Rethink Traditional Lawns That Cause Pollution And Water Shortages

Target: Marcia Fudge, Secretary of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Goal: Support alternative lawn ideas that could enhance carbon sequestration and diminish harmful emissions and water shortages.

Lawns are practically a fixture of the American suburban experience. Many towns and cities utilize these patches of grass to tout how they are greening their communities. Yet mounting evidence suggests that the typical lawn or yard may be doing more environmental harm than good.

For one, grass itself does not provide much ecological diversity that would enable living beings, from the smallest microorganisms to wildlife, to thrive. In addition, grass is a much smaller botanical fixture made even smaller when it is trimmed. Therefore, it may not provide much benefit as a carbon absorber when compared to larger plants. And humans are vigilant about maintaining their lawns, which means copious amounts of harmful fertilizer, equally detrimental emissions from gas-powered lawn mowers and leaf blowers, and excessive amounts of water even in places experiencing water shortages.

For all of these reasons, researchers are increasingly recommending alternatives to the traditional grass lawn. Such recommendations include meadows, fruit forests, clover coverings, and xenogardening that involves the cultivation of plants native to the region. Unfortunately, city planners across the country often actively discourage and even ban these beneficial solutions.

Sign the petition below to urge these landscape visionaries to rethink their love affair with the lawn.


Dear Secretary Fudge,

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, lawns consume a full third of the nation’s public water supply. Over 200 million gas gallons are put into lawn maintenance, which—together with fertilizer—sends a host of toxic particles into our atmosphere every day. We get little benefit from the traditional lawn in return, as a trimmed yard area offers minimal aid in carbon absorption.

Despite these drawbacks, turf grass covers roughly 40 million acres of America’s lands. Urban planners and suburbs have essentially made lawns a centerpiece of “greening” efforts. The most troubling aspect of this centuries-long trend, aside from the fact that it arose from aristocracy and class disparities, is that many leaders hold hostility toward alternatives. City planners across the nation often prohibit the growing of fruits and edible plants for public landscaping purposes. Other options like meadows, clovers, and xenogardening are met with equal indifference.

In the fight against the climate crisis, this country must take every measure at its disposal to innovate and survive. Please advocate for alternative lawn proposals in the development and revitalization of urban communities nationwide.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Brett Sayles

One Comment

  1. C Bradley says:

    I am in the process of this. There are so many options – gorgeous English gardens, bright native/pollinators, etc. Contact your local Master Gardeners for ideas on how to eliminate the lawn and how to choose the right plants for your climate and for the kind of yard you want.

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