Turf industry defends the benefits of natural turfgrass

The benefits of natural turfgrass are defended strenuously by the turf industry. As you will read below, industry studies have described the average American as having a real fondness for natural grass, even to the point of it being as American as apple pie, hot dogs and baseball.

The turfgrass industry which comprises both the growing, installation and maintenance of turf in the U.S. is nearly a 40 billion industry compared to that of synthetic turf industry expected to reach 1.2 billion by 2016. Given these numbers, it seems that natural grass is here to stay and synthetic grass can only improve.

I see the only threat to the natural turf industry is the passage of regulations by municipalities to curtail the use of water and since lawns require a lot of water, they may be affected by being displaced by the artificial alternative in new installations or remodeling projects like sports fields and stadiums.

Without any additional commentary, below is a laundry list of the benefits of real turfgrass excerpted from the article on the The Lawn Institute’s website:

The Environmental Benefits

The satisfaction of creating beauty within the landscape can be rewarding for you and the environment. With turfgrass sod, the rewards are practically immediate.

  • A well maintained lawn and landscape can enhance the “curb appeal” adding as much as 15 percent to the value of a home.

Pollution Control

Today’s improved turfgrass varieties are very effective in reducing pollution.

  • Turfgrass traps and removes dust and dirt from the air.
  • 2,500 square feet of lawn absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and releases enough oxygen for a family of four to breathe.

Nature’s Air Conditioner

Another benefit that everyone enjoys, usually without notice, is turfgrass’ tremendous cooling effect.

  • On a hot summer day, lawns will be 30 degrees cooler than asphalt and 14 degrees cooler than bare soil.
  • The front lawns of eight houses have the cooling effect of about 70 tons of air conditioning. That’s amazing when the average home has an air conditioner with just a three or four ton capacity.
  • The cooling effect of irrigated turf reduces the amount of fuel that must be burned to provide the electricity which powers the air conditioners.
  • Watered when the grass plant needs it, turfgrass will very efficiently and effectively use almost every drop.

A Natural Filter

Runoff water in urban areas carries many pollutants.

  • Turfgrass acts as a natural filter, reducing pollution by purifying the water passing through its root zone.

Soil Erosion

The clean gentle strength of turfgrass is the most cost-effective method for controlling wind and water erosion.

  • A healthy sodded lawn absorbs rainfall six times more effectively than a wheat field and four times better than a hay field.
  • A sodded lawn will absorb greater amounts of rain than a seeded lawn; even after three years of growth.

Fun & Games

The soft resilient surface of turfgrass is the safest and least expensive place to play.

  • For backyard ball games or the Super Bowl, athletes of all sizes prefer the green cushion of turfgrass.
  • Turfgrass is the only place for putting, picnics or just plain relaxing.

Our Mental Health

Turfgrass quietly adds to the beauty of our lives and even our mental and physical health.

  • Doctors have shown that people recover faster in a hospital when given a landscape view, rather than seeing only the walls of adjoining buildings.

The Lawn Institute has stated for some time that Americans love their lawns and have a special fondness for natural grass. Surveys conducted by the NFO World Group for the Evergreen Foundation, New Prague, MN and the National Turfgrass Research Initiative, NTEP (National Turfgrass Evaluation Program) respectively, bare out the fact that green space and especially green lawns may be as American as apple pie, hot dogs and baseball. The following survey results speak for themselves:

Psychological Health (1)

  • 93% of homeowners rank green space important
  • 86% find that a nice lawn is a positive reflection on the homeowner
  • 63% of homeowners feel a landscape is an outlet for self-expression and creativity (1)

Regional Economics (1)

More than 90% of homeowners surveyed feel that having a well maintained lawn improves property values.

  • Roughly 74% of homeowners feel lawns and landscapes of neighbors are important when buying a house
  • 73% said the lawn is an important consideration when buying a house (1)

National Economics (2)

  • Turf establishment and maintenance generates $40 billion to the U.S. economy annually

(1) Survey conducted in 2002, by NFO World Group for the Evergreen Foundation, New Prague, MN, www.evergreenfoundation.com (2) National Turfgrass Research Initiative, NTEP, April 2003 Survey, www.ntep.org

For another perspective, lets see the environmental benefits of the alternative turfgrass known as artificial grass or synthetic turf.