In an age where sustainability and environmental stewardship influence our choices, the value of a healthy lawn can sometimes be misrepresented. Although general lawn care may involve chemical fertilizers or pesticides if they are applied at the correct time and in the correct quantity, they can contribute to a healthy lawn.
A healthy lawn has numerous benefits for the homeowner, as well as the environment. Besides being aesthetically pleasing, there are a number of other important benefits to consider.
Healthy lawns can contribute to lower air conditioning costs. Compared to paved surfaces, which absorb heat and raise air temperature closer to the earth’s surface, vibrant lawns reduce air temperature by means of a biological process called evapotranspiration.
When plants take up water from the roots it is then wicked up through the stem by means of capillary action, sort of like when you suck soda up from a straw. The openings, like that at the ends of a straw, are small pores called stomata. They help suck up the moisture from the lower portions of the plant so that it can also reach the upper leaves.
From there it is released into the atmosphere. The vaporized water then helps to regulate humidity and reduce atmospheric temperature similar to how sweat cools down the human body. Almost all plants complete this process, however grass covers a lot more surface area and is closer to the earth’s surface than other plants, making its contributions to reduced air temperature worth the extra maintenance.
Well-established lawns can also reduce various types of pollution. Compared to paved or mulched surfaces, areas covered with turf can serve as a buffer to reduce noise pollution. A healthy lawn can effectively absorb sound waves.
Combined with a planted screen it is an excellent way to privatize your area and create a tranquil space for relaxation. Well-established lawns also contribute greatly to reducing air pollution. Lawns actually improve air quality by naturally trapping and filtering dust as well as other air pollutants whether they are physical particles or chemical compounds.
The leaves help to trap the pollutants while rain and soil interactions help to break down harmful chemicals or dispose of the physical particles where we aren’t breathing them in. This concept carries onto indoor plants, and also living roofs or walls, which have this as a primary benefit in large cities such as Chicago or New York.
Again, grasses are particularly helpful because of their surface area. Much like a comb, it traps unwanted or unhealthy matter from the atmosphere.
Lastly to everyone’s surprise, healthy lawns can help reduce water pollution. This of course implies that all herbicides, fertilizers and other chemicals are applied according to the pesticide label and at the appropriate rate.
Slow rain runoff
Lawns, like rain gardens, help to slow and interrupt the flow of water during storm events. This helps water to travel downwards through the soil restoring groundwater instead of immediately going down a storm drain, which often causes streambank erosion. By encouraging water to percolate downwards, the storm water is then purified by natural chemical processes.
Healthy home lawns have additional benefits as well such as soil stabilization which helps reduce erosion potential. Healthy turf is also safer for outdoor sports compared to pavement as well as some synthetic turf types. It helps cushion impact reducing stress on the joint and other sports-related injuries.
Also, research has shown that in many cases a quality lawn can increase the value of your home and/or contribute to quicker sale.
If you have any questions or comments please share them with me at email@example.com or call the Franklin County Extension Service at 502-695-9035.