The grass isn’t always greener

By Scott Smith - Guest columnist

What does one imagine when they hear the word “lawn”? Deep green grass that is cut and not overgrown or scalped? Today, society has high standards of property aesthetics. Many commit hours trying to achieve a perfect lawn. There is there a cost to these strict views of how one should tend to their property. Lawns are detrimental to the environment, and people are to blame including their laws.

Lawns serve no purpose but to harm the environment whether it be for looks or sports such as golf. According to GoGreen, a study by Cristina Milesi concluded that “… most of the lawns in the United States are not native to their area” and how much water the “United States would need to keep their lawns looking good” was “…estimated 200 gallons of fresh water, suitable for drinking, per person per day would be required…” If a species of grass is not native, it would be wasteful to transport to an area where it may not thrive easily as its native land, and the amount of water needed to keep lawns well is astounding. According to Permaculturenews, lawns stop vegetation from growing naturally. Therefore with the information on how bad grass lawns are for the environment then people need to find other plants to have in their lawns.

Even though lawns are unnecessary, people hold them to high standards. Lawns are supposed to be neat at all times, and people are to be a cause of this. According to GoGreen, “..lawn maintenance releases greenhouse gases, such as with the fuel needed for lawnmowers…” When people mow and trim their lawns frequently, the emissions add up quickly.

However, if one lives in a certain area, it may be the law to have a well-kept lawn. According to NRDC, a woman in Ohio was told to cut her lawn, which was overgrown with native plants, after “receiving a letter from the town clerk” or she would have to “pay a fine.” It may be hard for people to choose to have a more natural lawn than cutting it every week to avoid a fine. For example, according to Piqua, Ohio Code of Ordinances Title IX: General Regulations Chapter 91: Nuisances Section 91.38 Code 92.18 states: “whenever any tree, plant or shrubbery, or part thereof, or weeds and grass are growing in any street, alley, public place or on private property, and is trimmed or removed by the city, then, after the work is done, the city shall give notice … to the owner of the lot or parcel of land…” In this city’s case, if the city has to remove or do anything with the city’s equipment, the property owner will receive a bill. A solution to this problem would be having the laws changed about lawns and how they can be presented to the public. People’s involvement with lawns is not helping the environment with mowing and releasing emissions and with laws put in place to prohibit other lawn alternatives to grass.

There are more ways to have a grass-free natural lawn. According to NRDC, there is a “No-Mow Movement” in which “…homeowners [convert] part or all of their lawns to a less thirsty form of landscape…” This movement or practice is a great step toward being more eco-friendly and helps combat environmental deterioration. According to GoGreen, options for grass lawns “…could also be replaced with clover, wildflowers or a meadow…” These are some ways to have an alternative lawn and get rid of grass lawns.

Lawns are damaging the environment with mass water consumption and halts natural vegetation growth. Also, humans are also adding to this problem which can be easily solved by changing laws or putting more native vegetation in their lawns. With this idea of how lawns are harming the environment, people can realize how grass lawns contribute to that harm and how they could prevent absurd water consumption by planting more native vegetation from their local area.

Works Cited

“Piqua.” American Legal Publishing,

Talbot, Mary. “More Sustainable (and Beautiful) Alternatives to a Grass Lawn.” NRDC, 11 July 2018,

“The Environmental Impact of Lawns.” Go Green, 25 Aug. 2017,

“Why Our Lawns Are Bad for the Environment and How to Change Them for the Better.” The Permaculture Research Institute, 3 June 2016,

By Scott Smith

Guest columnist

Reach Scott Smith is a resident of Houston, Ohio, and a student at Houston High School who is a College Credit Plus student at Edison Community College.

Reach Scott Smith is a resident of Houston, Ohio, and a student at Houston High School who is a College Credit Plus student at Edison Community College.