Eliminating the use of lawn fertilizers near waterways should be a no-brainer. Fertilizers are a prime contributor to algal blooms, including red tide, which are deadly to wildlife and dangerous to humans. For the same reason, it should be a no-brainer that people would want to stop using pesticides and herbicides for residential lawns. As much as some people like their manicured green lawns, does the use of chemicals justify the mass die-offs of fish, birds, and other wildlife; and the pollution of our precious water supply?
The thing is, people who love their lawns can still have them! But, for the good of our rivers and lakes and oceans, we need to make some changes. We can choose more hardy, drought-tolerant grass species, and quit using chemicals for vanity agriculture. It would help if we’d let go of the culturally indoctrinated compulsion for the “perfect” uniformly green lawn, which I see as the green-colored equivalent of Snow White’s beautiful but poisonous red apple. We also really need to tackle the various regulations (municipal regulations, HOA rules, etc.) that pretty much FORCE people to have lawns in many parts of the USA.
Besides laying off the chemicals, lawn-lovers can also help our wildlife and waterways by planting a “filtration strip” of vegetation along the edges of their yards. This buffer of vegetation helps retain silt, water, and nutrients on property rather than let them run off into the storm-drain systems and bodies of water. Besides being good for the environment, a border of vegetation looks nicer than a plain flat grass edge, and it can reduce or eliminate the need for fussy edging and blowing.
• Local Laws Ban Front-Yard Food Gardens: “Zoning, supporters contend, is intended to prevent conflicts and nuisances from arising. … But sometimes, as in the case of the prohibitions on edible gardens … zoning itself becomes the nuisance and the source of conflict. …Estimates of water savings vary, but most sources agree that fruit and vegetable gardens use less water than would a lawn in a comparable space. Those who want to live more sustainably often choose to grow some of their own food and find ways both to reduce their reliance on commercially bought food and lower their water use. Swapping out a lawn for an edible garden can help achieve both goals.”
• Eco-friendly lawn alternatives: “On a gallon-for-gallon basis, power mowers are far more polluting than cars. …[L]awn-mower engines, per gallon of gas, contribute 93 times more smog-forming emissions than 2006 cars. Water runoff pollution is another downside: To keep turf perma-green and weedfree requires a cocktail of fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides applied regularly via the irrigation system. …Every region and every ecology in this country has its own regionally native sods, which, with very little mowing or cutting, grow naturally as a turf.”
• Doing a search for “eco-friendly lawns,” I found this company that offers a “No-Mow Lawn Grass Seed”, which looks to be waterwise and not need chemicals.