Gardening Without Gas
As a matter of personal choice and, in some jurisdictions, the law, gas powered lawn equipment is gradually becoming a thing of the past. Throughout the last decade, millions of homeowners decided to purchase battery-powered or manual yard care tools instead of gas-powered ones. In late 2021, California lawmakers voted to phase-out the sale of gas powered lawn equipment by 2024, making it the first state in the nation to do so. Other states could follow. Even if it’s a great idea to reduce the pollution, noise, and hassle associated with gasoline power, is it possible to keep a beautiful, healthy yard without gas powered tools?
Know the options
A generation ago alternatives to gas fueled lawn equipment included corded electric and manual tools. Both options work well for compact landscapes but for midsize and larger yards, more power and range are required.
Battery-powered lawn equipment
The early arrivals of rechargeable battery powered mowers, blowers, trimmers, and chainsaws were seen by many as less powerful, more expensive versions of lightweight corded electric equipment. But battery tech rapidly improved to compete with gas power, so that today’s lithium-ion rechargeable battery powered equipment really is an effective, cleaner, quieter alternative to gas. Bypassing the ongoing costs of gasoline and engine maintenance equalizes the initial price difference in as little as a single season.
Robotic lawn mowers
Taking it a step further, the introduction of robotic lawn mowers could become the next revolution in lawn care. Rather than using more power, these programmable smart devices use less power, more efficiently. Much like WORX Landroids, they mow the lawn at programmed times, multiple times per week, so that the yard always looks great. Robots mow even when the owner is on vacation, plus they can avoid obstacles, adjust to weather, and even alert the homeowner in the case of theft or other emergency. Gaining hours of free time every week, the homeowner simply trims the edges as needed.
Eliminating the need for gas powered lawn equipment doesn’t have to mean switching over to more powerful, longer lasting batteries. Planting and lawn care choices continue to affect overall maintenance requirements, including the kinds of equipment needed to do the work. An affordable, sustainable way to solve the problem is to adopt a comprehensive low-maintenance landscape strategy.
Lawn grass must be mowed regularly to look and grow best, and to function as a durable ground cover for outdoor living spaces. But why commit to mowing and maintaining out-of-the-way, lesser used parts of the yard? Most homeowners could repurpose at least half of their grass area with low maintenance tree, shrub, and perennial plantings that only need seasonal touch-ups, rather than weekly maintenance. Reducing lawn space by 50 percent could make the switch from gas to battery or corded electric power much simpler.
Right-sized trees, shrubs, and hedges
Woody plants come in all sizes and shapes, both evergreen and deciduous. Planting right-sized selections for the available space ultimately makes the difference between enjoying an easy care landscape with occasional trimming, and constant pruning to control size. Avoid the temptation to plant a “fast growing” hedge or shade tree that won’t stop growing once it has filled its allotted space. Instead, measure the planting area first, then shop for a cultivar that will fill it at maturity.
Another common mistake that adds unnecessary trimming and mowing is random planting. An innocent trip to the nursery for a bag of mulch yields a beautiful new lilac, azalea, rose, or other flowering temptation that now needs a home in the landscape. Many plant lovers simply plop the new addition into a favorable spot in the middle of the yard.
Eventually the lawn is freckled with isolated individual plants, and every week these obstacles add twenty minutes of mowing and edging. There is no need to stop collecting plants. Cluster the new additions into lawn border plantings or landscape island beds to reduce time spent mowing in circles. Mulch landscape beds once or twice a year, and either hand-pull weeds or use a string trimmer as needed to reduce weed pressure.
No-mow lawn spaces and natural landscape zones continue to grow in appeal as consumers seek alternatives to conventional lawns. Natural areas become micro-habitats for migratory birds and other local wildlife, while nicely buffering the home in green space. For best results, these easy-care spaces require a bit of maintenance, such as seasonal mowing, weeding out invasives, and light pruning.
Gardening without gas
Gas-free gardening requires some adjustments, but they may not be as dramatic as you think. By reducing lawn grass coverage, making efficient planting choices, and adopting passive maintenance practices, homeowners alleviate the most power-hungry and time consuming aspects of yard care. Plus, lightweight, efficient, and increasingly powerful corded and rechargeable lawn care tools are well positioned to take on the work that is currently performed by gas-powered tools. In the light of cleaner air and less noise, the future of gardening and landscaping looks brighter than ever.