The180·The 180

The ethics of lawn watering

Alan White is the Ontario representative for the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association. He says lawn watering restrictions are missing the point: Hot, dry weather is when we need healthy grass the most.

Despite some recent smatterings of rain, Western Canada is still in the middle of a long-running drought. Ranchlands are dry, forest fires rage, and everyone's worried about the smaller than normal snow-pack.

Thanks to the drought conditions, cities and towns across the west have introduced water restrictions. 

The focus now is on the need to conserve water. People who water their lawns too much risk being called  "grassholes."

In other words, if you want to be green, your lawn had better be brown.

But Alan White says lawn watering restrictions are missing the point:  Hot, dry weather is when the environment needs healthy grass the most. He views sports fields, boulevards, and lawns as the lungs of the city -- environmentally valuable for their ability to process carbon. 

White is the Ontario representative for the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association. He's also the owner of Turf Systems -- a lawn care and irrigation company in Southern Ontario. He joins guest host Stephen Quinn to discuss his theory. 

We've been on a race to find a better smokestack, a better filter, a better mechanical way of managing the production by-products of city life; we've forgotten that plants will do it naturally for us.- Alan White, Canadian Nursery Landscape Association

"Nobody's ever thought of a soccer field as part of the green equation in a city. Nobody's every thought of a boulevard as a way to mitigate storm water runoff." 


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