Greening Your Lawn with Good Neighbor Iowa
by Guest Blogger on Wednesday, March 24, 2021
There are so many wonderful things to look forward to this spring in Iowa: flowers blooming, outdoor activities, and the return of dormant critters with the warmer weather. However, spring brings something else as well. As soon as winter is subdued, the pursuit for the perfect, well-manicured lawn begins. In order to achieve the stereotypical “ideal lawn”, homeowners may feel obligated to apply herbicides onto otherwise beautiful and biodiverse green space.
This spring, Good Neighbor Iowa wants to help you do lawn care in a safer and easier way! Our program encourages you to look deeper at how your lawn care choices affect the children, pollinators, and water of Iowa. Good Neighbor Iowa hopes to provide you with an opportunity to grow something that is so much more than just a lawn.
Good Neighbor Iowa (GNI) is a statewide public health education initiative managed in partnership with the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education, an IEC organizational member. GNI promotes an alternative, low-maintenance, and safe way to manage a beautiful, biodiverse lawn that supports ecological health and reduces the amount of toxic chemicals that our families and pets are exposed to. Our mission to reduce urban lawn pesticide use in Iowa began in 2017, and we have seen hundreds of parks, businesses, schools, and childcare centers pledge to transition to pest management policies that do not contribute harmful chemicals to the environment.
But it’s not only public places where herbicides are applied to grass. Iowan residents on average have 0.23 acres of mowed turf. We’ve perhaps unknowingly spent springs and summers spraying, hacking, digging, voiding our lawns of the biodiversity necessary to help our flowers bloom, gardens grow, and bees buzz. Good Neighbor Iowa uplifts alternative methods of fashioning your lawn in a way that serves your community and every living thing within it. By choosing to manage your lawn without pesticides such as Round Up this spring, you are also choosing to embrace a new movement that protects your community from exposure to unnecessary chemicals used for cosmetic purposes and preserves biodiversity.
Because we are a public health education initiative, we must base our claims solely on peer-reviewed articles and scientific fact. Indisputable proof on this topic is in no short supply. The evidence of harm we have complied has almost 20 peer-reviewed scientific articles that have declared cosmetic lawn pesticides unnecessary and a danger to child and environmental health.
With minimal maintenance and regular mowing, lawns managed without weed killers are just as aesthetically pleasing as treated lawns, while providing some great advantages. The most difficult step, and arguably the most beneficial one, is accepting the flowers that we have called “weeds” as signs of a healthy lawn and not signs of neglect. Dandelions and violets won’t harm anyone; weed killers will.
If you want to learn more and support Good Neighbor Iowa, join us on April 24 from 10:00-12:00 pm at Clay Street Park in Cedar Falls to celebrate Earth Day and four years of Good Neighbor Iowa! Also visit GoodNeighborIowa.org to learn more about why and how you can manage your lawn without pesticides and take our pesticide-free pledge to get your lawn on our map! The more homeowners committed to this mission, the bigger the difference we will all make. Don’t buy in to the myth of the perfectly “weed”-free lawn... rather, believe in the value of the ecosystems we can protect.
Leah Doyle, Student Fellow
Leah is a student at the University of Northern Iowa, studying Environmental Science and Biology. Leah provides program support for Good Neighbor Iowa operations and specializes in outreach.
Amelia Gotera, Student Fellow
Amelia is a student at the University of Northern Iowa, studying Studio Art. Amelia provides program support for Good Neighbor Iowa operations and specializes in outreach and social media communications.
- healthy soil
- land stewardship
- public health