Why Not Traditional Lanscaping

Some problems with traditional lanscaping are water pollution, air pollution, noisew pollution, consumption of our natural resources, produces solid waste, harmful to health and safety, declining biodeiversity, flooding, and to top it off it’s labor and cost intensive.

Homeowners over-apply pesticides and fertilizers often more than that of farmers. Additionaly people dump excess pesticides on the ground, in their drains, and/or in their trash rather than taking them to hazardous waste collection sites. Plus since turf has such a shallow roots and is a bad stabilizer for stream banks, so that heavy rains can result in bank erosion and stream silation. Added to that is the tens of millions of gallons of gasoline that are spilled each year while refueling garden equipment. Water pollution is increased with traditional gardening by:

  • extra applications, improper disposal and use of pesticides and fertilizers
  • contributing to erosion
  • spills during refueling of power equipment

Air pollution is contributed to by the operating and refueling of landscape equipment, vehiclesEmissions from landscape equipment (mowers, blowers, trimmers, etc.). These are often greater than that of a car per hour of operation. The most polluting are small gasoline-powered engines.
Noise Pollution is added to by the operation of the power equipment and vehicles need to maintain traditional lanscaping. How often have you been outside on a blissfully warm day only to have it ruined by a neighbor mowing their lawn? Some actual lanscaping equipment can actually lead to hearing impaiement.

Using up our limited supply of natural resources to have curb appeal is not the wisest action we could be doing. 30% of our water consumption in the urban areas of the eastern United States is to water lawns. Additional resources that are being consumed to improve our yards and gardens in traditional methods are:

  • the coal and gas needed to generate electricity and fuel our landscape equipment
  • the water used to irrigate plants
  • the soil that is lost through erosion
  • Use of peat moss, which often comes from wetlands, to amend soil

Adding grass clippings and leaves to our everday trash collections. Almost 1/5 of all solid waste collected by municipals are yard waste and organic waste that could be composted by homeowners. Though some is then composted by the municipalities, most ends up in landfills that are quickly reaching capacity.

On top of those concerns is that of health and safety to ourselves. The repeated exposure to chemical pesticides nad accidents that can occur from the use of power tools and equipment. By gardeners over using or not following directions of pesticides they are putting themselves, their families, neighbors, and even animals in increased health risk. Adding to that is that nearly half of all households have stored pesticides within reach of children. 230,000 people every year are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries related to lawn and garden tools.

Non-native plants can “escape” from gardens and landscapes, which can lead to them taking over non-landscapes natural areas and kill off a wide variety of native plants, and from there wildlife that depends on it. Also the desire for new homes on newly large cleared lots is resulting in a significant clearance of natural areas which then fragments wildlife habitat. Only less than 10% of all insects are harmful to plants, most pesticides are harmful or lethal to all insects.

As a lawn absorbs less storm water than woods or a diverse planting of shrubs, trees, and groundcovers. Using extensive grass will then cause more run off, which will then contibute to flooding problems in suburban areas where the woodlands have been cleared. Though grading and traditional landscaping is aimed at moving the rainwater off the site quickly this only increases flooding and lessens groundwater supplies. This also adds to increased stream pollution.

To top off the damage to the native environment and personal and public health, the cost of labor and materials is much more than a natural derived landscape. The average acre of lawn costs about $700 and needs 40 hours of labor to maintain a year. So maybe looking into green lanscaping is something to look into.

Everything you landscape is green, so what does green landscaping mean? And no I don’t mean only planting green plants. Landscaping green, beneficial lanscaping, environmentally friendly landscaping, also called sustainable landscaping is the way of designing and maintaining beautiful yards, gardens, and even larger landscapes. These designs must reduce harm to the environment, help to save time and money becasue of lower maintenance, and help to have a healthier place to live work or play.

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