By Mike Shelton, ScottsMiracle-Gro Sustainability Manager
With the arrival of spring traditionally comes a yearning to spend more time outside in our backyards – cultivating vegetable gardens, planting new flowers or simply enjoying the sunshine.
However, with recent water quality and drought challenges, the importance of caring for a lawn or garden can quickly be forgotten. But now, more than ever, we need these spaces: more than just lush backdrops, landscapes and green spaces are vital for the continued health and vitality of our families and communities.
The benefits of landscapes go far beyond our own backyard; they play an important role in our society. Landscapes prevent soil erosion and absorb rainwater to improve drainage, provide an outdoor area for families to play, reduce noise pollution, clean the air, and more.
But consider these other, more unexpected benefits:
- Time spent in green spaces can lessen stress and anxiety while improving blood pressure, heart activity and muscle tension.
- Healthy, well-fed grass cleanses the water supply and reduces runoff more than an unfed lawn.
- Green spaces have an “upgrade effect” – beautifying your own lawn and garden encourages others to do so as well.
- Spending time in green spaces improves concentration and memory, and can even soothe ADHD symptoms.
- An average-sized lawn provides a cooling effect equal to the air conditioning from two houses.
- Landscaping can add up to 15 percent to the value of a home.
With all of these wonderful benefits in mind, ScottsMiracle-Gro has made it its mission to improve community garden and green space development. In 2011, we established the GRO1000 Gardens and Green Spaces Program, which aims to create 1,000 gardens and green spaces in the U.S. by 2018. Through this initiative, financial grants are awarded to cities for the installation of innovative edible gardens, public gardens and green space development within their communities. So far, more than 500 communities have created or supported community gardens and green spaces through this program.
We’ve also already taken actions that better protect our shared water resources and the communities that depend on those waters. Efforts include:
- Removing phosphorus from all our lawn fertilizer products in 2012.
- Reformulating our lawn fertilizer products to include more slow-release nitrogen allowing grass to gradually uptake the nutrient over a longer period of time and prevent the nutrient from seeping through the soil and into groundwater.
- Innovating lawn food applicators that better ensure the product is placed where it’s needed and away from where it could wash off into waterways.
- Partnering with organizations across the country to improve water quality and be more efficient when managing outdoor landscapes: See our map here.
Healthy lawns and landscapes bring an abundance of benefits to people, our communities and the environment. This spring season, we want people to know that they have options: you can still sustain lawns and gardens and use water in smart and thoughtful ways.