How to Transform Your Green Lawn into a Green Thumb: A Model for Animas Valley, Colorado

Lang, Jordan (2012) How to Transform Your Green Lawn into a Green Thumb: A Model for Animas Valley, Colorado. [Abstract]

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Abstract

Residents of the biologically rich area of the Animas Valley, located in the high desert region of southwest Colorado, have replaced native plants with turf grass, specifically Kentucky bluegrass. Green lawns can be traced back to the English garden and they were fully developed with extensive fertilizer and pesticide use after the Civil War. The upkeep involved in nourishing a beautiful, well maintained green lawn proves to have significant environmental and social problems. American homeowners spend forty billion dollars and use 30% of their water every year on caring and feeding this exotic crop that is not adapted to North American climates. Turf grass is the largest irrigated crop in the US, where 21 million acres of land is devoted specifically to home lawns. The gas used and emissions created from lawn mowers contribute to air pollution and over one hundred million pounds of herbicides and pesticides are used on keeping the grass green and presentable. The problems addressed can be reduced by making a switch towards gardening native plants that thrive in local climates. By researching sustainable alternatives to Kentucky bluegrass, a model for the Animas Valley was created. Since this area only receives about nineteen inches of precipitation yearly, water is an important factor to consider. A list of drought-resistant native plants is provided for xeriscaping, where the plan and design of the landscape is dedicated to conservation by minimizing the amount of water applied and maximizing the use of natural precipitation. By incorporating perennials plants -- a plant that lives year after year through a form of vegetative reproduction rather than seeding -- and native heirlooms one can make the best use of the lawn. An heirloom is identified as something old and loved. They are natural hybrids that can self-fertilize with zero human help. These special plants will allow homeowners to regain control of their food system and learn to better work with nature rather than against it. A list of heirlooms that are native to this area and herbaceous perennials, bunchgrass, herbs and flowers is provided along with a selection of native, edible, garden plants that include: beans, chilies, corn/maize, greens, herbs, squash, and root crop varieties.

Item Type: Abstract
Created by Student or Faculty: Student
Additional Information: 7th Annual Natural & Behavioral Sciences Undergraduate Research Symposium Program
Uncontrolled Keywords: Animas Valley, Colorado, Kentucky bluegrass, turf grass, Water, Lawn care industry, Environmental aspects, Urban ecology, Pesticides, Fertilizer, Weeds, Turf management, Native plants, xeriscaping, drought-resistant native plants, native heirloom plants
Subjects: School of Natural and Behavioral Sciences > Environmental Studies
School of Natural and Behavioral Sciences > Geosciences
NBS Symposium
School of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences > Southwest Studies
Depositing User: Alejandro Marquez
Date Deposited: 15 May 2013 13:33
Last Modified: 15 May 2013 13:33
URI: http://eprints.fortlewis.edu/id/eprint/287


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