People who are knowledgeable about the environmental importance of gardening choices sometimes refer to lawns and geometrical hedges as green concrete.
These types of plantings share certain visual similarities with regular concrete: they are flat, square-cornered, uniform in color, and unchanging. They also have some ecological similarities: like concrete, lawns are not very effective at absorbing water, cleaning the air, providing habitat for wildlife, moderating the local temperature, or performing other ecosystem services.
In fact, by some measures, lawns are worse for the environment than concrete. How is this possible? The answer is maintenance.
Concrete is environmentally damaging to produce and install. Once in place, however, it more or less just sits there until the end of its lifespan. A lawn, on the other hand, has little impact while it’s being planted, but then consumes a steady supply of water, fossil fuels, and toxic chemicals in an unproductive cycle of maintenance that can continue for many, many years.
It is worth considering: if you own a home for thirty years and mow the lawn every week, what will you have to show for it at the end? Will you look back with pride that for three decades, you prevented grass from growing? If the answers to these questions are unsatisfying, it may be time to consider alternative gardening practices.