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The 800 Pound Gorilla in our Backyards. Why Focus on the Suburban Lawn? A high level of American’s interaction with the environment occurs here – need.

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Presentation on theme: "The 800 Pound Gorilla in our Backyards. Why Focus on the Suburban Lawn? A high level of American’s interaction with the environment occurs here – need."— Presentation transcript:

1 The 800 Pound Gorilla in our Backyards

2 Why Focus on the Suburban Lawn? A high level of American’s interaction with the environment occurs here – need to teach the right lessons Third largest “crop” in the U.S. – and growing! Especially important for urban watersheds like the N.W. Branch – can be the major source of pollutants

3 The Lawn Ecosystem in the U.S. Imported from Europe – is an artificial ecosystem Only able to become widespread because of technological innovations

4 Americans spend 25 Billion dollars a year on landscaping $100 for every person in the country $380 for every household The National Costs of the Lawn Ecosystem

5 The Costs Associated with Lawn Care The average homeowner spends six times more per hectare on yard care than the average farmer spends tending crops. LandownerTotal CostCost/PersonCost/Hectare Homeowners$25 Billion$379.00$2,500/hectare Farmers$57 BillionNot available$420/hectare

6 The Ecological Footprint Concept An ecological footprint is a way of translating the environmental impacts of an activity into the land needed to sustain that activity ad infinitum

7 Ecological Footprint of the Lawn at the National and State Level InputTotal Energy Use (GJ)Total Footprint (Hectares)Footprint per Hectare (Hectares) PennsylvaniaNationalPennsylvaniaNationalPennsylvaniaNational LandN/A 548,35011,600, Water7.7x x10 6 9,62576, Fuel6.8x x ,0001,138, Machine Production 8.8x x ,000550, Fertilizer Production 1.4x x ,500165, Pesticide Production 4.8x x , Total1.03x x ,07513,589, Nationally we use enough energy in lawn care every year to supply 1.5 million American households with power for a year. 1/5 hectare of land is needed to provide enough energy to care for one hectare of lawn

8 Estimated National and State Level Air Pollution from Lawn Care Although used infrequently, lawn equipment creates a significant amount of air pollution because small engine emission standards are more lenient than large engine standards. Lawn equipment produces between times as much air pollution per liter of gas as a car. InputParticulate Matter per Hectare NO x and HC's per Hectare Total CO per Hectare Total CO 2 per Hectare Total NH 3 per Hectare National11.5 kg/yr.403 kg/yr.1,910 kg/yr. 806 kg/yr kg/yr. PA14 kg/yr.540 kg/yr.2,537 kg/yr. 1,082 kg/yr kg/yr.

9 The Lawn’s Impact on Biota Very few studies on this topic Studies show that urban growth favors generalist and exotic species

10 Comparison of Biota with Different Maintenance Regimes Maintenance Regime High Maintenance Medium Maintenance Low Maintenance Number of Plant Species Found 2 species5 species16 species Percentage of Native Species Found 0 percent 56 percent

11 Impacts of Lawns on Soil & Water 1/5 of all pesticides are used on lawns – 10x higher than farmer’s use 10 percent of water pollution comes from lawn care 1/3 of household water use is used in lawn care

12 Runoff and Soil Loss Rain water infiltration is 2.5 greater in natural fields than the compacted lawns of suburbia Reduces groundwater recharge Makes streams more flashy Increases erosion rates

13 What to do? Solutions Grow from a Sense of Place – Design for the Place Where You Live Use poorly draining land as a pond or install a rain garden there

14 What to do? Design and maintain yard using ecological accounting Example: Integrated pest management vs. pesticides

15 What to do? Design and maintain yards with Nature instead of against it Example: yard waste – compost vs. landfill

16 What to do? Make nature visible People become interested in nature through their yards & parks Helps them make the connection between themselves and the environment around them

17 Concrete Examples Rain BarrelsComposters

18 More Examples Urban Shared GardensRain Gardens

19 Still more Reduce lawn sizesEliminate exotics/plant perennials & natives

20 More Examples Green roofsPlant trees


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