Achieving Sustainability Beyond Mowing Equipment
Part three of a 4-part article on sustainability and mowers
Although mowers with improved fuel efficiency and other sustainable features are appealing when seeking more sustainable grounds care, managers also have additional strategies beyond equipment selection for improving the sustainability of landscapes and their maintenance.
Plant selection is a critical element in this process because the ongoing maintenance and growth habits of the plants have a huge impact on grounds department resources and success. Managers often assume native plants are the best options to produce sustainable landscapes, but this belief is not always accurate.
If managers do not specify native plants for the appropriate environment, the new plants actually might require more water and maintenance than the plants they replaced. Managers would be better off specifying drought-resistant plants if they want to conserve water.
Managers also should consider whether the plants they specify are resistant to insects, which can improve the health of landscapes and reduce the need for fertilizers. Another sustainable option involves planting less grass. This strategy cuts water use, and it reduces the amount of mowing, eliminating still more emissions.
In deploying these and other strategies, managers need to keep in mind that sustainable landscapes still can be attractive. By specifying the most appropriate plants and efficiently specifying and maintaining turfgrass, managers can ensure that landscapes are sustainable and that they are appealing to building occupants and visitors.
Environmental sustainability has become a driving force in many organizations, so it is the responsibility of grounds managers to ensure their landscapes are as sustainable as possible. Using new-generation mowers that reduce carbon emissions is one proven method for maintaining sustainable grounds, and employing sustainable practices beyond equipment specification helps managers round out and expand an overall strategy that benefits both the organization and the environment.
Mike Fitzpatrick is vice president of U.S. Lawns — www.uslawns.com — which has more than 260 franchises nationwide. Fitzpatrick has more than 30 years of experience in the green industry.