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Seven Tips for Environmentally Friendly Lawn Care

Cat in Backyard

Why are lawns commonly made of grass?

Grass was brought to North America during English colonization. In the history that followed, only the elite and wealthy could afford to have and maintain grass yards.

Today, many people still feel pressure to maintain the perfect grass lawn—a smooth carpet of vibrant green grass. Attitudes are shifting and folks are recognizing that we can take care of our lawns in environmentally friendly ways.

Cutting grass using scissors

Tips for Environmentally Friendly Lawn Care

1. Don’t cut the grass too short

Person mowing a lawn

The ideal height is 6 to 8 cm (2.5 to 3 inches).

Longer grass creates shade, which protects the soil from drying out. By keeping moisture in the soil, your lawn will survive hot weather better.

The shade also reduces weed growth. Weed seeds are in our yards waiting to grow, but they need sunlight to do so, cutting your grass too short gives weeds the opportunity to germinate and start crowding out your grass.

2. Keep grass clippings on the lawn

Grass flying out of lawnmower

Also known as grasscycling or mulching, cut pieces of grass will decompose and naturally fertilize your lawn—feeding it nutrients, like nitrogen. Plus, you won’t have to empty a lawnmower bag anymore.

3. Alternatively, compost your grass clippings

Yard waste is bags

You can compost yard waste too.

If you don’t have your own compost, there might be a program for yard waste collection in your region. In Winnipeg, the city collects yard waste every two weeks from April to November.

4. Remove invasive plants before they spread

Thistle with a bee

Keep an eye out for Manitoba's invasive plants.

There are many methods for removing unwelcomed plants, but the best may be yanking the plant out by its root.

5. Don’t use chemical sprays to remove weeds or synthetic fertilizers

Person spraying chemicals in yard

These chemicals can harm the birds, bugs, and earthworms that are essential to maintaining the health of your yard.

During storms, excess fertilizers and pesticides can wash off your lawn into storm drains, which send water immediately into our rivers and lakes.

6. Do not overwater your garden and avoid watering your grass with your garden hose

Sprinkler watering grass yard

Overwatering increases run-off and the risk of substances going down the drains that shouldn’t (like fertilizers).

Our freshwater resources are limited. Consider installing a rain barrel to collect and use rainwater for your plants.

7. Consider replacing parts (or all) of your yard with native grasses and other species

Native grasses

The species of grass that we use in our yards isn’t that great. The roots are not deep, meaning they are not hearty for our extreme climates and they do not help preserve soil erosion. Consider planting native grasses in sections that are harder to mow (like along fences) or covering your yard with mixes of grass and plants (like clover).

Learn more Lake Friendly actions you can take at home beyond the care of your yard.

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