Low-Maintenance Landscaping

The average gas-powered lawn mower generates 14.76 pounds of air pollution in an hour.  If you filled a round balloon with this, it would have a diameter of 6'6".  That's enough carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane, non-methane hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter to envelope Michael Jordan in a giant wheezy bubble.

Growing more is the easiest way to mow less.  Non-invasive trees, shrubs, flowers, groundcover, and edible plants--all reduce air pollution, all can be attractive additions to a yard, and all can save you time and money in the long run.

One of the best ways to reduce your lawn-related air pollution is to give your lawn a low-mow facelift.  Reducing the amount of turf grass in your yard with low maintenance landscaping reduces the need for lawn equipment that contributes to air pollution and provides additional environmental benefits also known as ecosystem services.

“Low maintenance landscaping” includes various types of landscaping that visually enhance the property with very minimal use of gasoline-powered equipment such as lawn mowers, string trimmers, leaf blowers, etc. It may include the following types of plants and alternative techniques, including combinations of plants and materials:

  • Native grasses and wildflowers
  • Ground covers
  • Shrubs and trees
  • Perennials and other flowers, and decorative grasses (that do not need mowing)

Keep in mind that low maintenance landscaping does not mean “no maintenance.” Louisville Metro has an ordinance that requires grass and weeds that are not part of a garden to be less than 10 inches. Violating this ordinance can result in penalties and fines. In addition, every landscape requires maintenance. However, low maintenance landscaping requires less maintenance and use of lawn equipment than traditional landscaping.

For ideas on how to transform your landscaping to low maintenance, see our how-to page or our step by step slide presentation (PDF).

A naturally-landscaped hillside

This “no-mow” hillside garden is easier to maintain than grass.

APCD recognizes homeowners, businesses, schools, faith-based organizations, parks, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and other landowners who minimize the use of gasoline-powered equipment through landscaping or air-friendly equipment with its Environmental Stewardship Award. Award nominations may be made by anyone; self-nominations are welcome.

  • Nominate a yard or site for an Environmental Stewardship Award.
  • Links to additional landscaping and garden-related resources


E-mail us, call us at 574-6000 with questions, comments or information, or mail to Lawn Care for Cleaner Air, Air Pollution Control District, 850 Barret Avenue, Louisville, KY 40204-1745.