Survey of turf experts unearths little-known benefits, common misconceptions, developing trends
(HIT) – Grass Seed USA, a national coalition of grass seed farmers and academic turf specialists, found consensus among academic experts about the benefits of a natural lawn. In an annual qualitative survey of the nation’s leading authorities on natural turf, Grass Seed USA identified four consistent themes including how lawns enhance communities, its environmental benefits, common misconceptions on water and fertilizer usage, and the dawn of drought-tolerant grass.
Enhanced Sense of Community
First, experts like Thom Nikolai of Michigan State University agree that, “maintained lawns provide a sense of community, belonging and pride, and therefore, enhance self-respect.” He cites a study performed in Flint, Mich., in which residents were found to interact more with their neighbors and felt safer when the lawns of abandoned homes and lots in the neighborhood were mowed weekly.
Environmental Benefits Abound
Turf experts are in agreement that a natural lawn is good for the environment: it’s one of the most efficient and inexpensive ways to control erosion, and it aids in fighting pollution. “Dense, well-established turf will prevent wind erosion of soil as well as solid erosion when it does rain,” says Brad Parker of Rutgers University. The extensive root system of a thick lawn effectively absorbs rainfall and virtually eliminates any runoff.
John Stier at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville has found that consumers assume that lawns contribute to pollution. “In fact,” he says, “multiple studies show that lawns can actually reduce urban runoff and soil and water pollution, as well as help to capture compounds that would otherwise contribute to global warming.” A lawn of just 50 square feet effectively captures carbon dioxide and releases enough oxygen to meet the needs of a family of four.
Ease Back on Care
As Clint Mattox of Oregon State University notes, “lawns are often unjustly thought to need a great deal of water and pesticides just to survive.” Most survey participants indicated that consumers tend to use more water, fertilizer and other treatments than are required. Overwatering is one of the biggest downfalls, and lawns need a thorough watering just once or twice a week. Depending on their variety and the climate, lawns may need fertilization only once a year, but it’s important to confirm a schedule with a turf expert at a local garden store.
The Future of Grass
Finally, as new varieties of grass are developed, drought-tolerant varieties are among the most highly anticipated in the industry. Mattox explains that, “The breeding of new varieties of salt-tolerant and drought-tolerant grasses will allow consumer lawn owners to benefit from the advantages of a home lawn while actively participating in fresh-water conservation.”
About Grass Seed USA
Grass Seed USA is a national coalition of grass seed farmers and academic turf specialists with a wealth of experience in studying, growing and harvesting grass and grass seed. The coalition seeks to inform and educate residential and commercial customers about the benefits of grass and best practices for responsibly growing and maintaining healthy turf. For more information, visit www.weseedamerica.com, or follow on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.