Lawns may be a traditional part of the American landscape, but they’re pretty wasteful. Grass needs a lot of water — about 1 to 2 inches per week — and they take time to mow and weed. Plus, all the fertilizer and weed killer applied to lawns can run into local water sources, making them a major source of pollution.
But there’s a simple alternative, and that’s a natural meadow using native plants. These species are born to thrive in the local weather conditions, so they’re easy to care for and will keep your water bill down. Meanwhile, they feed local species, including birds and pollinators.
Replacing traditional turf grass with native grasses and wildflowers costs between $2,000 and $5,000 per acre, according to WHYY. To make it easier, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has set aside funds that it will give to individuals, businesses, and nonprofits to replace lawns of any size.
“Lawn conversion intends to improve water quality, air quality, provide habitat to support wildlife and pollinators, and it also sequesters carbon,” Kelsey Mummert, the program’s coordinator, told WHYY. That makes it an excellent use of the department’s funding.
Although the program began in 2020, WHYY reports that interest has increased in 2023. The Twin Hills development in Chester Springs was among the beneficiaries. Although it takes several growing seasons for a meadow to fully establish itself, the community already sees the benefits.
Jim Freed, a member of the Twin Hills board of directors, told WHYY, “You can hear the bees, and can see the bees and the butterflies — and the beauty that it has created on the edge of the property is just phenomenal.”
Others, like Instagrammer Kenny Barnes, have pointed out how much more attractive a wildflower meadow looks than an ordinary lawn. As Drew O’Neill, vice president of Weeds, Inc., told WHYY, “You’ll get an actively growing meadow from roughly April through the end of October, giving you different views, textures and colors.”
There are other benefits, too. Healthy meadows and prairies cool the area in the summer, making it more comfortable and lowering homeowners’ energy bills, as TikToker Kyle Lybarger demonstrated.
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