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Green Laws and Runoff Problems

June 17, 1999

Do You Really Want A Green Lawn?

By Stuart Lieberman, Esq
Realty Times

Congratulations! You just bought that new home in suburbia. Its a center hall colonial with a two car garage. Make that a three car garage. And the lawn, it couldn’t be greener.

Homeowners are not the only ones who want big, green lawns. A perfect lawn, with that golf course look, fits the traditional corporate image as well. But maybe, we should not want a green lawn at all.

As it turns out, our green lawns are making us ill. Did you know that commercial and residential gardening equipment accounts for seven percent of the ozone forming pollutants from all mobile sources, including automobiles? Lawn care appliances are real polluters, not imaginary ones. In fact, the EPA reached an agreement with lawnmower engine manufacturers which provides that by the year 2005, lawnmower engines will be 40% cleaner than present engines.

Fortunately for all us, the desired green lawn image image is slowly changing. A significant developing trend is to replace that classic look with natural landscaping, a process called “naturescaping.” Planners and environmentalists are able to create a natural, native habitat, which replaces the classic manicured look. Back to nature means low maintenance — naturescapes take care of themselves.

Naturescaping will be more carefully considered as the cost of maintaining the classic look continues to escalate. Clearly, increased regulation, which will drive up the costs of purchasing, maintaining and operating commercial lawn care equipment, will weigh into this decision-making process. Since dollars and cents are truly at issue, individuals and companies will want to take a close look at this environmentally friendly alternative.

Creating a naturescape takes planning and patience. In a way it seems easy: if it is a naturescape, you don’t have to do anything — right? Wrong.

A naturescape must be developed. Once the natural habitat takes root, then nature takes care of itself. But you must first get to that point. Here are some observations:

  • Professional assistance is available and should be consulted. In general, a naturescape must include safe shelters for wildlife. Shelters take many forms, and allow wildlife to rest, escape, retreat and raise their young. Examples include thickets, hedges, logs and long grass.
  • Food sources are also required for a natural habitat. Vegetation that produces food in the form of seeds, nectar, berries and insects should be considered. Supplemental bird feeders may also be useful.
  • Clean fresh water is a must. Certain amphibians and insects require water to complete their life cycles. Running water is encouraged. Birdbaths, ponds, and shallow dishes may do.
  • Planning the naturescape requires mapping and an identification of what is already on the premises. Soil texture, slopes, and sun exposure should be mapped. Planning should consider seasonal changes. It may take months or years for a habitat to develop into a completely self-sustaining environment.

Some States have specialists who will provide free guidance. The EPA, as well as several local levels of government, can also provide help.

Of course, local zoning rules must be considered before you eliminate your lawn. But if its legal and you are a bit daring, this can pay off in so many ways. Related Articles:

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