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Due to anxieties about water conservation, many people are switching to artificial or synthetic turf. However, having a lawn full of natural grass benefits the environment in many more ways. If you are considering switching to artificial turf, please consider the benefits that a natural lawn has to the environment.
Natural grass improves air quality
In America, turf grasses rid the air of approximately 12 million tons of dirt and dust annually along with carbon dioxide and other impurities. Precipitation and dew help move any air-borne impurities into the actual root zone where dirt and dust will return into the soil and the soil microbes will help to break the pollutants down.
Natural grass generates oxygen
Enough oxygen is produced by a lawn of 50 square feet to meet the oxygen needs of four people each day. That can easily and quickly add up. Researchers at the University of Maryland discovered that the state’s 1.15 million acres of managed grasses in 2005 actually generated approximately enough oxygen for 80 million people.
Natural grass purifies rainwater
Environmental contamination is reduced by turf grasses as well as the soil microbes existing within them in lawn-like, turf settings as they purify water and break down pollutants that move into the root zone. When pollutants are inside of the atmosphere, it can make rainwater so acidic that it actually can do damage to the environment. Filtering the rainwater through a natural, healthy lawn, however, can lower its acidity to just one-tenth in its original state.
Natural grass decreases runoff and assists with recharging aquifers underground
Lawns that are healthy and established actually slow the flow of rainwater and they allow it to be absorbed by the soil and the ground. This filters the water and returns it to aquifers instead of causing it to flow into actual storm sewers. Healthy and dense lawns allow up to 15 times less runoff than unhealthy, thin grasses, and lush lawns are six times more successful in absorbing rain than a field of wheat, although a field of wheat is known for erosion control.
Natural grass improves soil quality with lawn clippings
Lawn clippings that are left to decompose naturally lead to benefits like providing nutrients. Clippings that are from a healthy Kentucky lawn of 1000 square feet, for example, can equal about three applications of lawn fertilizer. The processes of natural lawns can help to increase dark organic matter, improve the soil condition as well as quality, and increase the activity of beneficial microorganisms in the soil.
Natural lawns provide a safe and clean place for recreational activities
With a natural lawn, there may be cushioned, softer surfaces for playing that will cause fewer injuries than artificial alternatives, which can cause unsure footing. Synthetic turf can also need more irrigation than natural turf to decrease high surface temperatures down to safe levels for recreation.
Well-maintained, natural turf reduces the risk of fire hazards
If turf grass is healthy and maintained well, it can act as a fire retardant and offer significant protection from wildfires. Natural grass that is low growing (like grass in well-maintained lawns) will present a low hazard with almost no potential for fueling fires.
Natural grass reduces soil erosion caused by water and wind
When there are extensive root systems that accompany most natural turf grass, they can lock soil in place and protect it from loss by water and wind. With grass, it’s estimated that 90% of the plant’s weight is in the roots. A single grass plant in optimal conditions can prove 300 miles of erosion-controlling roots.
Natural lawns cool themselves
Through cooling evaporation, lawns offset 50% of solar heat. The surface air temperature over the grass is typically 10° to 14° Fahrenheit cooler than the air over concrete or asphalt. This will directly affect the energy bills of surrounding homes. Surface temperatures over artificial turf, however, can be 37° Fahrenheit higher than the surface temperature over asphalt.
A natural turf traps and stores carbon
Each year, about 5% of the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is captured by U.S. lawns. Then the lawn grasses convert the trapped carbon dioxide into a stable form of carbon that will be locked into the soil. Carbon is held in the soil instead of being released into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming and greenhouse gases.
The community in which you live and your family’s quality of life will be benefited by natural grasses as artificial turf simply won’t do. It’s also a good idea to include water-wise lawn care practices as well as natural items such as mulches that conserve water and also flower beds. This will enhance the lawn areas, adding to their many advantages. It’s a great environmental choice to have a healthy, well-maintained lawn.
Sara Crawford is an author and blogger from Atlanta, Georgia. She occasionally writes for The Turfgrass Group. She has written novels, produced her own plays, and performed as a singer/songwriter. She is passionate about the act of creation, and she adores the written word.