Why the insect expert at Longwood Gardens wants you to redesign this grass, this lawn

Artificial turf as a residential replacement for grass is a worrying trend.

Reports from the UK at Malaysia here in the United States reveal that this practice is attracting worldwide criticism.

Artificial grass seems to be a solution to easily meet the expectation of a solid green expanse around the house. A growing number of homeowners are buying into this idea, with the artificial turf market up 15% since 2017 and with residential properties being identified as the biggest area of ​​opportunity, according to a 2020 report from the Synthetic Turf Council.

In truth, fake lawns require maintenance and replacement. A wire cutter 2021 report artificial turf is estimated to cost up to $10 per square foot to install, with total costs in the thousands, and likely needs to be replaced every eight to 10 years.

Fake lawns harm the ecological, individualand community levels. Ecologically, fake lawns provide no place to live. A Columbia University study recorded temperatures on artificial turf up to 60 degrees warmer than live grass, becoming hot enough to burn skin with prolonged exposure.

Luckily, you have some good options to not only buck the artificial grass trend, but also support nature at the same time.

The power of the flowers :Stroll through the Delaware Botanical Gardens to discover the natural beauties of Sussex County

Your first option is to start today: change the way you manage existing living turf.

Many homeowners need lawn space for specific reasons. Children and pets need places to play after all! For your lawn, use sustainable management practices such as those recommended in the Northeast Organic Farming Association’s Organic Land Care Principles. Don’t use synthetic fertilizers, which build up as salts in your soil. Mow your lawn to 3 inches or more to promote deeper roots that trap more water, minimizing irrigation needs. There are even native grass options like sedges that you can use to replace traditional lawns.

These sustainable practices eliminate the potential negative effects of traditionally managed turf – a good place to start! However, they alone cannot make turf a biologically productive ecosystem.

Wild ginger and wood aster make an attractive and diverse ground cover in the shade.

Doug Tallamy, a professor at the University of Delaware and co-founder of Homegrown National Park, notes that turf lawns cannot support food webs and are disconnected from their larger natural system. So once you manage sustainably, reduce your lawn space to the minimum you really need.

When you cut back the turf, replace it with alternative “lawns” of native ground cover. “ground coverusually refers to a plant that grows low and spreads to effectively cover large areas.

According to the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, ground covers help stabilize soil and improve its texture, retain and use water efficiently, and lower soil temperature through shading, among other things. many other advantages. They provide nectar for bumblebees, are the food source for caterpillars that become butterflies, create seeds for birds, and form a habitat that is home to many animals.

After:Longwood Gardens travel guide: What you need to know if you go

Last, but not least, a reason to adopt native ground covers: once established, they generally require less physical labor and fewer other inputs from you!

By now, of course, you are convinced to grow alternative ground covers. But how do you know what to grow?

Fortunately, there is advice available from your state extension agencynearby native plant nurseries and your local public gardenswhich you can consult with the American Public Gardens Association.

Here in southeastern Pennsylvania, where Longwood Gardens is located, wild strawberry (scientific name Fragaria virginiana), green and gold (Chrysogonum virginianum), and golden groundsel (Packera aurea) are beautiful in full sun.

Foamflower and creeping phlox create a bright explosion in shady areas in spring.

In the shade, mossflower (Tiarella cordifolia), wild ginger (Canadian Asarum), and bigleaf aster (Eurybia macrophylla) grow beautifully lush where traditional grass often struggles. Create even more beauty by sustainable growth other native plants in your new ground cover following the principles of the Ecological Landscape Alliance.

Keep in mind that pulling out and replacing a lawn is a process. It takes time, planning and work. You will try things. You will succeed at some and fail at others. I know I have. It’s fun!

Over time, your garden will transform into a beautiful, sustainable and supportive extension of nature.

Ryan Gott, Ph.D., is an entomologist and a member of the Longwood Gardens Fellows program. He comes to Longwood from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he worked as an integrated pest management specialist in the medical cannabis industry. Previously, he was associate director of IPM at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh. Gott is a strong advocate for sustainable landscaping and has a particular interest in plants native to eastern North America. He earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Purdue University and his doctorate in entomology from the University of Maryland.

No more open call

After:Open call: Arts and cultural groups, we want to hear from you

After:Open Call: Delaware Institute for the Arts in Education Celebrates 40 Years of Service

After:Open call: City Theater Company’s new season tells a story Wilmington wants to hear

Source link