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Sod Ethics

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Well, this is really the big question. I chose not to really examine this prior to putting in my lawn, because I knew I wanted to go this route. How bad is sod farming for the earth? I'm not talking as much about the food not lawns perspective which is sure valid but getting a lawn from 100 miles plus away with all the energy and chemicals and possibly imported soil irrigation, etc.
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Sod/sod farming doesn't bother the earth but you asked the question so it must be setting off your ethics alarms.

Sod is engineered to be perfect grass so it will produce the ideal lawn. Water waste, fertilizer usage, loss of miniature ecosystems that thrive in yard spaces, conformity of appearance, cost in fuel per mowings/trimmings and the associated noise pollution, hybridization, the collusion of the multi-billion dollar yard care industry and the multi-billion dollar advertising industry to convince homeowners that yards need lawns and recycling laws that require homeowners to pay for the collection of decomposible yard waste in the form of weekly lawn clippings that then go to a dump site to decompose on someone else's property are all complaints that have been raised about sod.

Wild yards can be very attractive and have a non-sterile and unique feel about them that is lost to the manicured lawns; but cultivated and manicured lawns were once the privelege of the aristocracy and as such remind today's homeowners that in acquiring property they have acquired social standing.

Humble grass has come a long way
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Location: Bellevue, WA
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There's certainly the other things you could be doing with the land. But let's assume you examined that and decided a lawn was really the best way to go...

It sounds like you already have a bit of an understanding of some of the environmental impacts of your choice: the sod had to travel farther than the seed, it might have been raised with careless water usage, heavy nitrogen fertilizer, etc.

But like with many other things that are grown, the environmental impact is really a function of the farm that you bought it from. I'm familiar with plenty of eco-friendly sod farms in the Pac Northwest that use thoughtful water techniques, and keep their soil rich naturally. My recommendation (unless you've sodded already) is to research where your sod is coming from, and use the most local, eco-friendly place you can.

Other than that, make sure that your soil is well-prepared to receive the sod. It needs to be in as good of condition as if you were seeding - else your sod won't take root! And you don't want to waste a batch of sod since it's tugging at your conscience.

Best of luck with your new lawn!
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