by Paul Tukey reports that synthetic nitrogen fertilizer is produced under very high pressure and temperatures that range from 750 degrees Fahrenheit to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. To create such heat, fossil fuels are burned, typically natural gas. Tukey's book goes on to provide research from Dr. David Pimentel of Cornell University that found that approximately 33,000 cubic feet of natural gas are used to manufacturer one ton of nitrogen fertilizer. This figure is equivalent to the natural gas usage of the typical American home for six months.

In addition to the high energy consumption during the manufacturing of the synthetic fertilizer, consider the gasoline used by people to mow the grass. "The Organic Lawn Care Manual" states that the average homeowner uses 18 gallons of petrol for lawn maintenance every year. That is not very much gasoline for the individual, but multiply that figure by millions and it is a lot of gasoline being burned. With the ominous rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, every source of pollution needs to be reevaluated. Admittedly some mechanical lawn care is necessary but tiny postage stamp suburban lawns could easily be maintained with motor-less reel lawnmowers that have blades that spin as you push them. They are quieter too and do not force you to breathe toxic exhaust as you mow. Electric lawnmowers are also available that use energy more efficiently than gas-powered mowers and they also do not put exhaust in your face.

Another polluting aspect of chemical lawn care is the "weed" part of the weed-killer and fertilizer combination provided by many products. The National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides provides many disturbing facts at its website about the toxicity of weed killing chemicals.

Here are some examples of the hazards identified by studies that result from weed killing agents in lawn care products:

* The Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported that home and garden pesticide use can raise the risk of childhood leukemia by nearly seven times.
* Dogs that live on herbicide-treated lawns have twice the chance of developing canine lymphoma.
* Studies, including EPA studies, show that out of 30 common lawn pesticides 19 are potentially cancer causing, 13 are linked to birth defects, 21 have negative reproductive effects, and the list of hazards go on.

All of this disturbing information points to the fact that it is easy to not realize the impact and harm that can come from daily activities. Many people enjoy taking care of their lawns and take great pride in them. However, to avoid poisoning yourself, your children, your pets, and everything else, you need to adopt a friendlier, as in organic, approach to lawn care. The pervasive and polluting influence of the petrochemical industry does not stop in the driveway with your car. Its in your garden too, but it is easy to stop polluting your garden. Just switch your mindset and tell yourself that a few weeds are a sign of good health.

More information about the destructive force of our pollution-based fossil fuel civilization and global warming is available at along with 10 tips to reduce carbon emissions.

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