On warm spring weekends, many people start tending to their yards. But while landscaping and grooming the lawn, they may be contributing to climate change.

Sara Via, a professor at the University of Maryland-College Park, says gas-powered tools are a significant source of carbon pollution.

Via: “Mowers, weed whackers, roto tillers, leaf blowers …”

Synthetic fertilizer also contributes. Via says it’s energy-intensive to produce, and when over-applied, it can stimulate microbes in the soil to produce more nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas.

But she says people can make landscaping more climate-friendly – for example, by weeding and pruning using hand tools, or mowing with an electric mower. She says organic fertilizer is less harmful than synthetic, but it’s still important to use no more than needed.

Via encourages people not to worry so much if their lawn grows a bit long in spots or has some weeds.

Via: “Maybe just accept a little bit of imperfection, and that right off the bat makes your lawn more climate-friendly.”

Even better, she says, replace grass with other, low-maintenance plants.

Via: “Replace it with ground cover, replace it with beds … reducing lawn is key.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Samantha Harrington, director of audience experience for Yale Climate Connections, is a journalist and graphic designer with a background in digital media and entrepreneurship. Sam is especially interested...