Happy Earth Day! In honor of the holiday, we thought we’d take some time to acknowledge all the benefits that grass and lawns offer the environment. We bet you didn’t know all these facts!
Reduces air pollution
This is perhaps the most obvious benefit of trees and plants, but not everyone realizes that grass provides the same benefits to the earth. Actually, grass cleans the air at a faster rate than native plants because its leaves are denser and it has a quicker growth rate. Grasses clean the air by absorbing greenhouse gasses and breaking them down into oxygen.
Did you know that grass, shrubs, and trees have the ability to reduce noise? Grass helps cut the growing problem of excessive noise in urban areas, especially since hard concrete surfaces (like streets and sidewalks) reflect sound. In fact, according to a previous study from the U.S. Department of Interior and the National Park Service, grass can reduce sound levels by 20 to 30%. Furthermore, The Lawn Institute reports that grassy slopes beneath expressways can reduce noise by 8 to 10 decibels.
Naturally cools the air
Grasses are nature’s air conditioner, as they have a significant cooling effect on our environment. As a matter of fact, 8 average-sized lawns can have the cooling effect of 70 tons of AC, and that’s in comparison to the average home AC unit which is around 4 tons. During the summer, grassy areas will be around 30 degrees cooler than asphalt.
A major factor in our increasingly unfortunate water quality problem is contaminant runoff from streets. However, turf and new lawns can reduce the effects of runoff. Turfgrass roots in particular act as a natural filter as water runs through the root zone and the microbes in the soil breakdown chemicals so they are less harmful. The Lawn Institute states that rain water filtered through healthy grass is up to 10 times less acidic than water running off a hard surface like a street or parking lot.
Restores the quality of soil
Grass helps control soil erosion from wind and water. A solid yard of grass strengthens roots to stabilize soil. Essentially, the roots knit together and prevent excessive movement in the soil. These roots also break down every winter (since grass is a perennial plant) and provide organic matter to the soil, which make it more fertile and better at filtering air and water. In addition, grass leaves interfere with water runoff, allowing it to be soaked in by soil particles.
Photo by David Goehring.