How Much Lawn Do You Need?

Why we love a lawn

  • Play & Performance. A great groundcover for sports and for children to play on.
  • Calm & Comfort. The order, symmetry, repetition, and uniformity of a lawn can evoke peaceful feelings.
  • Safety & Security. Wide open views provide homeowners with a sense of assurance.

How our lawn can bring us angst

The ongoing cost of maintaining a lawn is high. If you do it yourself, you pay the high price of treasured time. If you hire a landscaper, the weekly mows, annual treatments, and leaf collection in the Fall can add up to thousands of dollars per season. Leonard J. Buck, the namesake of a renowned public garden in Far Hills, NJ once said, "To have a beautiful lawn, you need to cover it in dollar bills." Most of us can relate to that!

The impact of lawn on the environment

Reduced Water Quality

Lawns recharge our groundwater far less efficiently than landscaped areas that include trees, shrubs, meadow grasses, and groundcover. In addition, with a near impervious surface comparable to a roof or parking lot, a lawn produces runoff that can overburden our streams and rivers.

Herbicide & Pesticide Threat

Maintaining a stunning and lush lawn most often requires the use of herbicides and pesticides to suppress unwelcome weeds. The full impact on our water supply of the rampant use of these chemicals is still unknown.

Things to Consider

  • What percent of your lawn is actually in use?
  • Does the lawn not technically in use serve another purpose?
  • Does your lawn add to the aesthetics of your property?
  • Is your property shaded or sunny?
  • How well does your grass grow?

The Gift of Grasses

An apple is not just an apple. Apples come in all sorts of varieties, flavors, shapes, sizes, and colors. Likewise, grass is not just grass. Grasses come in a various of heights, textures, and colors. Many are hardy and thrive under a range of soil conditions, with some preferring poor soils, exclusively. Several can even grow under a canopy of trees and, once established, grasses don't require additional irrigation (In the image to the right, see how the Bluestem Grass is thriving during drought while the lawn is showing signs of stress).

Strike a Balance

The aim is to strike a balance. You want enough lawn to meet your needs, while the rest can be relinquished to the greater good! An investment in converting portions of lawn to various grasses will easily be paid off in a couple of seasons through lower maintenance costs and the conservation of natural resources. And, in the short term, you will benefit from enhanced visual appeal that will surprise you with each change of season. 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: For a really thought-provoking read on The American Lawn, check out this blog post:
How America’s Most Useless Crop Also Became Its Most Commonly Grown One