April 22, 2016 is Earth Day, so it’s a great time to think about how to keep our lawns—and the planet—healthy and green. Here are some eco-friendly, healthy lawn care tips to help your yard look its best without harming the Earth.

Conserving water. Did you know that many lawns only need an inch of water each week? It’s easy to be wasteful when we water the yard, so the first rule of thumb is to water only when necessary. Other ways to water wisely:

  • Water the lawn in the early morning when it’s cooler and less likely to evaporate.
  • Adjust your sprinklers carefully so they are aimed at the grass and not watering sidewalks or driveways.
  • A great way to save water—and money—is to make use of rainwater. Direct rain from your gutters and downspouts directly onto the lawn or garden—or collect it in rain barrels that can be found at your local gardening stores.
  • Choose plants and grasses that are drought and heat tolerant.

Mow high. Mowing high is much better for your lawn and the planet. And since taller grass crowds out unwanted weeds and gives the appearance of a thick, lush lawn, it looks better as well! Leaving your grass longer also helps it retain moisture by keeping the soil shaded from the drying sun. Setting your lawn mower at 2.5” to 3” should do the trick.

Mower maintenance. Earth Day is a good time to give your lawn mower a once-over. Are the blades sharp? Keeping the blades at their sharpest helps the grass heal quicker, and therefore helps avoid common diseases, insect infestations, and molds. Also check the mower for leaks. If it’s leaking gas or oil, it is damaging your grass and plants—and our planet. Or, better yet, get rid of the gas mower and get one that is battery powered, electric, or hand-powered.

Make the most out of compost. Leaves, grass clippings, and food scraps are great for composting, which is a natural way of recycling decaying organic resources into fertile soil. This soil can then be used to fertilize plants, trees, and gardens. You can also use a mower with a mulching blade that returns clippings to the yard where they will break down and feed your lawn with nutrients.

Plant more trees. Yards that have large grassy areas require more maintenance. Adding more trees and plants to your landscaping provides shade for these grassy areas. The more shade, the less watering your lawn will need.

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