Easy Ways to an Environmentally Friendly Lawn

The growing emphasis many homeowners place on keeping their property pristine is reflective of many things. Though it's quite possible a reflection of the enjoyment many homeowners take from landscaping, it's more likely a reflection of the impact a well-manicured lawn can make on the overall value of the property.

In a study conducted by Michigan State University, a well-manicured lawn was found to increase the value of a home anywhere from 5 to 11 percent. Much of that might be due to curb appeal. A home with curb appeal is one that is appealing to the naked eye, meaning prospective buyers already have a good first impression before even stepping foot inside the home. A home with great curb appeal will attract more prospective buyers, likely adding the amount homeowners can add to their asking price.

As the popularity of landscaping has grown, so has the popularity of responsible landscaping. More and more homeowners are not only spending their weekends caring for their lawns, but also doing so in a way that's beneficial to the environment. For those hoping to follow suit, consider the following tips:

* Remember something as simple as the seeds can make a big difference. Oftentimes, the region of the country will dictate which choice of grass seed is best for a given lawn. That's because a grass that's suited to a particular area will require less maintenance, which means less water and less reliance on substances to prevent or fix problems. Using less water is environmentally friendly, as is using less chemicals to solve problems related to the lawn. Consult with your local nursery or garden center for the types of grass seed best suited for your region.

* Organic diets can benefit the lawn, too. Many people prefer organic foods these days because of their taste and their smaller carbon footprint than processed and preserved foods. But organics aren't just good for humans; they're good for lawns as well. Instead of chemical-based foods and fertilizers, consider an all-natural diet for your lawn. Compost heaps can generate important nutrients for your lawn and plants and can be created simply from lawn clippings, raked leaves and the uneaten scraps from your kitchen -- like fruit rinds, eggshells and leftover coffee grounds.

* Install an irrigation system. While soaking a lawn with water might seem good for the grass, chances are it's not very good for the environment and possibly illegal in heavy drought regions. An underground irrigation system, however, is designed to water lawns and plants at the root level, strengthening the grass and plants and saving some water in the meantime. Many systems are timer-operated and water in the early morning or early evening hours when the water will have maximum potential to benefit the lawn. These timer systems also make it possible for busy homeowners to maintain their lawns without making a major time commitment.

* Reduce reliance on pesticides. While pesticides are necessary in certain instances, homeowners can reduce their reliance on pesticides and in doing so save some money. Some insects are too pesky and could be a great threat to a lawn, but it's important for homeowners not to overlook the many benefits insects and animals can provide. Worms, birds, butterflies, and some beetles can consume harmful "bugs" like aphids, mites and other leaf eaters. Bats are even good to have around, as bats often prey on biting flies, gnats and mosquitoes, pests that can make outdoor entertaining a nightmare.

* Keep the grass cut at a proper level. While Junior might want to cut the grass as close as possible to reduce the amount of times he has to push the mower around the yard, cutting too low is potentially very harmful to the grass. That's because grass that's cut too short is increasingly susceptible to disease, insects and drought.

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