Americans spend approximately $40 billion a year to maintain more than 32 million acres of lawn — an area roughly the size of Pennsylvania. We pour 270 billion gallons of water per week on our lawns. We apply 10 times more fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides than farmers do to their crops. And a typical gas lawn mower emits about the same quantity of volatile organic compounds in one hour as a car driven 350 miles.
Making meadows is a green alternative.
The easiest way to convert a portion of lawn to meadow is simply to mow only once or twice a year. Often the best sections to convert are those that are difficult to mow such as wet or steep areas. Other ideal locations include transition zones between turf and woodlands, stream corridors and areas underutilized for family recreation.
The benefits of changing from lawn to meadow are many, such as better habitat for wildlife, an increase in pollinator species and the beautiful visual appeal of meadows as the seasons change. You can start small, but beware: Making meadows can be addictive! After experiencing a few seasons of observing the meadow and its many inhabitants, you’ll never look at that sterile lawn of turf the same way again.
Kirsten Werner is communications director at Natural Lands Trust. For more information about this topic, download this article from Natural Lands Trust’s website.