How Your Lawn Helps the Environment

How to Have a Healthy, Sustainable Lawn
When you choose to have a natural grass lawn, your decision has a significant environmental impact — one that's overwhelmingly positive. Natural grass lawns are sustainable, environmentally sound choices that contribute to environmental health and stability. By choosing to plant grass and improve your lawn's sustainability, you can enjoy natural beauty along with these environmental benefits:

· Oxygen Production and Carbon Dioxide Reduction

Lawns aren't usually thought of as collections of thousands of oxygen-producing plants, but that's exactly what they are. Like all plants, grass plants in your lawn take in carbon dioxide from the air. Then, as part of the process of photosynthesis, those grasses help produce the oxygen you breathe.

Healthy lawns are remarkably efficient at oxygen production. A 25-square-foot area of healthy lawn grasses produces enough oxygen each day to meet all the oxygen needs of one adult.1 Lawns also annually take in about 5 percent of the carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere, which helps reduce the potential for global warming.2

Lawn grass and plants work together to benefit the environment.

Lawn grass and plants work together to benefit the environment.

· Erosion Control and Water Quality Preservation

A healthy, thick lawn is one of the most effective controls against soil erosion from water or wind. A healthy, thriving grass plant under ideal conditions can produce the equivalent of nearly 300 miles of roots.1 Extensive root systems on healthy grass plants hold soil in place, while grass blades protect topsoil against eroding wind and rain.

Dense turf also reduces runoff that sends water, soil and pollutants from neighboring roadways into streams and storm sewers to near zero, in all but the most intense rain events.3 Healthy grasses absorb water, help filter out pollutants such as those in acid rain, and recharge groundwater reserves and natural aquifers instead. Thick, healthy lawn grasses can help soil absorb six times the water of erosion-controlling crops such as wheat.1

· Improved Air Quality and Soil Structure

Along with carbon dioxide, lawns capture air pollutants such as dirt, dust, allergens and more serious pollutants. In the United States alone, turf grasses rid the air of an estimated 12 million tons of impurities every year, breaking down pollutants and restoring dirt and dust to the soil.1,3

When properly nourished and maintained, natural lawn grasses encourage beneficial microorganisms in soil. They also produce beneficial organic matter that improves the soil's health and structure.3 Healthy soil leads to healthy grass, which enhances all the environmental benefits lawn grasses produce.

Thick, healthy lawns absorb rain and reduce runoff.

Thick, healthy lawns absorb rain and reduce runoff.

· Temperature Modification and Cooling Effects

When heated by the sun, lawn grasses cool themselves through a natural process called transpiration, which lowers grass temperatures through evaporation. Air temperatures over concrete or similar surfaces on sunny days can be more than 14 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the temperature above natural grass lawns.1

This cooling effect explains why grass feels so good on a hot summer day, but the benefit extends to your home. An average front lawn can have a cooling effect equal to nearly nine tons of air conditioning.1 In comparison, surface temperatures of artificial turf can exceed natural grass temperatures by more than 80 degrees in the same conditions.4

Natural lawns help support the ecosytem around your home.

Natural lawns help support the ecosytem around your home.

Enhancing Your Lawn's Sustainability

You can build on the environmental benefits of grass to improve your lawn's sustainability in several simple ways:

  • Plant grasses that are appropriate to your geographical area. They'll need less resources, including water, nutrients and maintenance, than seed not suited to your area. They'll look and perform much better, too.
  • Choose superior grass seed varieties with disease and drought resistance, heat tolerance and other beneficial qualities. High-performance, water-conserving grasses such as Pennington Smart Seed require up to 30 percent less water than ordinary grasses, year after year.
  • Irrigate thoroughly and deeply when you water. Shallow, frequent watering encourages shallow roots, but deep, infrequent watering does the opposite. Deep root growth supports healthy, resilient grass and its benefits, including erosion control.
  • Follow good mowing practices for grass health and optimize environmental benefits. Adjust your mowing height taller during times of heat and low rainfall; grass will need less water and withstand stress better.
  • Leave grass clippings on your lawn to decompose. Clippings work like a natural fertilizer to provide nitrogen that lawns need for healthy green growth.

A thick, healthy natural lawn is an environmentally sound choice that benefits you, your family and the world at large. Pennington is committed to a sustainable future and to producing the finest grass seed possible so you can grow and enjoy a healthy, beautiful, sustainable lawn.

Pennington and Smart Seed are trademarks of Pennington Seed, Inc.

Sources:

  1. Maryland Institute of Applied Agriculture, "Maryland Turfgrass Survey: An Economic Value Study," University of Maryland, 1996.
  2. Qian, Y. L., R. Follett and J. Kimble, "Assessing Soil Carbon Sequestration in Turfgrass Systems Using Long-Term Soil Testing Data," Soil Science Society of America Journal, 2010
  3. Sustainable Urban Landscape Information Series, "Environmental Benefits of a Healthy, Sustainable Lawn," University of Minnesota Extension.
  4. Williams, C. Frank and G. E. Pulley, "Synthetic Surface Heat Studies," Brigham Young University, 2002.
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