A lush lawn has gotten to be such a fixture of the American dream that the hum of lawnmowers and the soft hiss of sprinklers have become nostalgic harbingers of summer. But there’s more to landscapes than just blades of grass and garden gnomes. Here are some facts you may not know about your yard.
20 Acres of lawn in the U.S., in millions — more land than any single crop takes up
30 Percentage of water consumed on the East Coast that goes toward watering lawns
60 Percentage of water consumed in western States that goes toward watering lawns
32 Gallons of water used per capita on lawns daily in the U.S.
20 Gallons of water used during an average shower in the U.S.
3 Estimated pounds of pesticides per application for an acre of farmland
7 Estimated pounds of pesticides per application for an acre of lawn
40 Percentage of chemicals from ChemLawn’s consumer product line-up that are banned in other countries
19 Number of commonly used lawn pesticides known to be carcinogens
75 Number of human studies documenting a connection between pesticide exposure and lymphoma
10 Approximate percentage of bugs in a typical yard that actually interfere with lawn growth
100 Number of miles a late model car would have to drive to produce as much pollution as a lawnmower emits in one hour
373 Number of calories a 150-pound person would burn using a push mower for one hour
1830 Year that Edwin Budding invented the lawnmower
1855 Year that Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass was published
1962 Year that Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was published
1984 Year that the U.S.’s use of synthetic fertilizer on lawns surpassed the amount used on all of India’s food crops
Sources: National Wildlife Federation, Redesigning the American Lawn, Pesticide Action Network North America, Toxics Action Center, Lymphoma Foundation of America, EPA, People Powered Machines, Gimme Green.
This article originally appeared in Plenty in June 2007. This story was added to MNN.com in June 2009.