A lawn is an area of land planted with grasses or (rarely) other durable plants, which are maintained at

a short height and used for aesthetic and recreational purposes. Common characteristics of a lawn are

that it is composed only of grass species, it is subject to weed and pest control, it is subject to

practices aimed at maintaining its green color, and it is regularly mowed to ensure an acceptable

length, although these characteristics are not binding as a definition. In recreational contexts, the

specialised names turf, pitch, field or green may be used, depending on the sport and the continent.

The term lawn, referring to a managed grass space, dates to no earlier than the 16th century. Tied to

suburban expansion and the creation of the household aesthetic, the lawn is an important aspect of

the interaction between the natural environment and the constructed urban and suburban space.


Lawn is a cognate of llan which is derived from the Common Brittonic word landa (Old French: launde)

that originally means heath, barren land, or clearing.



Gardens of the Château de Vaux­le­Vicomte, designed by André Le Nôtre at Versailles.

Lawns may have originated as grassed enclosures within early medieval settlements used for

communal grazing of livestock, as distinct from fields reserved for agriculture. The word "laune" is first

attested in 1540, and is likely related to the Celtic Brythonic word lan/llan/laun, which has the meaning

of enclosure, often in relation to a place of worship.

Lawns became popular with the aristocracy in northern Europe from the Middle Ages onward. The

early lawns were not always distinguishable from pasture fields. It is speculated the association

between the word "pasture" and biblical mentions made lawns a cultural affinity for some[citation

needed]. The damp climate of maritime Western Europe in the north made lawns possible to grow and

manage. They were not a part of gardens in other regions and cultures of the world until contemporary

influence[clarification needed].

Before the invention of mowing machines in 1830, lawns were managed very differently. They were an

element of wealthy estates and manor houses, and in some places were maintained by the labor- intensive methods of scything and shearing. In most situations, they were also pasture land

maintained through grazing by sheep or other livestock. Areas of grass grazed regularly by rabbits,

horses or sheep over a long period often form a very low, tight sward similar to a modern lawn. This

was the original meaning of the word "lawn", and the term can still be found in place names. Some

forest areas where extensive grazing is practiced still have these seminatural lawns. For example, in

the New Forest, England, such grazed areas are common, and are known as lawns, for example

Balmer Lawn. Lawns similar to those of today first appeared in France and England in the 1700s when

André Le Nôtre designed the gardens of Versailles that included a small area of grass called the "tapis

vert" or "green carpet".

The English lawn

Capability Brown's landscape design at Badminton House.

It was not until the 17th and 18th century, that the garden and the lawn became a place created first as

walkways and social areas. They were made up of meadow plants, such as camomile, a particular

favorite. In the early 17th century, the Jacobean epoch of gardening began; during this period, the

closely cut "English" lawn was born. By the end of this period, the English lawn was a symbol of status

of the aristocracy and gentry; it showed that the owner could afford to keep land that was not being

used for a building, or for food production.

In the early 18th century, landscape gardening for the aristocracy entered into a golden age, under the

direction of William Kent and Lancelot "Capability" Brown. They refined the English landscape garden

style with the design of natural, or "romantic", estate settings for wealthy Englishmen.Brown,

remembered as "England's greatest gardener", designed over 170 parks, many of which still endure.

His influence was so great that the contributions to the English garden made by his predecessors

Charles Bridgeman and William Kent are often overlooked.

His work still endures at Croome Court (where he also designed the house), Blenheim Palace,

Warwick Castle, Harewood House, Bowood House, Milton Abbey (and nearby Milton Abbas village), in

traces at Kew Gardens and many other locations. His style of smooth undulating lawns which ran

seamlessly to the house and meadow, clumps, belts and scattering of trees and his serpentine lakes

formed by invisibly damming small rivers, were a new style within the English landscape, a

"gardenless" form of landscape gardening, which swept away almost all the remnants of previous

formally patterned styles. His landscapes were fundamentally different from what they replaced, the

well­known formal gardens of England which were criticised by Alexander Pope and others from the


1803 painting of the main elements of the English landscape garden.

The open "English style" of parkland first spread across Britain and Ireland, and then across Europe,

such as the Garden à la française being replaced by the French landscape garden. By this time, the

word "lawn" in England had semantically shifted to describe a piece of a garden covered with grass

and closely mown. Wealthy families in America during the late 18th century also began mimicking

English landscaping styles. In 1780, the Shakers began the first industrial production of high­quality

grass seed in North America, becoming a primary supplier as there were few other competing

companies. The increased availability of these grasses meant they were in plentiful supply for parks

and residential areas, not just livestock.

Thomas Jefferson has long been given credit for being the first person to attempt an English­style lawn

at his estate, Monticello, in 1806, but many others had tried to emulate English landscaping before he

did. Over time, an increasing number towns in New England began to emphasize grass spaces. Many

scholars link this development to the romantic and transcendentalist movements of the 19th century.

These green commons were also heavily associated with the success of the Revolutionary War and

often became the homes of patriotic war memorials after the Civil War ended in 1865.

Middle class pursuit

The lawn at Kirkby Fleetham Hall, Yorkshire, circa 1889.

Before the mechanical lawnmower, the upkeep of lawns was only possible for the extremely wealthy

estates and manor houses of the aristocracy. Labor­intensive methods of scything and shearing the

grass were required to maintain the lawn in its correct state, and most of the land in England was

required for more functional, agricultural purposes.

This all changed with the invention of the lawnmower by Edwin Beard Budding in 1830. Budding had

the idea for a lawnmower after seeing a machine in a local cloth mill which used a cutting cylinder (or

bladed reel) mounted on a bench to trim the irregular nap from the surface of woollen cloth and give a

smooth finish. Budding realised that a similar device could be used to cut grass if the mechanism was

mounted in a wheeled frame to make the blades rotate close to the lawn's surface. His mower design

was to be used primarily to cut the lawn on sports grounds and extensive gardens, as a superior

alternative to the scythe, and he was granted a British patent on 31 August 1830.

In an agreement between John Ferrabee and Edwin Budding, Ferrabee paid the costs of development

and acquired rights to manufacture, sell and license other manufacturers in the production of lawn

mowers. Budding went into partnership with a local engineer, John Ferrabee, and together they made

mowers in a factory at Thrupp near Stroud. They allowed other companies to build copies of their

mower under license, the most successful of these, was Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies of Ipswich which

began mower production as early as 1832.[14]

The first gasoline­powered lawnmower, 1902.

However, his model had two crucial drawbacks. It was immensely heavy (it was made of cast iron) and

difficult to manoeuvre in the garden, and did not cut the grass very well. The blade would often spin

above the grass uselessly. It took ten more years and further innovations, including the advent of the

Bessemer process for the production of the much lighter alloy steel and advances in motorization such

as the drive chain, for the lawnmower to become a practical proposition. Middle­class families across

the country, in imitation of aristocratic landscape gardens, began to grow finely trimmed lawns in their

back gardens.

In the 1850s, Thomas Green of Leeds introduced a revolutionary mower design called the Silens

Messor (meaning silent cutter), which used a chain to transmit power from the rear roller to the cutting

cylinder. The machine was much lighter and quieter than the gear driven machines that preceded

them, and won first prize at the first lawn mower trial at the London Horticultural Gardens. Thus began

a great expansion in the lawn mower production in the 1860s. James Sumner of Lancashire patented

the first steam­powered lawn mower in 1893. Around 1900, Ransomes' Automaton, available in chain- or gear­driven models, dominated the British market. In 1902, Ransomes produced the first

commercially available mower powered by an internal combustion gasoline engine. JP Engineering of

Leicester, founded after World War I, invented the first riding mowers.

From the 1860s, the cultivation of lawns, especially for sports, became a middle­class obsession in

England. Pictured, a lawnmower advertisement from Ransomes.

This went hand­in­hand with a booming consumer market for lawns from the 1860s onward. With the

increasing popularity of sports in the mid­Victorian period, the lawn mower was used to craft modern- style sporting ovals, playing fields, pitches and grass courts for the nascent sports of football, lawn

bowls, lawn tennis and others. The rise of Suburbanisation in the interwar period was heavily

influenced by the garden city movement of Ebenezer Howard and the creation of the first garden

suburbs at the turn of the 20th century. The garden suburb, developed through the efforts of social

reformer Henrietta Barnett and her husband, exemplified the incorporation of the well manicured lawn

into suburban life. Suburbs dramatically increased in size. Harrow Weald went from just 1,500 to over

10,000 while Pinner jumped from 3,00 to over 20,000. During the 1930s, over 4 million new suburban

houses were built and the 'suburban revolution' had made England the most heavily suburbanized

country in the world by a considerable margin.

Lawns began to proliferate in America from the 1870s onwards. As more plants were introduced from

Europe, lawns became smaller as they were filled with flower beds, perennials, sculptures, and water

features. Eventually the wealthy began to move away from the cities into new suburban communities.

In 1856, an architectural book was published to accompany the development of the new suburbia that

placed importance on the availability of a grassy space for children to play on and a space to grow

fruits and vegetables that further imbued the lawn with cultural importance. Lawns began making more

appearances in development plans, magazine articles, and catalogs. The lawn became less

associated with being a status symbol, instead giving way to a landscape aesthetic. Improvements in

the lawn mower and water supply enabled the spread of lawn culture from the Northeast to the South

where the grass grew more poorly. This in combination with setback rules which required all homes to

have a 30 foot gap between the structure and the sidewalk meant that the lawn had found a specific

place in suburbia.

American lawn culture

Lawn seating

A Memorial Day concert on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building

A pivotal factor in the spread of the lawn in America, was the passage of legislation in 1938 of the 40

hour work week. Until then, Americans had typically worked half days on Saturdays, leaving little time

to focus on their lawns. With this legislation and the housing boom following the Second World War,

managed grass spaces became more commonplace. The creation in the early 20th century of country

clubs and golf courses completed the rise of lawn culture.

Levittown, New York was the beginning of the industrial suburb in the 20th Century, and by proxy the

industrial lawn. Between 1947 and 1951, Abraham Levitt and his sons built more than seventeen

thousand homes, each with its own lawn. Abraham Levitt wrote "No single feature of a suburban

residential community contributes as much to the charm and beauty of the individual home and the

locality as well­kept lawns". Landscaping was one of the most important factors in Levittown's success

and no feature was more prominent than the lawn. The Levitts understood that landscaping could

offset the normal depreciation of a home, adding to the appeal of their developments. During 1948, the

first spring that Levittown had enjoyed, Levitt and Sons fertilized and reseeded all of the lawns free of


Lawn monoculture was a reflection of more than an interest in offsetting depreciation, it propagated the

homogeneity of the suburb itself. Levittown is widely regarded by scholars as the birthplace of the

conveyor belt style, mass­produced suburb that is now quite common. Although lawns had been a

recognizable feature in English residences since the 19th century, a revolution in industrialization and

monoculture of the lawn since the Second World War fundamentally changed the ecology of the lawn.

Intensive suburbanization both concentrated and expanded the spread of lawn maintenance which

meant increased inputs in not only petrochemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides, but also natural

resources like water.

Front lawns became standardized in the 1930s when, over time, specific aspects such as grass type

and maintenance methods became popular. The lawn­care industry boomed, but the Great

Depression of the 1930s and in the period prior to World War II made it difficult to maintain the cultural

standards that had become heavily associated with the lawn due to grass seed shortages in Europe,

America's main supplier. Still, seed distributors such as Scotts Miracle­Gro Company in the United

States encouraged families to continue to maintain their lawns, promoting it as a stress­relieving

hobby. During the war itself, homeowners were asked to maintain the appearances of the home front,

likely as a show of strength, morale, and solidarity. After World War II, the lawn aesthetic once again

became a standard feature of North America, bouncing back from its minor decline in the decades

before with a vengeance, particularly as a result of the housing and population boom post­war.

The G.I. Bill in the United States let American ex­servicemen buy homes without providing a down

payment, while the Federal Housing Administration offered lender inducements that aided the

reduction of down payments for the average American from 30% to as little as 10%. These

developments made owning your own home cheaper than renting, further enabling the spread of

suburbia and its lawns.

The economic recession that began in 2008 has resulted in many communities worldwide to dig up

their lawns and plant fruit and vegetable gardens. This has the potential to greatly change cultural

values attached to the lawn, as they are increasingly viewed as environmentally and economically

unviable in the modern context.


The appearance of the lawn in Australia followed closely after its establishment in North America and

parts of Europe, likely due in part to the continued influence of colonial powers. By the 1920s, this

"nature strip" was common throughout the developing suburbs of Australia as a result of increased

globalization and industrialization. This term is uniquely Australian, alluding, perhaps, to man's desire

to control nature. Prior to the 1970s, all brush and native species were stripped from a development

site and replaced with lawns that utilized imported plant species. However, since the 1970s there has

been a resurgence in Australian patriotism and nationalism, leading to a rejection of imported

European or North American plant life in favor of indigenous species.

Over time, with consideration to the frequency of droughts in Australia, the movement towards

"naturalism", or the use of indigenous plant species in yards, was beneficial. These grasses were more

drought resistant than their European counterparts, and those families who wished to keep their lawns

switched to these alternatives. Many suburban homes completely gave up on trying to maintain a lawn

and instead allowed their green carpets to revert to the indigenous scrub that had been there before in

an effort to reduce the strain on water supplies.


A newly seeded, fertilized and mowed lawn

Lawns are a common feature of private gardens, public landscapes and parks in many parts of the

world. They are created for aesthetic pleasure, as well as for sports or other outdoor recreational use.

Lawns are useful as a playing surface both because they mitigate erosion and dust generated by

intensive foot traffic and because they provide a cushion for players in sports such as rugby, football,

soccer, cricket, baseball, golf, tennis, hockey and lawn bocce.

Lawn care and maintenance

Seasonal lawn establishment and care varies depending on the climate zone and type of lawn grown.


Broadcast spreaders can be attached to tractors or ATVs to spread seed or fertilizer

Aeration is one of the keys to growing a healthy lawn

Early autumn, spring, and early summer are the primary seasons to seed, lay sod (turf), plant 'liners',

or 'sprig' new lawns, when the soil is warmer and air cooler. Seeding is the least expensive, but takes

longer for the lawn to be established. Aerating just before planting/seeding will promote deeper root

growth and will help thicken turf.

Sodding (turfing) provides an almost 'instant lawn', and can be planted in most temperate climates in

any season, but is more expensive and more vulnerable to drought until established. Hydroseeding is

a quick, less expensive method of planting large, sloped or hillside landscapes. Some grasses and

sedges are available and planted from 'liner' and 4­inch (100 mm) containers, from 'flats', 'plugs' or

'sprigs', and are planted apart to grow together.

Lawn growth, 20 hour time lapse

Fertilizers and chemicals

Various organic and inorganic or synthetic fertilizers are available, with instant or time­release

applications. Pesticides, which includes biological and chemical herbicides, insecticides and fungicides

are available. Consideration for their effects on the lawn and garden ecosystem and via runoff and

dispersion on the surrounding environment, can constrain their use. For example, the Canadian

province of Quebec and over 130 municipalities prohibit the use of synthetic lawn pesticides. In order

for the lawn to grow and flourish, the soil must be prepared properly. If this step is overlooked as many

do, the lawn will burn out as soon as it runs out of nutrients. The Ontario provincial government

promised on 24–2 September, 007 to also implement a province­wide ban on the cosmetic use of lawn

pesticides, for protecting the public. Medical and environmental groups support such a ban.On 22–2

April, 008, the Provincial Government of Ontario announced that it will pass legislation that will prohibit,

province­wide, the cosmetic use and sale of lawn and garden pesticides. The Ontario legislation would

also echo Massachusetts law requiring pesticide manufacturers to reduce the toxins they use in


Sustainable gardening uses organic horticulture methods, such as organic fertilizers, biological pest

control, beneficial insects, and companion planting, among other methods, to sustain an attractive

lawn in a safe garden. An example of an organic herbicide is corn gluten meal, which releases an

'organic dipeptide' into the soil to inhibit root formation of germinating weed seeds. An example of an

organic alternative to insecticide use is applying beneficial nematodes to combat soil­dwelling grubs,

such as the larvae of chafer beetles. The Integrated Pest Management approach is a coordinated low

impact approach.

Mowing and other maintenance practices

A typical lawn mowing bot maintaining even and low grass.

Dethatching removes dead grass and decomposing materials that build up in a lawn

Lawn sweepers clean up debris from dethatching in addition to leaves, twigs, pine needles, etc.

Maintaining a rough lawn requires only occasional cutting with a suitable machine, or grazing by

animals. Maintaining a smooth and closely cut lawn, be it for aesthetic or practical reasons or because

social pressure from neighbors and local municipal ordinances requires it,necessitates more organized

and regular treatments. Usually once a week is adequate for maintaining a lawn in most climates.

However, in the hot and rainy seasons of regions contained in hardiness zones greater than 8, lawns

may need to be maintained up to two times a week.

Summer lawn care requires raising the lawn mower for cool season grasses, and lowering it for warm

season lawns.[clarification needed] In order to remain green, grass lawns will require longer and more

frequent watering, best done in early morning or evening to reduce evaporation. When grass is

actively growing is also the time to apply an all­purpose fertilizer.

In the autumn, thatch buildup that occurs in warm season grasses should be removed, although lawn

experts are divided in their opinions on this. This is also a good time to add a sandy loam top dressing

and apply a fertilizer containing some type of wetting agent.[clarification needed] Cool season lawns

can be planted in autumn if there is adequate rainfall.

Lawn care in the winter is minimal, requiring only light feedings of organic material, such as green- waste compost, and minerals to encourage earthworms and beneficial microbes.

Maintaining high visibility lawns may require special maintenance procedures:

Mowing regularly with a sharp blade at an even height

Not mowing when the lawn is wet

Removing no more than 30% of the plant tissue in any one cut

Alternating the direction of cut from the previous mowing

Scarifying/dethatching and sweeping/raking (to remove dead grass, leaves, and other debris, and to

prevent tufting)

Rolling, to encourage tillering (branching of grass plants) and to firm the ground (for sports use only)

Top dressing with sand, soil or other material

Aeration with a spike aerator or plug/core aerator (to relieve compaction of the soil and allow greater

absorption of nutrients)

Seeding to cover patchy areas and maintain thick turf

Social impacts

The prevalence of the lawns in films such as Pleasantville and Edward Scissorhands alludes to the

importance of the lawn as a social mechanism that gives great importance to visual representation of

the American suburb as well as its practised culture. It is implied that a neighbor, whose lawn is not in

pristine condition, is morally corrupt, emphasizing the role a well­kept lawn plays in neighborly and

community relationships. In both of these films, green space surrounding a house in the suburbs

becomes an indicator of moral integrity as well as of social and gender norms as lawn care has long

been associated with men. These lawns also reinforce class and societal norms by subtly excluding

minorities who may not have been able to afford a house in the suburbs with a lawn that was the

symbolic representation of safety and stability. The lawn as a reflection of someone's character and

the neighborhood at large is not restricted to films, the same theme is evident in The Great Gatsby, a

book written by American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald. Character Nick Carraway rents the house next

to Gatsby's and fails to maintain his lawn according to West Egg standards. The rift between the two

lawns troubles Gatsby to the point that he dispatches his gardener to mow Nick's grass and thereby

create uniformity.

Most lawn care equipment over the decades has been advertised to men, and companies have long

associated good lawn care with good citizenship in their marketing campaigns. As well, the

appearance of a healthy lawn was meant to imply the health of the man taking care of it; controlled

weeds and strict boundaries became a practical application of the desire to control nature, as well as

an expression of control over their personal lives once working full­time became central to suburban

success. Women were encultured over time to view the lawn as part of the household, as an essential

furnishing, and to encourage their husbands to maintain a lawn for the family and community


During World War II, women became the focus of lawn­care companies in the absence of their

husbands and sons. The lawn was promoted as a necessary means by which women could help

support their male family members and American patriotism as a whole. The image of the lawn

changed from focusing on technology and manhood to emphasizing aesthetic pleasure and the health

benefits derived from its maintenance; it was assumed that women would not respond positively to

images of efficiency and power. The language of these marketing campaigns still intended to imbue

the female population with notions of family, motherhood, and the duties of a wife; it has been argued

that this was done so that it would be easier for men returning from war to resume the roles their wives

had taken over in their absence. This was especially apparent in the 1950s and 1960s, when lawn- care rhetoric emphasized the lawn as a husband's responsibility and as a pleasurable hobby when he


The lawn aesthetic in Europe and Australia seems to exhibit the same cultural tendencies as a

representation of order, power over nature, patriotism, and suburban family life while still adhering to

other gender constructs present throughout the world's suburbs. However, there are differences in the

particulars of lawn maintenance and appearance, such as the length of the grass, species (and

therefore its color), and mowing.

Types of lawn plants

Lawns need not be, and have not always been, made up of grasses alone. Other plants for lawn­like

usable garden areas are sedges, low herbs and wildflowers, and ground covers that can be walked


The area on the right has not been mown since the previous autumn.

Thousands of varieties of grasses and grasslike plants are used for lawns, each adapted to specific

conditions of precipitation and irrigation, seasonal temperatures, and sun/shade tolerances. Plant

hybridizers and botanists are constantly creating and finding improved varieties of the basic species

and new ones, often more economical and environmentally sustainable by needing less water,

fertilizer, pest and disease treatments, and maintenance. The three basic categories are cool season

grasses, warm season grasses, and grass alternatives.


History of the grasses used in lawns

Prior to European colonization, the grasses on the East Coast of North America were mostly broom

straw, wild rye, and marsh grass. As Europeans moved into the region, it was noted by colonists in

New England, more than others, that the grasses of the New World were inferior to those of England

and that their livestock seemed to receive less nutrition from it. In fact, once livestock brought

overseas from Europe spread throughout the colonies, much of the native grasses of New England

disappeared, and an inventory list from the 17th century noted supplies of clover and grass seed from

England. New colonists were even urged by their country and companies to bring grass seed with

them to North America. By the late 17th century, a new market in imported grass seed had begun in

New England.

Much of the new grasses brought by Europeans spread quickly and effectively, often ahead of the

colonists. One such species, Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon), became the most important pasture

grass for the southern colonies.

Kentucky Bluegrass (Poa pratensis) is a grass native to Europe or the Middle East. It was likely carried

to Midwestern United States in the early 1600s by French missionaries and spread via the waterways

to the region around Kentucky. However, it may also have spread across the Appalachian mountains

after an introduction on the east coast. Kentucky Bluegrass is now one of the top three pasture

grasses in the United States and the most desirable species of grass for lawns.

Farmers at first continued to harvest meadows and marshes composed of indigenous grasses until

they became overgrazed. These areas quickly fell to erosion and were overrun with less favorable

plant life. Soon, farmers began to purposefully plant new species of grass in these areas, hoping to

improve the quality and quantity of hay to provide for their livestock as native species had a lower

nutritive value. While Middle Eastern and Europeans species of grass did extremely well on the East

Coast of North America, it was a number of grasses from the Mediterranean that dominated the

Western seaboard. As cultivated grasses became valued for their nutritional benefits to livestock,

farmers relied less and less on natural meadows in the more colonized areas of the country.

Eventually even the grasses of the Great Plains were overrun with European species that were more

durable to the grazing patterns of imported livestock.

Many different species of grass are currently used, depending on the intended use and the climate.

Coarse grasses are used where active sports are played, and finer grasses are used for ornamental

lawns for their visual effects. Some grasses are adapted to oceanic climates with cooler summers, and

others to tropical and continental climates with hotter summers. Often, a mix of grass or low plant

types is used to form a stronger lawn when one type does better in the warmer seasons and the other

in the colder ones. This mixing is taken further by a form of grass breeding which produces what are

known as cultivars. A cultivar is a cross­breed of two different varieties of grass and aims to combine

certain traits taken from each individual breed. This creates a new strain which can be very

specialised, suited to a particular environment, such as low water, low light or low nutrient.

Diagram of a typical lawn grass plant.

Cool season grasses

Cool season grasses start growth at 5 °C (41 °F), and grow at their fastest rate when temperatures are

between 10 °C (50 °F) and 25 °C (77 °F), in climates that have relatively mild/cool summers, with two

periods of rapid growth in the spring and autumn.They retain their color well in extreme cold and

typically grow very dense, carpetlike lawns with relatively little thatch.

Conventional selections:

Bluegrass (Poa spp.)

Bentgrass (Agrostis spp.)

Ryegrasses (Lolium spp.)

Fescues (Festuca spp., hybrids, and cultivars)

Native plant regional selections (for taller lawns):

Red fescues (Festuca rubra)

Feather reed grass (Calamogrostis spp.)

Tufted hair grass (Deschampsia spp.)

Warm season grasses

Warm season grasses only start growth at temperatures above 10 °C (50 °F), and grow fastest when

temperatures are between 25 °C (77 °F) and 35 °C (95 °F), with one long growth period over the

spring and summer (Huxley 1992). They often go dormant in cooler months, turning shades of tan or

brown. Many warm season grasses are quite drought tolerant, and can handle very high summer

temperatures, although temperatures below −15 °C (5 °F) can kill most southern ecotype warm

season grasses. The northern varieties, such as buffalograss and blue grama, are hardy to 45 °C

(113 °F).

Zoysiagrass (Zoysia spp.)

Bermudagrass (Cynodon spp.)

St. Augustine grass

Bahiagrass (Paspalum)

Centipedegrass (Eremachloa)

Carpetgrass (Axonopus)

Buffalograss (drought tolerant)

Grama grass

Grass alternatives

Carex species and cultivars are well represented in the horticulture industry as 'sedge' alternatives for

'grass' in mowed lawns and garden meadows. Both low growing and spreading ornamental cultivars

and native species are used in for sustainable landscaping as low maintenance and drought tolerant

grass replacements for lawns and garden meadows. wildland habitat restoration projects and natural

landscaping and gardens use them also for 'user friendly' areas. The J. Paul Getty Museum has used

Carex pansa (meadow sedge) and Carex praegracilis (dune sedge) expansively in the Sculpture

Gardens in Los Angeles.

Some lower sedges used are:

Carex caryophyllea (cultivar 'The Beatles')

C. divulsa (Berkeley sedge)

C. glauca (blue sedge) (syn. C. flacca)

C. pansa (meadow sedge)

C. praegracilis (dune sedge)

C. subfusca (mountain sedge)

C. tumulicola (foothill sedge) (cultivar 'Santa Cruz Mnts. selection')

C. uncifolia (ruby sedge)

Ground cover alternatives

Some lawns are replaced with low ground covers, such as creeping thyme, camomile, Lippia, purple

flowering Mazus, grey Dymondia, creeping sedums, and creeping jenny.Other alternatives to lawns

include meadows, drought tolerant xeriscape gardens, natural landscapes, native plant habitat

gardens, paved Spanish courtyard and patio gardens, butterfly gardens, rain gardens, and kitchen

gardens. Trees and shrubs in close proximity to lawns provide habitat for birds in traditional, cottage

and wildlife gardens.

Environmental concerns

Greater amounts of chemical fertilizer and pesticides are used per acre of lawn than on an equivalent

acre of cultivated farmland, and the continued use of these products has been associated with

environmental pollution, disturbance in the lawn ecosystem, and increased health risks to the local

human population.

Other concerns, criticisms, and ordinances regarding lawns come from the environmental


Some lawns are composed of a monoculture (single species) of plants, which reduces biodiversity,

especially when the lawn covers a large area. They usually are composed of introduced species not

native to the area, which can further decrease a locale's biodiversity and vital habitats supporting an


Lawn maintenance may use inorganic fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides,

which can harm the environment. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has

estimated[when?] nearly 70,000,000 pounds (32,000,000 kg) of active pesticide ingredients are used

on suburban lawns each year in the United States. It has also been estimated that more herbicides are

applied per acre of lawn than are used by most farmers to grow crops.

For example, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Kuwait, and Belize have placed restrictions on the use of

the herbicide 2,4­D.

It has been estimated that nearly 17 million gallons of gasoline are spilled each summer while re­

fueling garden and lawn­care equipment in the United States; approximately 50% more than that

spilled during the Exxon Valdez incident.

The use of pesticides and fertilizers, requiring fossil fuels for manufacturing, distribution, and

application, have been shown to contribute to global warming, whereas sustainable organic techniques

have been shown to help reduce global warming.

A lawn sprinkler

Water conservation

Maintaining a green lawn sometimes requires large amounts of water. This was not a problem in

temperate England, where the concept of the lawn originated, as natural rainfall was sufficient to

maintain a lawn's health. The exportation of the lawn ideal to more arid regions of the world, however,

such as the U.S. Southwest and Australia, has crimped already scarce water resources in such areas,

requiring larger, more environmentally invasive water supply systems. Grass typically goes dormant

during cold, winter months, and turns brown during hot, dry summer months, thereby reducing its

demand for water. Many property owners consider this "dead" appearance unacceptable, and

therefore increase watering during the summer months. Grass can also recover quite well from a


In the United States, 50 to 70% of residential water is used for landscaping, most of it to water lawns.A

2005 NASA study "conservatively" estimated there was 128,000 square kilometres (49,000 sq mi;

32,000,000 acres) of irrigated lawn in the US, three times the area of irrigated corn.

That means about 200 gallons of fresh, usually drinking­quality water per person per day would be

required to keep up our nation's lawn surface area.

It is possible that lawn maintenance could come at the expense of precious resources, especially

when faced with extreme weather conditions. This situation is described in Water in Australia by David

Ingle Smith, who observed in 1995 data that under extreme conditions during summer drought

periods, up to 90% of the water used in Canberra, Australia was applied to lawns.


An increased concern from the general public over pesticide and fertilizer use and their associated

health risks, combined with the implementation of the Food Quality Protection Act, has resulted in the

reduced presence of synthetic chemicals, namely pesticides, in urban landscapes such as lawns in the

late 20th century. Much of these concerns over the safety and environmental impact of some of these

synthetic fertilizers and pesticides has led to their ban by the United States Environmental Protection

Agency and many local governments. The use of pesticides and other chemicals to care for lawns has

also lead to the death of nearly 7 million birds each year, a topic that was central to Silent Spring by

Rachel Carson.

Decreasing environmental impact

In the United States, lawn heights are generally maintained by gasoline­powered lawnmowers, which

contribute to urban smog during the summer months. The EPA found, in some urban areas, up to 5%

of smog was due to small gasoline engines made before 1997, such as are typically used on

lawnmowers. Since 1997, the EPA has mandated emissions controls on newer engines in an effort to

reduce smog.

A 2010 study seemed to show lawn care inputs were balanced by the carbon sequestration benefits of

lawns, and they may not be contributors to anthropogenic global warming.

However, lawns with high maintenance (mowing, irrigation, and leaf blowing) and high fertilization

rates have a net emission of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide that have large global warming potential.

With the use of ecological techniques including organic lawn management, the impact of lawns can be

reduced. Such methods include the use of native grasses, sedges, and low herbs; higher mowing

techniques; low volume irrigation, 'grasscycling' grass clippings in place; an integrated pest

management program; exclusive organic fertilizer and compost use; and including a variety of trees,

shrubs, perennials, and other plants surrounding the lawn. A positive benefit of a healthy lawn is it

filters contaminants and prevents runoff and erosion of bare soil.

In addition to the environmental criticisms, some gardeners question the aesthetic value of lawns,

especially in climates and cultures different from the lawn's homeland in England.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia