I received a phone call last week from a homeowner who was concerned about an offer he had recently received from his local water company. It seems that the water company was trying to eliminate as much grass as possible from their distribution area and were offering to pay their customers to remove their lawns. He felt that the implication of the offer was that grass is bad. It is not the first time that we at Southland Sod Farms have been notified of such efforts.
Although it would seem unnecessary to state the obvious, GRASS IS GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT! Just like trees, and other plants, it supports and enhances the environment. But, with current hyper-focus on water use, grass has become the subject of undeserved environmental criticism. Of course grass uses water, but so do all other plants. Despite the voices of its critics, here are some of the good things grass does with water.
Grass reduces greenhouse gas. Grass absorbs greenhouse gas and converts it into life-giving oxygen. Grass does this at a much higher rate than native plants because grass has higher leaf density and a faster growth rate. A 2500 square foot lawn converts enough carbon dioxide into oxygen to sustain a family of four!
Grass is nature’s air conditioner. Trees seem to get all the credit for naturally cooling the air because they provide shade, but grass lowers surface temperatures through “evapotranspiration” which is a process similiar to that used by old-fashioned evaporative coolers (“swamp coolers”) for home air conditioning. On a hot summer day, lawns will typically be 30 degrees cooler than artificial turf! Aside from just creating a comfortable setting, grass also reduces energy demand by lowering the ambient temperature around a home.
Grass purifies water. Turf (grass) roots act as a natural environmental filter, and in combination with soil biology make lawn root zones an ideal medium for the biodegradation of contaminants that are carried in runoff water.
Grass purifies the air. Grass absorbs particulates and some of the worst atmospheric pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and ozone.
Grass provides urban habitat. We think of cities as places where people live, but they are also places where native birds and animals reside. Landscapes provide the habitat and forage areas for our wildlife co-inhabitants. Turf is a highly productive forage area for birds and small mammals.