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In the 21st century, adopting environmentally sustainable practices have become a part of our daily lives. Many of us are concerned about our environmental “footprint” and have taken measures to reduce that footprint. However, there is one practice that does not get a lot of attention, and needs improvement. Our grass cultivation practices have not made the jump into the sustainable 21st century and remain stuck in the 1950s.

While we have petitioned against pesticides used in our food crops, homeowners continue to apply pesticides to their lawn at 10 times that rate. In the United States, 80 million pounds of toxins are dumped on lawns each year. Also, Americans burn 1.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually just for mowing. Lawn maintenance is a major source of greenhouse gases. And that’s not all - there is also the huge amount of water wasted to consider - a one-third acre lot can squander more than 36,000 gallons of drinking water every month in the summer. While these figures are American, Canadians have not jumped into the 21st century with their lawn cultivation techniques either.

However, this fact has not gone unnoticed, and turf researchers have been developing blends of tough, self-sufficient grasses which produce lawns that are able to flourish without pesticides and at a fraction of the precious irrigation and fertilization requirements. They do require some weed protection during the first winter and spring after planting, but once they are mature, are extremely weed-resistant. From an owner’s perspective, the best part about these turfs is that they require only infrequent mowing, as they are much slower-growing than traditional grass.  

Another benefit of sustainable turf is that its easy maintenance also makes it a good habitat for low-growing wildflowers and seasonal bulbs, which attract butterflies, native bees, and other pollinators. And with the possibility of crocuses, violets, clovers and bluebonnets growing in the turf, it also looks more beautiful than regular grass.

Your best choice for sustainable turf depends on where you live. For example, in the West, Habitruf, a mixture of naturally short-growing native grasses can, once rooted, withstand a four-week drought with a single watering and needs no more than one mowing a month. The best option is to ask a turf specialist what best suits your climate.

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