Lawns are a great space for backyard barbecues and playing fetch. They are our home outdoors. Turns out, when cared for responsibly, lawns can help out the local ecosystem too.
Many people take pride in having the best-looking lawn on the block, but there are plenty of non-aesthetic benefits that may surprise you! The environmental impact of your lawn is largely dependent on how you manage it, but a properly maintained lawn can:
1 Provide a cool, safe surface for recreational activities.
2 Decrease water runoff or filter water before it enters the drainage system. By taking up nutrients, filtering sediment, and slowing down water movement, grass can help more water enter the soil instead of running off the surface.
3 Reduce soil erosion by creating a perennial groundcover.
4 Conserve biodiversity. Compared to paved spaces, grasslands are teeming with life, from insects, earthworms, and pollinators to bacteria, fungi, and soil-thriving critters.
5 Sequester carbon. Through photosynthesis, grass removes carbon dioxide from the air and repurposes it to grow new leaves and roots.
Sunday ProTip: Carbon sequestration is moot if you don’t take steps to minimize emissions involved in lawn maintenance. Do your part by mowing less often, keeping your irrigation systems in good shape, and applying fertilizers and pesticides efficiently.
Growing dense, healthy turf is at the heart of what we do here at Sunday—and it’s for more than just aesthetic reasons. We recommend deep but infrequent waterings, which encourages deeper roots that are more resourceful and less reliant on human inputs. The result? More carbon sequestration, less water use, and less fuel consumption. Win, win, win!
Here are some of the other core techniques and tips we use to reduce the net carbon impact of our lawns:
Reduce mowing frequency. To temper fuel consumption, you can simply mow less often. The longer you let your grass grow, the longer your roots will grow, which increases the rate of carbon sequestration!
Don’t bag those clippings! “Grasscycling” means leaving clippings on your lawn to decompose and recycle nutrients back into the soil. This reduces the need for fertilizers and cuts back on landfill waste (lawn clippings comprise the largest single waste product in many city landfills!)
Feed your lawn only what it needs. Less is more! We follow MLSN (Minimum Level of Sustainable Nutrition) guidelines, which means applying targeted nutrient doses to your soil. This reduces both fertilizer waste and the fuel consumption associated with fertilizer production.
Plant native gardens. Sunday is more than just a lawn company! We’re big fans of planting pollinator gardens, which is why we send a pack of wildflower seeds to every customer with their first box. Since 2019, we’ve distributed nearly 200,000 packets of seeds!
Grow clover. In addition to being friendly to pollinators, clover has a built-in mechanism for converting atmospheric nitrogen into nutrients that it—and the surrounding grass—can use. We add a small amount of clover to our Lucky Lawn seed blend to make it easy for you to grow it.
Rethink your relationship with pests. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) calls for using pesticides only as a last resort, which is better for pollinators and reduces fuel consumption associated with pesticide production.
Sunday ProTip: You can support pollinators in your lawn! Leave flowering plants for pollinator forage. Plant clover and raise the mowing height to provide season-long blooms. If you do need to spray pesticides, make sure to remove flowers (by hand or by mowing) prior to spraying so you don’t harm critical pollinators like birds, bees, and butterflies!
Ready to show your lawn—and the planet—some love? Sign up for your smart lawn plan today.
Beard, James B. and Robert L. Green. The Role of Turgrasses in Environmental Protection and Their Benefit to Humans. Journal of Environmental Quality.
Benefits of Turfgrass. National Parks Service.
Environmental Benefits of Healthy Lawns. University of Minnesota.
Healthy Lawn Healthy Environment. United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Leslie, Madeline. The Potential of Turfgrass to Sequester Carbon and Offset Greenhouse Gas Emissions. University of Minnesota Turfgrass Science.