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Gardening: Resources for enriching the plants and animals in your backyard.

Habitat Resources: Problems With Traditional Landscaping

  • 50 Million acres (twice the size of PA) in turf grass in the U.S.; about half of this is residential. (US News and World Report, 10/28/96)
  • 30% of water consumed on East Coast goes to watering lawns; 60% on the West Coast. (Redesigning the American Lawn)
  • A 1000 sq. ft. lawn requires 10,000 gallons of water per summer to maintain a "green" look. (U.S. News and World Report, 10/28/96)
  • 18% of municipal solid waste collected in composed of organic yard waste. This is 31 million tons a year. (EPA's Consumer Handbook for Reducing Solid Waste)
  • Average suburban lawn deluged with 10 times as much chemical pesticides per acre as farmland. (Yale Graduate Study)
  • Over 70 million lbs of chemical pesticides are applied to lawns in the U.S. each year. (U.S. News and World Report, 10/28/96)
  • Over 70 million tons of fertilizers are applied to residential lawns and gardens annually.
  • 50-75% of homeowners store pesticides in unlocked areas within reach of childern and 50% don't read the warning labels before pesticide use. Of the most commonly used lawn pesticides, 13 can cause cancer, 14 can cause birth defects, 11 can interfere with reproduction, and 21 can damage the nervous system. (EPA)
  • Where pesticides are regularly applied, 60-90% of earthworms are killed. Earthworms are invaluble for soil health. (PA Dept. of Ag.)
  • Detectable levels of pesticides are found in over 10% of drinking water wells.
  • In the Mississippi watershed, a study found that 44% of nitrogen and 28% of phosphorous applied ends up washed into the River and eventually the Gulf of Mexico causing significant environmental problems.
  • $25,000,000 spent every year by Americans on lawns. (Yale)
  • A 40 x 100' lawn produces 1,200 lbs of clippings per year costing $75 in Philadelphia to collect and dispose. (Phila. Streets Dept.)
  • 5% of hydrocarbon emissions in urban areas in summer can be attributed to lawn and garden equipment. (National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Lab, Ann Arbor)
  • A lawn mower emits as much hydrocarbon in 1 hour as a typical auto driven 50 miles. One hour of chain saw operation equates to the emissions of an auto driven 200 miles. (National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Lab, Ann Arbor)
  • Per hour of operation, a lawn mower emits 10-12 times as much hydrocarbon as a typical auto; a string trimmer emits 21 times more and a leaf blower 34 times more.
  • A typical 4 stroke lawnmower spends 40 hour per year, the equivalent to a one-week vacation, mowing the lawn.
  • Harmful invasive plants out compete native plants reducing biodiversity, habitat value. As an example, kudzu now covers more than 7 million acres in the U.S., mostly in the southeast. (USFWS)
  • It costs an average of $700 per acre per year to maintain a lawn; whereas a wildflower meadow costs $30/acre.



Habitat Resources