Having a nice lawn surrounding your house not only improves the quality of your life, but also improves the value of your home and helps ecologically by filtering the air and water that passes through it. But these benefits do have a cost associated with them.
It needs to be cut on a regular basis. A healthy lawn is one with a good root system which is further developed through regular mowing's at the proper height and frequency. Un mown grass is also an invitation for ticks which can transmit serious diseases. If you do-it-yourself, then mowing involves time and physical exertion, not to mention the cost and maintenance of a lawn mower. Although lawn mowers have improved greatly over the last few decades in terms of safety, they still pose certain dangers if not handled properly. Lawn mowers are typically dirty and noisy, although there are some new battery-powered models that are whisper quiet and don't pollute on the neighborhood level.
To look good, a lawn needs to be fed on a regular basis. Grass plants have a large appetite to stay in top shape. Without regular and timely feedings of properly balanced fertilizers that include special micro-nutrients, a lawn will lose it's vitality and decrease it's ability to withstand diseases and insect damage.
Lawns have a bad reputation as being polluters of our streams and rivers. While excess
nitrogen does cause waterway problems, the culprit is more likely to be from farming areas
amounts of nitrogen are applied in early spring when there is more likely to be heavy rains.
The farm fields have nothing holding back the run-off and the applied nitrogen then works
its way into our waterways.
Lawns on the other hand, are typically thick with vegetation that does an excellent job of slowing or stopping water run-off.
Professionally applied fertilizers are typically applied at the correct rate with little or no excess run-off.
Do-it-yourself homeowners are more likely to apply too much product that might result in excess run-off under the right conditions.
Pesticides. Probably the biggest disadvantage to owning a premium lawn. Pesticides can be harmful to all concerned and extreme care must be taken in it's use. Pesticides are best used in small doses and only as needed. Putting down weed-killer across the entire lawn when only a few weeds live out back isn't good. Spot treatment of weeds is preferred and if you don't mind an occasional dandelion, forget weed controls altogether. Crabgrass and other invasive weeds need to be controlled annually before they become a major problem that is expensive and time consuming to correct.
Most insects are beneficial to our ecosystem and pose no threat to our lawns, yet many homeowners will kill-off everything in sight or out of sight just to get rid of the bugs. Pesticides can be harmful and shouldn't be taken lightly by homeowners just because they can buy the stuff at the local hardware store. If not used and stored properly, pesticides can harm you, your children and your pets (even fatally). Professional lawn care applicators must be licensed by the state to apply pesticides and for good reason. To obtain a license they must have a good working knowledge of these chemicals including all of the precautions associated with them. The rate of application is also important. Homeowners typically over-apply pesticides and the results can be devastating.
Some lawns may also need supplemental waterings at various times throughout the year, but that can be greatly controlled by planting the right type of grass for specific geographic areas. Trying to put a lawn in locations that need to be watered daily is certainly not a good idea nor recommended.
Each of these items can be considered disadvantages to having a lawn. Considering the alternatives though, a lawn is a pretty good choice and well worth the investment of time, effort and money required. Environmentally, a lawn more than pays for its upkeep by filtering our air and rain water, cooling our environment during the hot months, and providing a pleasing background for everything else that goes on around our homes and parks.