Don’t overlook the benefits of natural grass

June 16, 2009 -  By

By: Jim Novak, Turfgrass Producers International

Take a handful of respected economists and provide all of them with the same data; ask them to review the information and offer a recommendation on how to resolve the economic crisis that was presented to them. Chances are you will get a wide variety of opinions.

But does the same hold true when you consider the benefits of natural turfgrass? Those who question the environmental benefits of natural grass will often limit their discussion to select issues of concern. Those who support natural turfgrass will offer a considerable list of positive attributes, such as it protects topsoil from water and wind erosion, absorbs and filters rain, improves air quality, produces oxygen, captures and cleanses runoff, suppresses dust, retains and sequesters carbon, recharges and filters groundwater, restores soil quality and offers numerous human health and economic benefits.

So who is right and who is wrong?

In the past several years, the United States Golf Association (USGA) has supported more than 90 university studies and research projects to evaluate the relationship between golf and the environment. The findings of its studies regarding natural grass aren’t necessarily limited to golf courses, but to sports fields, parks and recreational areas and even the average home lawn.

Rain is an important source of clean groundwater, which supplies much of our drinking water. Yet, during severe storms, water may run into streams and lakes, where it can’t move through the soil to reach the groundwater. Because natural turfgrass has a dense system of roots and shoots, it easily absorbs and filters runoff water during and after such storms. Natural grass absorbs water because its growth habitat creates many tiny spaces that trap and hold moisture. As water soaks into the grass and the soil below, it is filtered and cleansed. This process is so effective that many golf courses have become water recycling sites for their communities, using treated wastewater for irrigation.

Natural turfgrass not only keeps things cooler on a hot day, it also reduces noise pollution, reduces the glare of bright sunlight and improves the air we breathe.

The benefits of turfgrass are considerable, often overlooked and they aren’t limited to a golf course or a sports field. They are evident wherever natural turfgrass grows.

For more information on the benefits of turfgrass, visit www.TurfGrassSod.org.

About the Author:

Novak is public relations manager for Turfgrass Producers International.

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