I’m not an enemy of lawns, but I do think there are better, more aesthetic, and responsible landscaping methods that many of us haven’t thought out.
Texas was once part of America’s breadbasket. Farms reflected the epitome of rural life in this nation. But things have changed. And not necessarily for the better.
Here in Texas, lawns far surpass any other crop. There are approximately 3,260,000 acres of lawns here. Running a far second is cotton, which has 1,230,000 acres under cultivation. Corn acreage is estimated at 749,000 acres while sorghum is around 708,000 acres. Lawn acreage exceeds wheat by almost 7 times.
Texas isn’t the only area where lawns exceed food and textile crops.
Based on a study conducted by ScienceLine, a division of New York University, more than 40.5 million acres of green grass carpets in the U.S., far outpacing corn, which stands at about 10 million acres, alfalfa at 6.2 million acres, soybeans at 5.32 million acres and orchards, vineyards and nut trees at 4.1 million acres.
And where we have plants, we need water. Americans use about 59.6 million acre-feet of water every year on our lawns. That’s almost 2 trillion gallons of water. In comparison, water used for all major crops in the U.S. totals 42 million acre feet, or about 134 billion gallons.
In The Woodlands, during peak summer usage, residents can use about 150 million gallons a month, just for lawn irrigation.
There is progress though. Woodlands residents have significantly reduced their overall usage by about 30%. While there are still some recalcitrant homeowners (and businesses), most have heeded the call for water conservation.
To put things in perspective, the average cable television bill in The Woodlands is north of $100, as is the average electric bill. We can live without cable tv (although I have the service), and we could live without electricity (although that would be extremely uncomfortable and inconvenient). However, none of us can live more than two or three days without water. At less than one cent per gallon, it’s still the best bargain in town.