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Greenscaping: Another approach to cleaner air

By Staff | Jul 1, 2011

A major source of air pollution comes from lawnmowers and other gasoline-powered lawn care equipment. While lawnmowers have smaller engines compared to cars, they are not equipped with pollution-control devices, such as catalytic converters. Because of this lack of pollution control, running your lawnmower for one hour can put more pollutants into the atmosphere than running your car for eight hours. The Enivronmental Protection Agency estimates that 5 percent of air pollution comes from lawn mowers during the summer months.

Are there alternatives to using your lawnmower? Yes.

If you had less lawn to mow, you would not need to run your lawnmower as much. How can you accomplish this? Greenscaping. What is greenscaping? Think of it as landscaping at a higher level.

To start greenscaping your property, you need a plan. Ask yourself the following types of questions: Are there parts of the lawn that are unused? Are there parts of the lawn that are unsafe to mow? Do you want to provide shade for your house? Do you want to provide a habitat for birds and animals? Do you want to buffer winter winds? Do you want to add privacy to your property?

You may decide to greenscape a small part of their lawn or to greenscape the entire lawn. Regardless of the size of the project, breaking it down into small pieces sets the project up to succeed. Remember, greenscaping is not just “green;” it can be rock gardens or small ponds.

This column is to get you thinking about greenscaping. There are many sources of information to help you with this project.

Part of your plan will be what to plant. Making use of native grasses, plants and trees is a good place to start. They are native for a reason; they do well in a specific area. Non-native plants often require higher maintenance.

Greenscaping can be done for either aesthetic reasons or a more utilitarian purpose. A steep slope that is hard to mow may be an ideal location for planting ground cover. A remote corner of the yard that is unused may be better suited for native grasses or shrubs. A low area on your property may be suited for a small pond.

If greenscaping is not an option for you, there are a number of ways to maintain a chemical free lawn. This is good for the air and the environment. The EPA and National Wildlife Federation links below have information on this topic.

By having a plan and taking it one step at a time, any large project can be completed. Greenscaping can easily be accomplished over a number of growing seasons; it does not have to be done all at once.

Check out these resources: EPA (www.epa.gov/greenscapes), Jefferson County Extension Service at 304-728-7413 (www.ext.wvu.edu/jefferson/), Berkeley County Extension Service at 304-264-1936 (www.berkeleyextension.com/) and the National Wildlife Federation (www.nwf.org.).

Visit www.cleanairconnection.org for more information on this and other ozone topics.

– Mike Ball can be reached at 304-263-1743 x3602 and at mball@region9wv.com.