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Old 04-14-2014, 11:50 AM
 
Location: Volcano
12,971 posts, read 23,489,817 times
Reputation: 10573

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakster View Post
Supposedly mowers pollute a lot more than driving your car and I believe it even though I don't know this as fact. I certainly drive my car a heck of lot more than I use my push mower though.
Not more polluting in gross terms, perhaps, but far more polluting proportional to use. And weed-eaters and leaf blowers are even worse. Visiting friends in California last year when the gardeners came, I was surprised by the blue haze in the air when they were done... never mind the noise.

When I commented that there didn't seem to have been any progress in the couple of decades since I lived there, they said there had been several campaigns to ban the noisy, smoky two-stroke machines by local government which all went down to defeat because all the landscaping services argued there was no suitable replacement. So well manicured lawns trumped clean air concerns, at least locally. Maybe the unprecedented water shortage this year will give them a different perspective.
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Old 04-14-2014, 01:59 PM
 
4,718 posts, read 8,928,668 times
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What good is clean air, if your yard isn't manicured and green?

Here is some research on a push mower vs. a car. It is sourced from the EPA and the assumptions the person used are included. I see no reason to NOT believe the comparision, do you? (I don't know and don't claim to be an emissions expert)

To simplify matters, we compared the maximum pollution allowed by federal law for mowers versus cars, and assumed our benchmark grass cutter was a six-horsepower push mower operated at half throttle. We were interested in two types of pollutants: carbon monoxide, or CO, and hydrocarbons plus nitrogen oxides, which we'll call HC+NOx.

Under current standards, in an hour a push mower will produce the same HC+NOx as a car driven 257 miles, and the same CO as one driven 401 miles. To put it another way, assuming a car averages 40 miles per hour, a push mower produces more HC+NOx than six cars and the same CO as ten.

Things will improve when federal emissions standards for lawn mowers are tightened in 2012. Under the new standards, a push mower may produce as much HC+NOx as a car driven 160 miles — in other words, one lawn mower would equal four cars.

Big deal, you say. I run my lawn mower 20 minutes a week. How much damage could I be doing?

This is narrow thinking. Looking at the big picture, we realize mower emissions are only the beginning of what’s wrong with American lawn care. Consider:

Estimates vary wildly, but it's likely Americans burn more than 600 million gallons of gasoline a year cutting the grass. Hell, the EPA estimates at least 17 million gallons of gasoline are spilled annually just filling lawn mowers.
In 2009, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 86,000 injuries involving lawn mowers required a trip to the emergency room; in 6,400 of these cases the victim was dead on arrival or wound up hospitalized. The CPSC estimated in 2003 that lawn mower accidents cost us $5.4 billion per year.
But perhaps you remain blasť. Who needs all those toes? OK, one last point:

In a time of dwindling water supplies, somewhere between a third to half of residential water use is for lawn and garden irrigation, and about half of that water is wasted by poor watering practices.

Source: The Straight Dope: Does using a gasoline-powered lawn mower produce as much pollution as driving an SUV 300 miles?
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Old 04-16-2014, 04:21 PM
 
Location: Londonderry, NH
41,505 posts, read 51,130,889 times
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Some plant geneticist needs to develop a grass that stops growing at three inches of so above the ground.
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Old 04-16-2014, 07:56 PM
 
7,281 posts, read 8,808,940 times
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Many people who own lawn mowers never bother to tune the engines or replace the engines when they are worn. Unlike car engines, mower engines aren't know for being made to close tolerances and long after they are no longer running as efficiently as they should, they are kept in service, polluting away.

Newer mower engines pollute a lot less but try to get the professional gardeners to buy new equipment when the old mowers are still running. They will take their trucks in for service and in California, to pass smog tests but that smoking mower engine? No bid deal, use it even though it blows oil out of the exhaust.

If you have enough money to pay for lawns you probably have enough to replace a worn mower engine.
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Old 04-16-2014, 08:16 PM
 
4,718 posts, read 8,928,668 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GregW View Post
Some plant geneticist needs to develop a grass that stops growing at three inches of so above the ground.
That would be cool... Can they also make it choke out weeds too? Ohh wait, the anti-GMO crowd would go nuts over that....
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Old 04-17-2014, 10:47 PM
 
Location: Fort Collins, USA
1,438 posts, read 2,348,674 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GregW View Post
Some plant geneticist needs to develop a grass that stops growing at three inches of so above the ground.
There is a turf grass that only grows to 4-5 inches. It's called buffalo grass and is native to cold winter grasslands that get around 15 inches of precipitation per year. I have it in my back yard and love it but it is a warm season grass that greens up late and doesn't tolerate shade. Anyway, the cynic in me suspects that even if somebody developed a bluegrass or Bermuda grass variety that only grew to 3 inches, the lawn-obsessed would only use it if it were identical in every other way to the grass they were replacing. If the shade of green or texture were even slightly different that would smack of making a sacrifice (however small) and would be enough to dissuade a lot of people from making the change.

All of which doesn't augur well for getting substantial numbers of people to voluntarily give up their gas powered mowers.
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Old 04-18-2014, 04:24 AM
 
Location: The Woods
16,927 posts, read 22,162,991 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakster View Post
You had better live in the country as most incorporated cities have laws against that. You can't even grow food in your front yard down here...
Those laws need to be abolished. It's well past time the lawn mania is ended. Between the lawn mowers, chemicals dumped on them (pesticides and fertilizers), erosion near streams and rivers and lakes, loss of shade for the fish in those water bodies where lawns abut them, there's just too much pollution and other problems caused by lawns. And for what? They're pretty bland and dead if you ask me. There's all kinds of very beautiful native plant species that can replace them.
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Old 04-18-2014, 11:02 AM
 
7,281 posts, read 8,808,940 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arctichomesteader View Post
Those laws need to be abolished. It's well past time the lawn mania is ended. Between the lawn mowers, chemicals dumped on them (pesticides and fertilizers), erosion near streams and rivers and lakes, loss of shade for the fish in those water bodies where lawns abut them, there's just too much pollution and other problems caused by lawns. And for what? They're pretty bland and dead if you ask me. There's all kinds of very beautiful native plant species that can replace them.
As a society we do what I have said happens, swallow camels and choke on mice. We overlook or ignore purposely those things which have a very significant impact on the environment, yet can't figure out how to deal with smaller issues for which real solutions and alternatives are at hand.

Just read some of the talk in the garden forum, you'd be amazed at what people will do to maintain a lawn. They will rip out what they have (a lawn, just not what they want) to replace it with a new lawn and do that over and over again.

There is a lot of money in lawns and that is what makes curtailing them difficult. That isn't all, those artificial lawns are starting to be the rage in areas where water is a concern. Guess what that does? Gets people to run out and buy gas powered leaf blowers to blow the leaves off of them. Those leaf blowers are usually 2 cycle engines and talk about noise.

The answers aren't simple because everyone has their favorites they are unwilling to give up.

Making lawn mowers that pollute far less could be done tomorrow. No one wants to pay for it but they will run out and pay 80 grand for a Tesla or buy the latest electronics all the time, the factories that produce them among the most polluting on the planet. Strange how that works.
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Old 04-18-2014, 03:58 PM
 
Location: DC
6,496 posts, read 6,407,844 times
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I've yet to see analysis that supports lawn mowers are a significant environmental problem.
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Old 04-18-2014, 04:14 PM
 
7,281 posts, read 8,808,940 times
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"Based on current calculations, EPA estimates that the amount of pollution emitted by a lawnmower operating for one hour is equivalent to the amount of pollution emitted by a car driven for approximately 45 miles"

Source is the EPA and easy to find.

Whether or not this is a problem or not depends on the individual. Many lawns are small so they aren't mowed for an hour. Others can be quite large and take many hours to mow.
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