Lawn Transformations

Maianthemum racemosum (False Solomon's-Seal) with Rhododendron

Many homeowners are looking to reduce the burden of landscape maintenance and are choosing a natural, Northwest landscape that can be both beautiful and healthy. If we can stop pouring chemicals on lawns, and start improving soil and vegetation to filter runoff from roads and roofs, then orcas might have a fighting chance.

Two-cycle lawn mowers are extremely polluting: “One hour of mowing is the equivalent of driving 350 miles in terms of volatile organic compounds” (VOC’s). “Gas mowers represent 5% of U.S. air pollution” counting 54 million Americans who mow their lawns every weekend. They spill over 17 million gallons of fuel each year while refueling – more than the Exxon Valdez – and in the normal course of use, older two-cycle engines release 25-30% of their oil and gas unburned… extremely toxic to the operator. If not for the exercise, mowing and blowing pollution would reduce lifespans – always use a respirator for small-engine operation. Mowing also kills pollinators, 70% of which are ground-nesting. Turf installed over construction-compacted soils does very little to slow toxic stormwater runoff, and the fertilizers and pesticides required to keep lawns green further harms Puget Sound, salmon, orcas, and the people who eat salmon.

Here’s a DYI step-by-step guide to transform your lawn (on page 4). It’s time to change our imported aesthetic.

Before: boring

Transformation: grant-funded by King County Wastewater Treatment Division

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