Last updated: January 23, 2023
Sustainability maintained turf serves the environment in many ways.
Turfgrass Reduces Runoff
Turfgrasses slow down the speed and reduce the force of flowing water, allowing more of it to be absorbed into the soil to the benefit of groundwater reserves. Also, any settlement that has been picked up by water is invariably trapped within the stand of turfgrass. This prevents many of the pollutants and other chemicals that rain water gathers from ending up in our water system; instead they go in the soil where they can be broken down safely. Runoff and subsequent soil erosion is considered to be one of the main causes of nutrient contamination of our water supplies. Reducing stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces is a relatively new concept in landscape design with rain gardens being developed in some residential neighborhoods. Some researchers are also recommending designing turf areas to serve as catchments and filtrations zones for polluted runoff water.
Turfgrass Prevent Erosion
Turf systems are not only efficient at catching and filtering water but are also very efficient at holding on to nutrients. Nutrients such as phosphorus are fixed onto soil particles or taken up by the turf, and they do not leach out readily. Turf’s fibrous root system binds the soil together preventing it from being carried off by rains and wind. The blades of grass also slow down rainwater, reducing the amount of soil being carried off by the force of the water. With soil erosion becoming an increasing problem, turfgrass can play vital role in reducing losses.
Turfgrass Replenishes Air
Plants take up carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the atmosphere and grass is no exception. Well-managed turfgrass can also help reduce pollen production by preventing the growth of weedy species which produce significant amounts of airborne pollen. Dust and other airborne allergens are also trapped within a dense stand of turf.
Turfgrass Promotes Safety
Healthy turfgrass serves as a barrier to fire damage and is capable of preventing a large fire from spreading out of control. Well-maintained lawns also deter insect pests such as ticks from invading and rodent pests are typically deterred from crossing large areas of turf. Turfgrass is also a soft surface for recreational purposes- statistics indicate injuries are reduced when compared with artificial services. Natural turf offers a safe, resilient surface for children.
Turfgrass Regulate Temperature
Turf is considerably cooler than most other common surfaces, fifteen degrees colder than concrete and 30 degrees less than synthetic turf. The process of transpiration has a cooling affect that lowers the temperature of the air around the turfgrass plant. Studies have shown that the amount of heat given off by bare soil or poorly maintained turf is substantially more than that of a healthy well maintained stand of turfgrass.
Turfgrass Supports Bioremediation
Pollutants, such hydrocarbons and heavy metals, that are detrimental to the health of people, plants, and animals, often end up in our soil where these substances can be broken down by bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. A healthy stand of turfgrass possess an extensively fibrous root system, providing both the habitat and energy source for these microbial populations to be much more productive than other plant systems.
Turfgrass Sequesters Carbon
Stands of healthy turfgrass play an important role in carbon sequestration or removal of carbon from the atmosphere. During photosynthesis, carbon dioxide is converted into plant biomass allowing for long-term storage of carbon below the ground within roots. Where grassland systems differ from other ecosystems is that the below ground biomass is relatively large compared to the above ground growth.
Turfgrass Helps with Noise
Turf studies have demonstrated that if turf is planted on a sloped barrier facing a noise source, noise can be reduced by as much as 8 to 10 decibels. Any noise that penetrates is rendered softer and less irritating.