An initiative sponsored by the Ocean River Institute in Cambridge is designed to encourage people to participate in a friendly competition pledging to keep established lawns natural without the application of quick-release fertilizer and no chemical pesticides or herbicides. The winning towns are those with the greatest number of households pledging not to mow their lawn sooner than every two weeks, and to keep their lawns natural without the spread of quick release fertilizers and harmful pesticides and herbicides.
Hold the Quick Release Fertilizer
Grass draws carbon-dioxide out of the air for photosynthesis to produce oxygen and carbohydrates (liquid carbon). About half of the manufactured carbon is pushed out as root exudate to build soil. For every ton of root exudate, grasses pull out of the air eight tons of carbon dioxide. By not using quick-release fertilizer, at all, lawns strengthen symbiotic relations with fungi and bacteria to become more lush. More vibrant lawns better compensate for Newton’s heat islands.
Stopping the spread of quick-release fertilizers on residential lawns will not only help the local wildlife, it will also stop lawns from polluting and causing harmful algal blooms, and it will help us fight climate change by drawing down more carbon dioxide, storing it in soils for thousands of years.
Mow Less to Help Wildlife
Additionally, cutting lawns every two weeks causes an increase in the amount of wildlife. Natural lawns in Springfield that were not watered and cut every two or three weeks were found to have 36 species of plants growing between the grass blades and 94 species of bees (Lerman, Contosa, Milam & Bang, 2018. To mow or to mow less: Lawn mowing frequency affects bee abundance and diversity in suburban yards, Biological Conservation 221 (2018) 160–174.) Interestingly, lawns cut every two weeks had a higher diversity of bee species. Bees do not like being struck by water droplets when lawns are watered.
P.S. If you are not already a member, you can join Green Newton and get as a gift a sign supporting pesticide free lawns.