Phew, we are almost at a point where we don’t have to mow the lawn anymore. A study conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center in 2008 found that 58 percent of those polled do not enjoy mowing their lawns. On top of that you have to use harmful fertilizers to keep your lawn looking pristine, and consider the watering we had to do during this summer’s drought.
As you think about this over the winter, consider this: a 2005 NASA study found that in terms of surface area, “residential and commercial lawns are the single largest irrigated crop in America. Christina Milesi, one of the study’s researchers, told NASA’s Earth Observatory that she estimated that there are three times more acres of irrigated lawn in the US than irrigated corn…about 54 million Americans mow their lawns every weekend.”
How to get ready to green your yard the green way:
• First, reduce your lawn as much as possible.
• Stop using chemical fertilizers.
• Adopt the use of battery-run equipment that can be powered by renewable energy.
Landscaping your home can have a positive impact on the value of your home. This does not require a large lawn, however. It does mean having a well-thought-out and well-executed plan for your yard. A recent article on landscaping and property values said, “A landscape full of large, mature plants is obviously one that has been carefully tended to over the years, and that sends a signal to buyers. That’s a good indication that they’ve taken care of the inside of the house as well, which is appealing to home buyers.” Cutting fresh edges around planting beds and tending to gardens with deadheading perennial plants can positively impact your property. Crisp edges, no dead material and well-tended plants make for a lovely yard. Reducing your lawn area reduces the amount of fertilizer needed, which will have an enormous impact on carbon dioxide output.
Also, using battery-run tools in your yard versus gas-fired tools can save a great deal of carbon dioxide output. Gas-run mowers, leaf blowers and trimmers spew a great deal of carbon dioxide in their use. The estimate is that every gallon of gasoline burned by lawnmowers emits 20 pounds of CO2. According to the EPA, one gas lawn mower emits 89 pounds of CO2 and 34 pounds of other pollutants per year. It is estimated that fertilizer production consumes approximately 1.2 percent of the world’s energy and is responsible for 1.2 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions.
There are new, powerful battery-run tools available that match or improve on gas run tools’ performance. In the lawnmower category, E-Go, Stihl and Ryobi have highly regarded machines. E-Go equipment is referred to as the Tesla of electric yard tools. Consumer Reports regards E-Go tools highly. Mass Audubon has replaced its gas-powered tools with all-electric tools, and it is pleased with the results. These tools are quiet, effective, and work well.
Battery-run tools can run on renewable electricity. Whether you have solar panels on your home or buy renewable energy, your home and the tools you use can run on the power of renewables. The Cape Light Compact offers additional renewable content as part of standard supply options, and you can opt up with CLC Local Green (with no contract). Its current standard power supply product matches customers’ annual usage with 100 percent Renewable Energy Certificates. CLC Local Green goes a step beyond, matching customers’ usage with either 50 or 100 percent MA Class 1 RECs, depending on which program you select. This can be done regardless of if you have solar on your roof or are participating in a community solar project.
You can have a beautiful, functional yard and do it in an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly way. Here is an example of a home that cut down the lawn by 70 percent to create a pathway of lovely plantings. Now, everyone in the neighborhood wants to visit the yard.
Ms. Holt is a builidng, energy management and solar expert with more than three decades of experience. She lives in Sandwich.