Each of us is becoming more environmentally conscious and willing to “pitch in” to help the environment in our own way. Most of us are now recycling aluminum cans and plastic containers, taking our used motor oil to participating stations, purchasing more energy-efficient appliances for our homes, and willing to buy more products made with recycled material.
This is the age of environmental consumerism! One person’s or family’s environmental stewardship can make a difference, and collectively, it’s making a big impact on our environment.
If you’re one of the 50 million homeowners trying their best to maintain a healthy lawn and landscape, you’re an even better environmental steward than you may have thought! Our home landscape and maintained grass areas are major environmental helpers that are often overlooked. Just think of what our world would be like without lawns, trees, and shrubs! Let’s focus on the environmental benefits of grass:
In the United States alone, it is estimated that there is more than 31 million acres of grass. . .about 50,000 square miles of it. If we could put it all together, that would be about the size of the New England states! Over 80% of this grass is found in lawns like yours.
Grass Conserves Water and Cleans the Air
The next time it rains, notice where the water comes from that fills the street gutters and flows into the storm sewers. You’ll find that very little run-off comes from your lawn.
That’s because dense, healthy grass is the best natural surface we have for trapping precipitation and reducing soil erosion. A healthy 10,000-sq.-ft. lawn (about the size of an average suburban lot) can absorb more than 6,000 gallons of rainwater without noticeable runoff.
The water nourishes grass, trees, shrubs, and flowers before soaking through the topsoil and replenishing groundwater supplies. Groundwater reserve is very important, since it is the main source of fresh water for many of our communities.
Grass also helps clean our air. With about 8 million individual grass plants in a well-maintained average-sized 10,000-sq.-ft.lawn, its no wonder that grass is a primary collector of dust and dirt. It is estimated that grass areas trap some 12 million tons of dust and dirt from the air annually. For example, just one acre of grass can absorb hundreds of pounds of fossil fuel-created sulfur dioxide in a single year.
Comfort and Energy Conservation
The greenery around us truly is nature’s air conditioner! A well-maintained lawn and landscape keeps your home cooler on hot days, reducing surface temperatures by 30 to 40 degrees compared with bare soil, and 50 to 70 degrees cooler than streets and driveways. Researchers have calculated that the healthy landscapes of eight average-sized suburban homes provide the cooling-effect equivalent of 70 tons of air conditioning. Compare that with the 3 to 4-ton capacity of the average home air conditioning unit. Thanks to your landscape and those of your neighbors, you’re conserving energy resources…and saving money.
Life-giving Oxygen Generator
Here’s another fact that might surprise you. Grass and other plant material are a source of the air we breathe. Through the process of photosynthesis, green plants convert carbon dioxide and other gases into oxygen. Your landscape is one of the best oxygen producers we have, with a 50-ft. by 50-ft. area producing enough oxygen for a family of four. Furthermore, It is estimated that the grass and trees along the U.S. interstate highway system release enough oxygen to support 22 million people annually.
Grass is one of the major producers of new soil. Your lawn is continually making topsoil by developing, dying off, decomposing, and redeveloping. By leaving clippings on the lawn and allowing them to decay naturally (called grasscycling), you return to the lawn a significant amount of nutrients that help it to grow.
Grasscycling also helps our communities solve their growing landfill problems. Did you know that the average lawn produces 233 pounds of grass clippings per 1,000 square foot during the growing season? It is estimated that 25% of our landfill areas are made up of grass clippings and lawn debris. More and more state and local governments are passing laws to prohibit lawn waste in landfills. Grasscycling definitely helps the environment.
Reducing Chemical Use
Proper mowing, watering, and fertilizing practices develop a lawn that needs less chemicals to control weed, insect, and disease problems. This is particularly true when you have established your lawn with improved grass varieties. These improved varieties generally provide a denser grass cover that is more resistant to insect and disease damage, more tolerant of drought, and has lower fertility requirements. The reduction of chemical use contributes to a more balanced natural environment. Buy a premium turfgrass sod or seed variety, mixture, or blend suitable for your area.
North America the Beautiful
Wherever grass grows, it not only provides environmental benefits, but also gives us a place to relax, have fun, cool off, and generally feel good about ourselves. Did you know that one of the things most missed by soldiers during the Desert Storm Operation in the Middle East was a green lawn?
One Family Can Make a Difference
Just as individual aluminum and plastic recycling efforts help the environment, one family can make another positive contribution by creating and properly caring for a quality lawn area. In addition to possibly realizing a 10 to 15% increase in property value from a well-maintained lawn and landscape, you will have lower summertime air conditioning bills and will be contributing to an improved environment.
Pat yourself on the back for being a good environmental steward by working hard to properly maintain your home lawn and landscape. You deserve it! The Lawn Institute commends you for your efforts!