Keeping it Green

It’s April, and everything’s growing; the trees are budding, flowers are sprouting and dormant turf is waking up from it’s annual hibernation. It’s no surprise that this is the month to celebrate all things green – Arbor Day and Earth Day both fall in April. Let’s take a minute to recognize all the green you create and maintain, and the benefits it provides.

The obvious benefit of green spaces is that they provide a place for recreation – a welcome oasis particularly in urban areas where open spaces are few and far between – but there are many more often-overlooked rewards of growing grass.

In a study released by the Environmental Health Research Foundation titled “Benefits of Green Space – Recent Research,” John Heinze, Ph.D., cited the many ways that turf surfaces (lawns, playing fields, parks, etc.) contribute to a healthy environment.

While trees usually take the credit for providing oxygen to the atmosphere, grass plays a huge role as well. A 50-square-foot area of grass can produce enough oxygen for a family of four on a daily basis. The average 18-hole golf course can produce enough oxygen for 4,000 to 7,000 people, and the green space along America’s highway system cranks out enough oxygen to support 22 million people. And, green spaces purify and trap more that 12 million tons of dust, soil and other matter, preventing it from contaminating that fresh, clean air they produce. Take a deep breath … thanks turfgrass!


PHOTO COURTESY OF STOCK.XCHNG/ PAULO OLIVEIRA SANTOS.

We all know that turf areas contribute to erosion control and runoff prevention, but did you know that compared to a non-turf area (like a garden or field used for agriculture) grass can reduce soil erosion caused by runoff by up to 600 times? 600 times! Just the average, suburban turfgrass lot (roughly 10,000 square feet) is capable of absorbing more than 6,000 gallons of rainwater without noticeable runoff.

One last benefit of green areas (though there are certainly many more than I’ve addressed here) is the ability to reduce temperature, an attribute that may become even more essential in an increasingly warm climate. Trees, shrubs and lawn areas can reduce air temperatures from 7 to 14 degrees through shading and the cooling effect of the transpiration and evaporation of water through plant leaves. This cooling effect could also play a role in reducing energy costs. Heinze’s report estimates that strategic planting of lawns and other landscape plants could reduce the country’s total air conditioning energy requirements by 25 percent, potentially saving 64.5 billion kilowatt hours of energy and $6.3 billion.

All that green grass you work long, hard hours to maintain to exacting standards is more than just a playing surface, it’s also playing a major role in keeping the planet green. Hats off to all your hard work!

Katie Myers
Editor
kmeyers@MooseRiverMedia.com