The unlawning of America: Try these more environmentally friendly alternatives to grass

Grass Alternatives
Grass Alternatives

A front lawn, it’s been a social status symbol of the American dream since the 1700s. But now overwhelmed, isolated, and for some families, food insecure, new options may be un-lawning America.

From toxic pesticides and chemical fertilizers to carbon emissions from mowers and water usage, lawns may actually not be the greenest option for your community moving forward.

The perfect lawn, it’s hard to achieve and even harder to maintain. It’s not just hard on you, it’s also hard on the environment.

“We have so much underutilized land here in America, more than 40 million acres,” Caroline Chomanics, chief operations officer for Ideas for Us, told Ivanhoe.

Lawns across America use nine billion gallons of water in one day. And the EPA reports that 50 percent of that water is wasted due to evaporation or runoff. And Yale University reports U.S. mowers use more than 600 million gallons of gas each year. Now a new wave of options greener than grass are popping up in neighborhoods.

“We transform the average American lawn into a productive micro-farm,” Chomanics said.

Urban agriculture programs like Fleet Farming aim to create agrohoods, devoted to connecting with earth and each other. Combatting local food insecurity, redirecting resources, and even attracting pollinators like butterflies and bees. Edible landscapes engage communities to grow together.

“And that’s a feeling unlike any other, harvesting the fruits of your labor, the literal fruits of your labor, it’s just insanely rewarding,” Aly Sonrutherford, farming manager for Ideas for Us, said.

Not sure if you have a green enough thumb for a food forest? There are still ways to reduce your footprint.

Astroturf and synthetic lawns can conserve billions of gallons of water and native groundcovers like moss, herbs, wildflowers, succulents, and even stones can reduce carbon emissions from mowing while also attracting those beautiful butterflies.