70% of pollinator species are ground nesting. Mowing lawns can directly harm bees, and the lack of leaf litter and diverse plant species can impoverish habitat and starve out pollinators. Lawns also do little to slow stormwater runoff. Lawn maintenance requires unnecessary fertilizers and pesticides (59 million pounds per year) that contribute to toxic stormwater.
Two-cycle gas mowers emit exhaust more toxic than glyphosate. Fifty-four million Americans mow forty million acres of lawns every weekend, contributing 5% of this nation's air pollution. They use 800 million gallons of gasoline every year, spilling 17 million gallons of fuel, more than the Exxon Valdez.
If Americans transformed their lawns to wildlife habitat, every home could be part of a HomeGrown National Park advocated by entomologist Doug Tallamy (author of Nature's Best Hope), a backyard conservation effort to save pollinators and birds.
Lawn Transformation: Before and after
Lawn transformations start with restoring soil structure that was pulverized and compacted during construction. After removing grass and getting a utility check, "double-dig" arborist woodchips into soil, then mulch on top of soil. This recreates a fungal food web that filters stormwater and supports self-sustaining native plants, reducing watering, maintenance, and saving precious weekend time. Plant evergreen shrubs and groundcovers to shade out weeds, and leave the leaves (!) in some messy areas (branches, woody debris) for pollinators, planting pockets of pollinator-friendly flowers.