Your Yard Goes Grassroots

By on July 25, 2008 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Each of us can collectively make major strides for animals through individual efforts. Our dietary decisions, the products we purchase, our outreach to elected officials, hands-on work in our communities—cumulatively these actions and more add up to a powerful force in moving toward a more humane society.

But you can also make a difference for animals in your own backyard. Literally.

It’s true; the grass is “greener” on the other side. The pristine, manicured lawns that are the pride of the neighborhood, the epitome of suburban life, aren’t so lush for animals or the environment.

Eastern box turtle in grass

Common pesticides and weed-killers are unhealthy for children, pets, and wildlife. An average-size lawn guzzles about 10,000 gallons of water over and above rainfall. The average lawnmower emits as much pollution in one hour as eight cars. And a one-acre lawn generates almost six tons of grass clippings a year—nearly 1,000 garbage bags’ full.

But lawns don’t have to be so consumptive; with a simple shift in thinking they can instead support a greater diversity of life. Our Wild Neighbors staff are spreading the message that yards can be naturally lovely. When you give up high-maintenance grass in favor of environmentally friendly landscaping, you’ll create a space that’s safer for children and pets to play in, you’ll attract wildlife, and you’ll save time and money.

On our website we’ve laid out the options and the benefits. It may seem jolting to even consider the idea, since it’s such a norm in suburban America, and since we also want to conform with what the neighborhood and community standards are. But try taking some of the steps we recommend, no matter how small of a piece of land you start with. If you don’t have a yard, think about your neighbors, friends, and family members who do, and see if they’re up to the challenge.

If you’ve already made some of these switches, I’d like to hear how it’s going. Are you seeing more wildlife? Share your stories—or if you have any pictures of your natural lawn makeover, send them in—I’ll publish them on the blog.

With your help, we can make backyard habitats a new kind of status symbol.

Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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