Letting the grass grow under your feet is no bad thing

There is an old saying that the best thing about a lawn is that it provides a place where weeds can stand out and be recognized. And that myth of a high maintenance patch of green that exploded into weeds 10 minutes after you put the lawnmower away, led to a boom in tarmac, cobble lock and concrete drive-ins extending to the entire sq footage of the garden. Shame because an unkempt law provided play opportunities to children and maintained local insect biodiversity, while a manicured lawn added aesthetic value to your home and had some hidden health rewards awarded by its upkeep.

To begin with, hand mowing that lawn can burn as much as 182 calories per half hour of activity, a further 30 minutes raking clippings or leaves burns 162 calories and to finish with a watering session add another 61 calories. Just compare that to a spin class, aerobic dance session or workout class where during high intensity aerobic exercises on average 95 calories are burnt every ten minutes for 57kg (8 stone) individual, 115 calories every ten minutes for a 68kg (10 stone) individual while 134 calories are burnt off every ten minutes for a 80kg (12 stone) individual and 153 calories burnt every ten minutes for a 91kg (14 stone) individual. Maintaining a lawn could be a powerful aid in keeping or getting fit.

If you were to replace a paved area with a new lawn, then sodding with instant turf is convenient and as easy as rolling out a rug, the process will help you burn 404 calories over a single hour of not too intensive labour: lifting, placing, cutting, watering in all work a range of muscles and provide good exercise to the body. And before you get out of breathe thinking about it , do bear in mind that 2.4 meters sq (Twenty-five square feet) of actively growing grass will convert through photosynthesis, enough carbon dioxide to supply one person their daily requirement of oxygen per day.

Traditionally the lawn provides a convenient, safe and clean space for children and adults of all ages to enjoy the outdoors. To partake in sports or leisure activities, as a play ground, entertainment location, enjoy a family day, a ‘friends over’ barbeque, personal sun bathing, morning yoga or just for flat out relaxing. In recent years gardens have become popular as party spaces, a lawn being near essential for marquee or bouncy castle. But lawns have much more to offer and should be appreciated as both a valuable commodity and important resource.

One economic benefit of a lawn is its role in increased real estate value: When it comes time to sell your home or carry out a valuation for a home equity loan, you will receive a higher value if you have a well maintained lawn. That comes from a combination of factors. Lawns help frame a garden border and plant populated or not, they beautify the entrance to your home. Lawns set a tone to a neighbourhood. They create a positive psychological impact by associations with refinement and also a relaxing space. Survey key words associated with lawns include ‘serenity’, ‘privacy’, ‘home’, ‘happiness’.

Lawns have many environmental benefits. Now there are growing movements and personalities across the globe that want every homeowner to take up their lawn and plant a vegetable garden, if you can, go for it, but if you are not into it or that’s not practical to you, that ‘s ok, because a lawn is not the demon thing it gets branded as by such movements. For a start, lawns keeps soil alive and healthy due to the constant microbial activity of actively growing grass. Common sense notes that lawns prevent soil erosion but even more importantly lawns help reduce water run-off and will increase the water table in a positive way by filtering the surface water before it penetrates the soil. An average healthy lawn absorbs rainfall at least six times more effectively than a wheat field, and four times more effectively than a hay field. It is worth noting that a thick turf-grass lawn will enable 15 times less runoff than a lower quality lawn.

Lawns help with climate control; Several American studies have concluded that the front lawns of eight average houses have approximately the cooling effect of 70 tons of air conditioning, a positive occurrence in built up urban areas and during hotter summers. Lawns are also a very successful element of the urban ecosystem to control pollution and improve air quality; not just with oxygen release but with absorbing and fixing airborne pollutants. Grass traps particular matter including dust and pollen, removing those irritants from our breathable air zone and lessening potential for allergic reactions. While below the lush green , in the root system and layers of soil, beneficial microorganism associated with grass enthusiastically breakdown those various pollutants and render them safe.

There are many forms of pollution and urban irritants that grass can help abate, subtly it decreases noise and reflected light. And when it comes to the fight against pollution remember to keep your lawn green: a re-seed and organic feed to elbow out weeds beats chemical feed and weeds. Excessive lawn fertilization promotes rapid waste as well as rapid growth which triggers the necessity to increase mowing frequency. Grass clipping and leaves mowed or blown out onto roadside or street account for phosphate loading of surface water – always compost or use brown bin collections. Utilize organic lawn treatments to pest and problems such as a contact solution of lemon juice and vinegar to kill weeds without resorting to chemicals.

If you still think a manicured lawn is too much work, despite the rewards then remember where we started and let it grow out, have a loose maintenance regime and let your grass become a place where weeds can stand out and be recognized. Recognised by the wealth of butterflies that lay their eggs on weeds and draw nectar alongside other pollinators from weeds. Recognized by the birds that forage for weed seeds and plant material for nest building.

All in all… Wild, manicured or somewhere in between, its good to have the grass growing under our feet.

About The Holistic Gardener

author of wellness books, columnist, keynote speaker.
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