Lawns & Lawn Care



Lawns can look great, and they are a great place for playtime, family socializing, etc. But the way we maintain them can have a big effect on the environment.

The pesticides and fertilizers that we put on our lawns don’t just remain on our own yards. When it rains, some of those chemicals run off our yards into other fields, and eventually into our streams and waterways. Trace amounts are even carried down through our lawn and seep into our groundwater. When you take into account that there are tens of millions of lawns, you recognize that the consequence is that literally tons of unwanted fertilizer and pesticides flow into our waterways every year.

If someone were to ask you whether it would be okay to pour fertilizer and pesticides into your local stream—even in small amounts—you would almost surely say no. Just remember that that is the choice you are faced with when it comes to lawn treatments. We are not suggesting that you have to give up your entire lawn-care regimen. We are asking only that you think carefully about each chemical application, and that you keep it to a minimum. Please do not just sign a contract and otherwise turn your back on the process. Please assure yourself that every single application is really necessary—that the applications occur at the lowest possible concentration, and at the lowest possible frequency.

We understand that people like lawns. We do too! But if we douse our lawns with chemicals every time we perceive an imperfection, then we are not being responsible citizens. We are not being responsible stewards of the environment.

Look at this lawn, it looks good, it makes an excellent place to play Frisbee, for neighborhood picnics, etc. Well, it may surprise you to know that this lawn has not received a single chemical application of any type in the past 15 years.

photo M. Noonan

Sure, there are broad leaves poking their heads up here and there. But mowing effectively keeps the broad leaves under control, and the owner has the satisfaction of knowing that no harmful chemicals of any type run off of his land into the environment. He also has the satisfaction of knowing that the skin of the barefoot children playing in his yard come into contact with nothing but nature’s goodness.

This truly is a situation where we have a choice. We can think globally and act locally.


Content provided by Canisius College students under the direction of Michael Noonan, PhD.