Homeowners all over the country take great pride in their lawns, but a lush, green lawn can do more than boost egos. A healthy lawn can reduce allergens and dust, increase the value of a home, and reduce erosion and runoff.
Of all Americans who are allergic to pollen-producing plants, 75 percent are allergic to ragweed. While a single ragweed plant may only live for one season, it produces up to one billion pollen grains during that time. A well-maintained lawn can help limit the amount of ragweed in the air, as it is typically free of many pollen-producing plants as well as other weed problems, such as poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. More than half of the U.S. population is allergic to these noxious weeds.
Boosting your real estate value
Nothing beats a first impression. When prospective buyers are searching for a new home, well-landscaped lawns and nearby parks are important factors. A study conducted by Virginia Tech University estimated that attractive landscaping can increase the value of a home anywhere from 5 to 11 percent, depending on location. It was also reported that landscape investments are recovered fully, and sometimes doubled by the increased home values.
“Potential buyers can be immediately swayed by an unsightly yard, leaving them to wonder if the lack of care and attention to the lawn has been carried to the inside of the house,” says Gray Mattern, a realtor in St. Petersburg, Florida. “If the buyer doesn’t get past the negative first impression, he or she may decide to bypass the home completely without looking at the interior. In this buyer’s market, it’s important to appeal to a wide range of prospective buyers.”
Reducing dust and soil erosion
Healthy grass holds soil in place and prevents runoff from being washed into lakes, rivers and streams. The University of Minnesota released results of a research study showing a lawn that is not fertilized actually has more runoff than a lawn that is properly fertilized, due to the increased health of the grass.
“Proper lawn care practices will be rewarded by an aesthetically pleasing property and will result in a variety of environmental benefits,” says Dr. Cathie Lavis, horticulture professor, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas. “A key factor to success is selecting the right grass variety for both your region and particular site conditions.”
How to maintain a healthy lawn
“Lawn maintenance includes timely mowing and watering. Additionally, grass quality is generally measured in terms of color, density and uniformity,” says Lavis. “Scheduled fertilization and an awareness of pests and their control will contribute to lawn quality.”
Two elements of good lawn health are proper pesticide use, when necessary, and proper fertilizer use to ensure the grass has the nutrients it needs to thrive. A properly fertilized, healthy lawn helps prevent weeds, while pesticides control weed populations already present or before they emerge. Proper pesticide use also keeps grubs and insects at bay. The key differences between lawn and garden pesticides and fertilizers are:
- A pesticide is the generic term for insecticides, herbicides and fungicides. Pesticides are meant to kill or control weeds, harmful insects, and fungal and other diseases. The benefit of pesticides is their ability to prevent and stop pest (weed, insect or disease) problems before they become out of control and threaten your lawn’s health.
- Fertilizers provide the proper nutrients to your grass, plants and trees so they can thrive. A fertilization program should include fertilizers that are formulated to meet the needs of your lawn.
Tips for Homeowners
When selecting and using pesticides and fertilizers, the product label directions must be followed to make sure the product works properly and is used in a safe and environmentally sound way. Product labels specify the amount of product that should be applied, how much is needed for your treatment conditions, and how to safely apply and store products.
Ask yourself these questions when choosing lawn and garden products to meet your needs:
- What insect, weed or other pest are you trying to control? What is the problem in your lawn? The label will tell you which product best fits the needs of your lawn and where it can be used.
- How big is your lawn? What treatment are you applying? Select the product that meets the needs of your lawn, and buy only what you need.
- Do you need a spreader to apply the product? If you have a small, localized problem, consider a ready-to-use spot treatment. Follow product label directions for spreader and spot applications. More is not better. Read the label and apply only the recommended amount.