Ditch Lawns, Grow Gardens

Where did lawns come from?

Lawns have been around since the medieval times in Europe, where only the wealthy, upper classes could afford to maintain it. People of lower classes could not afford to take the time to have a patch of land that did not provide any food for their family or their livelihood.

With the invention of the lawn mower and the implementation of the 40-hour work week, people of all classes could have access to mowing their lawn in a more effective and timely manner.

After World War II, the rising production of low-cost housing and of suburban neighborhoods, each house came with its very own green lawn. Having a well-kept lawn would then become a conventional symbol of the American dream

What are the impacts to the environment?

The extensive care it takes to maintain a lawn has shown to be extremely detrimental to the environment and its surrounding ecosystems. Growing lawns that do not provide any benefit to the ecosystem have shown signs in:

  • Increasing water usage
  • Increasing pesticide usage
  • Increasing carbon emissions

As we use up the environment’s resources such as water and land space, the health of the environment and the public are slowly deteriorating. Lawns are consistently doused in pesticides, being trimmed by lawn mowers, and using up our water supply, all to maintain this conventional view of what a lawn should look like.

  • Gardening machinery accounts for 10-18% of gasoline emissions. Running a lawn mower for an hour is equivalent to the pollution emitted by 40 automobiles.
  • Over 50-70% of the water in an American home is dedicated to maintaining lawns, which amounts to 9 billion gallons of fresh drinkable water every year.
  • Americans are using over 70 million pounds of pesticides each year. These pesticides runoff from lawns, intoxicating the surrounding soil and water systems and is killing wildlife that is necessary in order to maintain a well-functioning ecosystem.
Why should we convert lawns to edible & native landscapes?

Growing native plants is an essential way to reduce the harmful effects of growing a lawn because they thrive best in their native habitat. They are resistant to pests, climate patterns in that area, and are accustomed to the soil, and the amount of sun they will be receiving in the particular area.

Having native and edible plants can help in many ways which include:

  1. It reduces the use of pesticides.
  2. It improves the air quality by reducing the need for mowing consistently and native plants do a better job of sequestering carbon dioxide than the plain old grass.
  3. It improves the water quality and wildlife by reducing the number of chemicals that run-off into our waterways.
  4. It saves you time since native plants can thrive and maintain themselves.
  5. “Diverse varieties of birds, butterflies, and animals, are attracted to the native plants, thus enhancing the biodiversity of the area.” This can prevent the extinction of many important species, such as pollinators of food crops which include the honey bee, insects, and birds. [6]
How can you help?

There are many ways to incorporate native flowers and produce into your lawn.

If you happen to live in the area of Orlando, you can schedule a consultation with the IDEAS For Us Fleet Farming program and they can help determine how to go about building an edible landscape in your lawn. Please check out the website if interested: https://fleetfarming.org/edible-landscapes/schedule/

Another easy way to find out which native plants are more effective to grow in a particular region is through this website: http://floridayards.org/fyplants/

It asks a series of questions pertaining to what region you live in, how much water, soil, and light will the plants have access to, and then it gives you a list of all the possible plants that can thrive easily in your home.

IDEAS For Us & Fleet Farming

IDEAS For Us has an agricultural program called Fleet Farming, which is transforming the way we view our barren lawns. The program specializes in growing food in urban settings to allow easier access to fresh and local fruits and vegetables.

Fleet Farming has made many impacts over the years in the Orlando area. They have:

  • Converted 70,140 sq ft of lawns
  • Harvested 3,840 of produce
  • Fed 4,101 locals
  • Educated 4,392 volunteers
  • Created 9 school gardens

On May 25th, IDEAS For Us teamed up with Cuplet Fern Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, FNPS Tarflower Chapter-Orange County to plant a residential pollinator garden at the house of Jim and Beth Hobart of Macbeth Studios.

Jim Hobart, a professional photographer, wanted to create an educational video on the many benefits of planting native plants and promote the integration of plants into our homes with footage from this event.

For more information on events in the Orlando area regarding to native and edible landscapes, please check out our social media pages for constant updates:

Volunteers working diligently at Jim Hobart’s house.
Sources:

1. http://floridayards.org/fyplants/
2. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/another-downside-to-your-classic-green-lawn-22716743/
3. http://www.gogreen.org/blog/the-environmental-impact-of-lawns
4. https://fleetfarming.org/impact/
5. https://greengroundswell.com/the-american-lawn-environmental-impact-of-turf-grass/2013/07/25/
6. https://wildlifewaystation.org/downloads/Native-Plants-Benefits_NPS_of_texas_n_EPA.pdf
7. https://greengroundswell.com/the-american-lawn-environmental-impact-of-turf-grass/2013/07/25/
8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvtDG6Tm1Mk