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Wildflowers vs. grass: which is better for the environment?

Living on a prairie is not a prerequisite for enjoying the beauty and benefits of wildflowers. These resilient buds not only grow well in many urban environments, they also thrive and improve the soil quality anywhere they’re planted. Lawn alternatives, such as grass, require more time, money, and energy to maintain, without delivering the perks that wildflowers do. Let's take a deeper look to see how wildflowers compare to traditional grass!

Pollinator power!

Wildflowers’ decorative presence is a natural attraction to local pollinators. Their bright colors draw in bees, butterflies, and other critters who use them as a food source. It’s a win-win situation: as the animals pollinate–and therefore spread– the wildflowers, the wildflowers provide nutrients to the animals. According to the USDA “about 35 percent of the world’s food crops depend on pollinators to reproduce.” Grass lawns have the opposite effect. Fraught with pesticides, many lawns kill pollinators, even if the insects don’t pose a threat to a manicured yard.

Plays well with others.

Wildflowers further benefit the ground in which they grow. Their roots serve as a natural anchor into the soil, where they enrich it by storing water and nutrients and preventing carbon from extending into the atmosphere. Their root systems also prevent erosion, and various types can be planted in acid clay, loam, sand, chalk, or saturated soil, making them incredibly versatile in both rural and urban areas. Non-native grasses (the kind in most modern-day lawns) require careful planting in specific locations that have heavy amounts of fertilizer and water. Wildflowers need neither frequent fertilizing, watering, or even regular sunlight to thrive.

Hearty and helpful.

While the name “wildflower” implies that location is left to chance, people have cultivated these flowers for years. According to an article published by the University of Georgia, generations have planted, propagated, and harvested wildflowers. They decorated gardens, and were also prized for their medicinal and nutritive benefits. For instance, Native Americans used Georgia wildflowers like Wild Blue Indigo for eye wash and sore teeth, Dimpled Trout Lily to treat wounds, and dug up Snakeroot plants to literally treat snake bites. Although humans can have a hand in planting wildflowers, it is not necessary for their survival. In many places, the blooms have spread by wind, animals, and other methods. Native grasses, like wildflowers, also thrive in a variety of locations. Grasses found in most lawns, however, are mostly species once brought from Europe and Asia, and are invasive. Their poor acclimation to the North American climate is evidenced by how much water is required to care for them; Americans use 30-60% of fresh urban water resources on lawn care.

The state of Georgia boasts an array of annual and perennial wildflowers with their own natural superpowers. The positive effects of wildflowers are evident from improving soil quality, to their minimal care. They also provide food resources for animals and humans, while non-native grasses use up natural resources and harm wildlife, all with no yield. Consider wildflowers as a positive alternative to traditional grass in your yard!


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