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In warming world, manicured lawn is no longer a thing of beauty

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Think of the environmental impact

While Thomas Farragher’s “Rhode Island sod farmer provides suburban splendor” was a lovely human-interest story (Metro, May 7), it failed to mention the environmental impact of lawns. Lawns in the United States are a major agricultural “crop,” covering an area (as Farragher notes) about the size of Florida. They require massive amounts of water and chemical fertilizer and herbicides.

Native habitat yards, by contrast, sequester more carbon and provide homes for the rapidly declining populations of pollinators. A follow-up article on creating native habitats in your yard and the benefits that result is in order.

Rabbi Katy Allen



The writer is the founder of Jewish Climate Action Network-MA.

Attitudes are not changing fast enough

Fortunately, attitudes about lush green lawns are changing, though not fast enough, especially in this era of climate change. Lawns offer little in regard to wildlife habitat, plants for pollinators, trees for shade, and carbon absorption. The shallow roots of grass cause water to run off into the streets and pollute water bodies. Fertilizers that are used to maintain lawns pollute ponds, the ocean, and drinking water. Lawn irrigation wastes valuable drinking water at a time when seasonal droughts are increasing.

It is much better for the environment and our human health to decrease lawn size and plant native plants and trees and even a vegetable garden for healthy food.

Liz Durkee

Oak Bluffs

The writer is a climate change planner with the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

One story says fertilizer is bad. Two days later, another says: Fertilize more

I was struck by the juxtaposition of two recent articles in the Globe. On May 5, the Metro section included a news article concerning the environmental impact of lawn fertilizer (“To aid scallop haul, Nantucket votes to ban use of fertilizers”). Two days later, a feature highlighted a private business selling “suburban splendor” in the form of turf lawns, in which the owner stated that people should “fertilize more than they do” and more nitrogen should be used than is typical.



Bob Rosenbaum


For an alternative, consider No Mow May

Why are we perpetuating the myth that cultivating perfect, lush lawns is good practice? This “suburbanite’s dream” is as unsustainable as it is unwise.

Contrast one business owner’s advice that we fertilize, water, and mow early and often with the national “No Mow May” movement. By not mowing your lawn in May, you can help ensure that our natural allies — those beleaguered bees — can feast on the “hideous dandelions” that Thomas Farragher’s article characterizes as an “ugly weed” and get an invaluable jump-start on a more healthy season.

Why fuel America’s obsession with the “perfect [and] manicured lawn” when we’re learning the critical importance of supporting pollinators, curtailing fertilizers, limiting raking that disturbs natural habitat, decreasing dependence on gas, and conserving water?

I respect family-owned businesses, local entrepreneurs, and Fenway Park’s inimitable green outfield, but can we tell a story in a way that also helps us transition responsibly into the real world? We can do better, get smarter, and go smaller.

Susan Varn

Kensington, N.H.