Statistically Speaking: Lawns by the Numbers

Huffington Post Comments (8)

It’s summertime, and the living is easy — unless you live in a neighborhood like mine, where the endless drone of lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and other assorted garden care equipment greet us every day. Not to mention our needy lawns. We Americans love our lawns, no question. But maybe all that love is clouding our judgment. Let’s look at how the American love affair with yards and lawns impacts more than just our wallets.

Amount of lawn in the United States: 40.5 million acres
Total amount of money spent on lawn care: $30 billion

Percent of residential water used outside: 30 to 60%
Amount of water used daily for residential irrigation: more than 7 billion gallons

Amount of fertilizers used on lawns annually: 3 million tons
Percent reduction of nitrogen fertilizer needed if clippings left on lawn: about 50%

Amount of synthetic pesticides used on lawns annually: over 30 thousand tons
Amount spent on pesticides in 2001 for home and garden use: almost $2.2 billion
Ratio of pesticide use per acre by the average homeowner versus the average farmer: 10 to 1

Of the 32 Pesticides Routinely Used by a Major Lawn Service Company

Percent that include known or suspected endocrine disrupters: 13%
Percent that include known or suspected reproductive toxins: 22%
Percent that include ingredients that are banned or restricted in other countries: 41%
Percent that include possible carcinogens: 53%
Percent that pose a threat to the environment, including water supplies, aquatic organisms, and non-targeted insects: 100%
Number of households served by lawn care companies in 2003: 26 million

Amount of gasoline burned annually caring for lawns: 800 million gallons
Amount of gasoline spilled by the Exxon Valdez: 10.8 million gallons
Amount of gas spilled annually refilling gas mowers: 17 million gallons

Sources

“Outdoor Water Use in the United State” -
www.epa.gov/watersense/pubs/outdoor.htm

“Mapping and Modeling the Biogeochemical Cycling of Turf Grasses in the United States” -
www.springerlink.com/content/l647rg4540731668/

Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the Transportation Sector, 1990-3003 -
www.epa.gov/otaq/climate/420r06003.pdf

Environmental Impacts of Intensive Lawn Maintenance” -
arboretum.conncoll.edu/salt/impacts.html

2000-2001 Pesticide Market Estimates: Sales -
www.epa.gov/opp00001/pestsales/01pestsales/sales2001.htm

A Source Book on Natural Landscaping for Public Officials -
www.epa.gov/glnpo/greenacres/toolkit/chap2.html

Natural Landscaping at EPA’s Laboratory -
www.epa.gov/ne/lab/pdfs/LabLandscapeFactsheet.pdf

LESCO Unveils Growth Plans -
www.lawnandlandscape.com/news/news.asp?ID=1266

Lawn Care -
www.blackburncarter.com/rice/documents/LawnCare.pdf

Bormann, H. F., D. Balmori, and G. T. Geballe. Redesigning the American Lawn: A Search for Environmental Harmony, Second Edition. Yale University Press, New Haven. 2001.

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