The basics of lawncare are that you provide a healthy environment for your turfgrass to grow, you mow it on a regular basis, and you try to keep pests at bay and from harming your grass to any great degree.
The healthy environment for your grass includes taking care of the soil. This is the heart of growing healthy grass. When you apply fertilizer to the lawn, it winds up in the soil. If the soil isn't healthy, then no amount of fertilizer is going to give you good results.
Healthy soils result from happy microbes. These guys love healthy soils. They live and breed in healthy soils. And when you have happy microbes, you'll continue having a healthy soil, and when you have healthy soil, you're more likely to have a healthy lawn.
So the real basis for a good lawn is a good soil. You have to do whatever is necessary to achieve this result. Everything else is aimed at achieving a healthy soil. Fertilizers, weed controls, aeration, dethatching, liming, topdressing are all ways of creating a healthy soil. It is the foundation of lawncare in America.
Let's face it, your lawn, yard, grass, turf, whatever you call it, is pretty cool stuff. Grass smells good when it gets cut. Nice Bluegrass lawns feel good to walk barefoot across. Fine fescue lawns look pretty in the fall when the first frost settles in. Plus, your lawn has that wonderful environmental thing going for it.
No matter what kind of grass you've got growing in your yard, the only thing all that lovely green turf asks from you is a little care, a little patience, and to be fed, watered and groomed occasionally.
An entire industry has grown out of trying to feed and trim that patch of green. The lawn care industry is now a multi-billion dollar affair that didn't exist 50 years ago, even though grasses have been around for centuries.
Where our culture once accepted weed-plants and grass growing side-by-side in our lawns, it wasn't until the advent of modern day selective herbicides that it became possible for us to isolate the grass plant from the weeds. Until the industrial machine starting seeing the potential in weed-free lawns, we were happy in our bliss of just accepting green spaces no matter what constituted those green areas. Marketing departments started to show us how your lawn could look just like a golf course or country club. For must of us, we became hooked on having near perfect lawns. Weeds in the lawn became unacceptable.
The American consumer had no concerns about our environment or what was best for the soil, results were all that mattered — and that's how things remained for a number of decades. That "results only" mind set is now beginning to change. More lawn care companies are offering organic programs, and taking extra precautions when using potentially harmful pesticides. In Canada, it is now illegal to apply pesticides. So too is our American culture beginning to make adjustments.
In the next decade we may see a complete ban on pesticides in the United States. Tighter restrictions or modifications of consumer products will probably make it tougher to kill weeds and bugs. Our population is growing so fast that we cannot proceed as we have in the past, for fear of harming our future.
A Harris Interactive survey reports that U.S. households spent in excess of $11.6 billion on lawn care in 2003.
Among the environmental benefits of a healthy, well-maintained lawn are:
Oxygen production: a 50'x50' backyard produces enough oxygen for a family of four.
Cooling effect: eight average healthy front lawns have the cooling effect of 70 tons of air conditioning - enough for 16 average homes.
Pollution control: dust and smoke particles from the atmosphere are trapped by blades of grass. Lawns also convert carbon dioxide to oxygen.