Do we “need” grass lawns?
Background: My wife and I often go hiking and rafting in the high desert of the Southwest. We always get into a discussion especially as we fly in/out of Las Vegas or Albuquerque of why people would move to the desert and need to have green grass. All that watering is fed by the Colorado River that is now at a historical low. They are in a severe drought.
The same could apply now to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. We now should not be as free with our water use and certainly not with our runoff. It would seem to me that if we were to eliminate by substitution a good portion of our green lawns, we could greatly improve the bay. It would require change and publicity to cause it to become popular. It would require a mass change in mindset.
Proposal: I would like to begin a trend toward no mowed grass and change the complex of the communities surrounding the Chesapeake Bay to indigenous plants, more natural settings, rain gardens etc. In short, I would like to create the perception so that a green grass yard causes the same reaction as do smokers when viewed by non-smokers. To achieve this, I would like to focus on the properties bordering on the bay as a circle and increase that circle concentrically as a percentage of success can be measured.
I would like to bring together a small group of motivated representatives of key organizations (River Watches, Community Groups, HOA’s, etc.) to discuss the feasibility and the gain if the goal were achieved. That meeting would determine the next step.
(Note: I have caused similar “impossible projects” like this in the past and had complete success. When the goal is worthy, the task can happen. They all began with an idea and a small group of messengers)
As principal parts of the process,
- I would suggest a strong effort to get HOA’s to relax their grass requirement.
- We would need to develop and illustrate grass options that are acceptably pleasing
- Rainwater, in addition to barrels would be diverted to gardens.
- Rainwater distribution methods would be developed and the information disseminated to barrel and garden owners.
- Awards would be given to complying communities
- Media would play a strong part and relevant publicity would be as important as any other element of the process.
- A new group should not be formed but rather coordinate the existing interests and groups with a commonly evolved plan, goal, and requirements.
- We would need to find who gains commercially from our success to enlist their help.
- We would need to anticipate a strong opposition from those companies who would lose sales and, where possible, illustrate replacement sales. Perhaps a measurement of our success would be the drop in the sale of fertilizers for home use.
- It would be best if this “movement” were not attributed to an individual or individuals or single organization but rather to the collective of which there could be many spokesmen.
- If your neighbors came together to vote on this, would you support the effort?
- Do you think your neighborhood or HOA would support such an effort?
- Should your town encourage such an effort?
- Do you have knowledge that this, if it were significantly accomplished, would it have a measureable effect on the Bay?
- Have you considered xeriscape for your yard? (Info on Xeriscape: http://landscaping.about.com/cs/lazylandscaping/g/xeriscape.htm )
- Do you know of an existing organization whose goals this change would help them meet?
- Do you know of such a movement as this already underway?