There are many benefits to keeping a healthy lawn. At first glance, the main reason is that it beautifies your home and is purely aesthetic. A green lawn gives the kids a safe place to play and it also gives them a reason to expend energy outside. A lawn is not just for kids though, it creates a relaxing atmosphere for the entire family, allowing everyone to enjoy its natural beauty. Proper landscaping is essential in the real estate market as well. Curb appeal is one of the motivating factors for home buyers. The majority of home buyers also believe that lawns are a better investment than a covered patio or decking, as properly maintained landscaping can add up to 15% to a home’s values. The average homeowner is also becoming more and more environmentally conscious. Because of that, they are a strong force in the United States. This means that homeowners are willing to do their part in order to secure a better life for our nation’s children. Many homeowners recycle on a weekly basis, or drive hybrid cars. They may even buy products made from recycled materials. However, few homeowners realize the important environmental benefits of a healthy lawn.
An average front lawn has a cooling effect of between 7-9 tons of air conditioning. This is more than double the effect of the average home’s central air conditioning unit, which are only around a 3-4 ton capacity. If this seems like an odd fact, think about this: when was the last time you stood barefoot on a lawn in the middle of summer? Compare that to trying to stand on asphalt in the same weather. Most people cannot bear to be on hot asphalt for any extended period of time, but they can spend hours on cool grass.
Conservationists belittle lawns and believe them to be a drain on our natural resources. However, they are in fact a strong part of our ecosystem. A dense lawn absorbs rain more effectively than a wheat or hay field. The average lawn has around 6 healthy plants per square inch and each plant produces upwards of 350 miles of roots. If you use that as an estimated figure, then that means that the average lawn has over 8 million plants and that produces over 2.5 billion miles of roots. You may have noticed that when it rains, your lawn tends to hold the vast majority of the water. The runoff that gets into the sewers and drainage system are mainly from the streets and driveways, not the landscaping.
This is essential in preventing runoff and protecting the top soil. Lawns also begin the purification process by filtering water and beginning to breakdown pollutants in the rainfall. The root system’s natural filtering absorbs any excess fertilizers and chemicals before reaching the groundwater. With the groundwater as our source of drinking water, this filtering process keeps your family healthy.
Now as far as the leaves are concerned, they act as filters in a different way. They collect the dust particles in the air. Lawns trap upwards of 10 million tons of dust and dirt particles annually in the United States making them very effective allergen killers. These grass shoots also absorb many types of atmospheric gasses. This includes things like automobile exhaust, carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gasses. When the leaves absorb these gasses, what we receive as a by-product is oxygen. One 100 square foot lawn produces enough oxygen to support a family of four. If your lawn is twice that size, you can be proud that you are helping another family breath good air as well.
If that was not enough, grass is a major contributor in the process of making new soil. Every lawn continually adds to the organic matter in soil by its’ own life cycle. As the grass dies and decomposes, the soil redevelops and in turn helps create more baby grass shoots. As an added bonus to that, if you leave your grass clipping on the lawn, you return significant nutrients to help it grow and diminish the chances of polluting our groundwater. If you do choose to throw your grass clippings away, many places have a recycling pick up that uses the green waste to naturally decompose other rubbish in landfills.
The Lawn Institute of America estimates that there are over 30 million acres of managed grass in the United States. To put that number in a more manageable term, that is over 50,000 square miles. That would be like having the entire state of Louisiana covered in one big lawn. Taking care of your lawn and keeping it healthy can be tricky, but next time you take your mower out of the garage you can be proud that you are doing the environment a great service.