What do you look forward to most on the weekends? Relaxing? Spending time with family? Going to the beach?
Does mowing the lawn make the list?
If not, then you’re in luck (and not alone)! There are many ways to create a yard that (almost) takes care of itself so you can spend more time doing the things you enjoy most. Plus, these kinds of yards are beneficial to our waterways, like Phillippi Creek.
Grass is the largest irrigated crop in the U.S. covering roughly 40 million acres of land. That’s a little smaller than the state of Wisconsin.
A person with an average sized lawn (0.14 acres) in our region spends about 14 hours a year mowing. This equates to spending a month and half of your life cutting the grass.
What Are the Alternatives to Grass?
There are a wide range of Florida Friendly non-grass options that allow you to keep as much or as little of that “grassy” look as you want. Plus, these types of landscapes are low maintenance. You can play around with plants that attract butterflies or birds, garden features, and more!
FL Friendly Plants & Trees with Mulch or Shell
Click on the gallery below to see more Florida Friendly yards.
How Do My Lawn Choices Help Phillippi Creek?
1. Nitrogen Pollution Reduction
Because many turf grasses are not native to Florida, they can require lots of fertilizer to stay green. How much fertilizer depends on your soil type, the kind of water you’re using (i.e. potable vs reclaimed), and the type of grass you have. That’s a lot of homework! As a result people tend to overfertilize. During a rainstorm extra nitrogen washes into our local waterways.
Landscaping equipment also emits a lot of nitrogen in the form of nitrogen oxides, which can contribute to the overall nitrogen pollution in our creeks and bays. For example, a 30cc 4-stroke leaf blower emits SIX TIMES more nitrogen oxides than an F150 truck.
2. Water Conservation
Many households use drinkable water to irrigate their grass because, again, many grasses are not native to FL and sometimes can’t handle our local rainfall patterns. Sarasota County is located in the Southern Water Use Caution Area, which is an area where water resources will become critical in the next twenty years. This designation went into effect in 1992. We are coming up on the 20-year mark soon, so water conservation is increasingly important. (If you have to water grass or plants, consider hooking up a couple rain barrels – it’s cheap and quick!).
3. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction
Besides emitting nitrogen pollution, gas powered landscaping equipment also emits other types of greenhouse gasses and smog forming pollution, which can exacerbate climate change and put more stress on our water resources. For example, running a lawn mower for an hour emits about the same amount of pollution as driving a Toyota Camry 300 miles.
4. Habitat & Wildlife
Having a variety of plants or groundcovers instead of just one type of grass can help support the wildlife, bugs, and critters that live near Phillippi Creek and play a role in the health of the larger ecosystem.