Most of us take our lawns for granted. Sure, we feed it. Weed it. Mow it. Manicure it. And we take great pride in showing it off.
But in reality, that thick, lush carpet of grass does much more than just increase the value of our property. Few people recognize the important role that healthy turf plays in our environment.
Healthy turf decreases water runoff and soil erosion
Take a look at your landscape the next time there’s heavy rainfall. You’ll notice a steady stream of water running down the driveway into the storm drain. But you’ll find very little water running off your lawn. That’s because healthy turf traps precipitation better than any other surface on earth. In fact, the average suburban lawn (about 10,000 square feet) can absorb more than 6,000 gallons of water before runoff will occur.
As that water is absorbed, the grass’ root system helps to keep the soil intact, reducing erosion. The soil and water combine to nourish all the plants in the landscape-trees, shrubs and flowers-before soaking through to recharge groundwater, the source of fresh water for many of our communities.
Healthy turf reduces pollution
In addition, lawns help filter impurities that gather in rainfall. An acre of healthy grass can absorb hundreds of pounds of sulfur dioxide, for example, during one year. Grass is also a primary collector of dust and dirt, trapping an estimated 12 million tons each year that would otherwise contaminate the air.
Healthy turf cools the summer air
Walk barefoot in the summer and you can immediately tell the difference in temperature between the hot sidewalk and the lawn. Studies have shown that turf remains a comfortable 75°F when the sidewalk is at 100°F. As a further example, studies estimate that average lawns surrounding eight homes have the same cooling effect as 70 tons of air conditioning. The average home air conditioning unit carries about 3 to 4 tons of cooling capacity.
Healthy lawns provide the air we breathe
You may recall that photosynthesis converts carbon dioxide into oxygen, which means that the lawn outside your home provides most of the oxygen you breathe. Consider, a 50-foot by 50-foot area of healthy turf will provide enough oxygen for a family of four. And studies estimate that the grass and trees found along the interstate highway system in the U.S. creates enough oxygen each year to support 22 million people.
So, in addition to making your home more valuable-after all, a study of home buyers felt that a well maintained landscape adds 15 percent to the value of a home-taking pride in your lawn also helps with its environmental impact.
Simply put, a healthy lawn equals a healthy environment.