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Blog > Greener Pastures, or Just Green With Envy?

Greener Pastures, or Just Green With Envy?

Landscapes, Spring, Summer, Fall

Green  'Guacamole' HostasThe majority of the trees and shrubs are now cloaked in various shades of green (did you know the human eye can distinguish more shades of green than any other color?). Some are showing the effects of a rather blustery winter (for once, Minnesota has had a normal winter) and there are signs of animal damage, temperature damage and moisture (or lack of) damage.

This spring has been the usual ups and downs in temperatures and precipitation and as I, more than once, had to change plans because of a change in the weather, I began thinking about all the things we do to try to manipulate our environment. We plant. We water. We weed. We feed. We pluck, prune and pinch. We mow and we mulch. Not that all of this is bad - and, believe me, these are essential to our business. But, have we not learned anything from our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents about caring for the earth?

As a homeowner, landscaper and professional gardener, I am always looking at people's yards. Not in the way you look at your neighbors' yards and appreciate the well-kept lawn and pristine gardens (or perhaps it is the opposite and they have yards that look more like vacant lots), but as one who wonders how much input is necessary to maintain it. Input, in landscaping terms, is a measure of how much is added to maintain an environment - water, fertilizer, weed killers, fuel for maintenance equipment are the major inputs for a landscape. Many don't realize the impact of having the 'greenest' yard on the block. In fact, if we were talking ecologically and not aesthetically, most landscapes are not 'green', at all.

Here's a little math: a U.S. gallon is legally defined as 231 cubic inches. There are 43,560 square feet in an acre. In Dakota County, the average residential lot size is 0.25 acres. Are you with me so far? This means the average lot covers 10,890 square feet. Take out the area covered by your home, garage, driveway, patios and sidewalks and you're down around 7,500 square feet of yardspace. Most sources will tell you that you need 1 inch of water each week to keep your lawn green. Just how much is that, in gallons? 7,500 x 144 (number of square inches in a square foot) / 231 (number of square inches a gallon covers 1 inch deep) = 4,675 gallons!

You need about 0.5 - 0.75 gallons of liquid a day to survive, or 5.25 gallons/week, tops. A family of 4 would need 21 gallons of water to consume each week, plus water for cooking and cleaning.

This is only 1 input into maintaining your yard, there are others we'll get to later. Look out your window and ask yourself - 'Am I doing the best I can to care for what God gave me?'

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