The Benefits of Turf Grass
Most homeowners tend to overlook the value that a healthy lawn has. There is a notion among home garden enthusiasts that grass isn’t necessary in the landscape and has almost no positive effect on the environment. While growing a lawn is a monoculture, which is generally viewed as having negative effects on soil and landscape sustainability, a healthy lawn actually improves soil quality and reduces top soil loss due to wind and water erosion.
Roots of turf grass are rhizomes, which means they spread laterally and abundantly. These rhizomes bind the plant to the soil creating a thick, strong layer of grass which in turn, strengthens top soil.
Another way turf grass improves the environment and life for all, is through capturing and filtering dust. The blades of turf grass essentially serve as filter strips. Additionally, thatch – a dense layer of dead grass beneath the turf – acts as a net, capturing dust as it settles, filtering through the plant and into the soil. Through this process, the amount of runoff transported into streams and rivers is reduced to practically nothing. The reduction in runoff volume linked to turf can lead to a decrease in stormwater management expenses and reduction in water source pollution.
The urban and suburban landscape, which includes lawns also plays an important role in reducing air temperatures through evapotranspiration – the process of water evaporating off of plants. Temperature reduction can range from 7° to 14°F which can significantly reduce air conditioning costs. One estimate suggests that planting lawns and other landscape plants could reduce total U.S. air conditioning energy requirements by 25%
One of the nations leading turf grass researcher and advocate is Vic Gibeault, (University of California Cooperative Extension Environmental Horticulturist and delegate to the UC Riverside Turfgrass Research Advisory Committee). Regarding turf’s benefits, Gibeault said, “Cost-benefit analyses will express a truncated view of turf’s advantages to the environment and human health. As we educate our clientele about well-maintained turf, they will have a comprehensive view of its multiple, essential benefits to the urban and suburban communities.”