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Does Your Grass Look Like A$$?

Updated: Mar 28

It's no secret that the ornamental lawn as a status symbol is a thing of the past, like a bad habit that shouldn't last. There's a better way to welcome guests and boost your 'curb appeal'. Attract the bee's knees and reduce those crippling grocery store fee's. Turn your lawn into a low maintenance, food producing,habitat producing oasis for all living things.

Check the rest of the blog post to go in depth on the detrimental effects of lawns and stay tuned for more on how to make a change!

Healthy Lawn Maintenance

Drought Impact

Watering Restrictions - City of Vancouver

  1. Watering restrictions apply from May 1 to October 15

  2. Watering restrictions are part of the regional Drinking Water Plan set by Metro Vancouver

  3. Water restrictions are organized in four stages of implementation - least to most severe

    • Stage 1 - fine for violating water restriction - $250 per complaint

    • Comes into effect automatically each year May 1 to October 15 - to prevent wasting drinking water and ensure users are employing efficient and effective watering practices

  • Stage 2 - fine for violating water restriction - $500 per complaint

  • Restrictions conserve drinking water to ensure existing sypply lasts until the return of seasonal rainfall or the water shortage situation is over - designed to converse enough drinking water to avoid or delay moving to Stage 3 as long as possible

  • Stage 3 - fine for violating water restriction - $750 per complaint

  • Responding to serious drought conditions - reduce drinking water use by implementing lawn watering ban and other stricter measures

  • Stage 4 - fine for violating water restriction - $1000 per complaint

  • Emergency stage limits both indoor and outdoor water use to ensure adequate drinking water supply for human consumption, firefighting, and protect drinking water with the water system for public health

Downside of Lawns

The University of Delaware provides reasons to reduce the lawn in your landscape:

High maintenance costs

-- frequent and often costly maintenance to keep turf grass looking good

---- mowing once a week

---- extra irrigation to keep grass from going dormant during drought

---- annual fertilizer application

Hight water requirements

-- the use of fresh potable water to irrigate lawns

---- NASA estimates sufficient irrigation for all lawns in the US would require 200 gallons per person per day (to prevent dormancy during drought)

------ assume 1/2" - 1" of water per week (approximately 1 hour of watering from a sprinkler - depending on type of sprinkler)

Minimal wildlife value

-- provide little support for native biodiversity, creates a sterile environment

-- provide habitat for invasive chafer beetles (per City of Vancouver)

Low aesthetic interest

-- requires full sun, competes with trees for moisture and light

-- impractical against foundations of buildings

-- difficult to maintain on sloped ground (mowing difficulty and danger)

-- little aesthetic interest due to unbroken swath of green

---- especially in relation to changing seasons

-- does not bloom, does not attract butterflies, no fall colour (except dormant brown)

Negative environmental impact

-- high pollution outputs

---- gas powered garden tools emit 5% of air pollution in the US

---- water pollution from fertilizer runoff

------ cause algae blooms, depleted water bodies

---- cancer health risk to humans from lawn pesticide use

Alternative Options

The Land Conservancy of British Columbia provides information for using permaculture to restore your property to ecological integrity.

The term 'permaculture' derives from the words permanent and agriculture. A permaculture restoration is designed to identify what a functional landscape would look like and then develop a restoration plan that brings the landscape back into ecological integrity, where the system is balanced and serving as many living species as possible.

The steps to restoring your property include:

Step 1 - Observe

-- ideally a year of observations

-- seasonal wet and dry areas

-- water drainage, pooling

-- light source, ground slope (North, East, South, West)

-- trees providing shade, windbreak, water absorption, nutrient absorption

-- holistic approach

---- a functional landscape is an integrated system of plants, soil, light, water that support wildlife

------- understand the root causes of landscape suffering - invasive species, plant stress, soil conditions, water flow / availability

Step 2 - Make a map

-- inventory of the land

---- built structures

---- trees and their canopy

---- ground slope

---- soil conditions

---- water drainage and pooling

Step 3 - Understand the history

-- naturally occurring soil or brought in

-- soil contamination - important for edible / medicinal plantings

-- species history, especially invasive species

Step 4 - Identify challenges and goals

-- understand what needs restoring - ie. pollinators, native amphibians, native plants

-- identify key problems that need to be remedied

Step 5 - Start small and monitor impacts

-- plan for small, slow solutions

-- re-frame problems in terms of solutions

-- deliberate, methodical changes

---- monitor system response and recalibrate as necessary

Step 6 - Evaluate and adaptively manage

-- See the system as a whole and build biodiversity

-- integrate rather than segregate

-- plan for less interventions over time as new systems become self sustaining

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