Natural grass is exactly that, natural. It is a living and breathing organism that helps to convert carbons in the atmosphere into oxygen. According to the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) “a turfgrass area measuring 2,500 square feet produces enough oxygen for a family of four to breathe. An average-sized healthy lawn can capture as much as 300 pounds of carbon per year and a golf course fairway can capture 1,500 pounds per year. One soccer field can offset the carbon produced by a car driving 3,000 miles.” Those numbers within themselves could have you considering natural turf grass for your playing surface. Along with carbon reduction large areas of turfgrass, like a sports field, helps to effectively reduce noise pollution. Turfgrass contributes to reductions in noise levels by absorbing, deflecting, reflecting, and refracting the various sounds. There are also reductions in discomforting glare and light reflection.
Groundwater management and preservation
Being a large biomass, natural grass turf reduces water runoff and allows more to infiltrate the soil. Extensive, fibrous turfgrass root systems filter water percolating through the soil to enhance groundwater recharge. Once the turfgrass is established, proper maintenance can keep the water safe for collection and re-use in other applications. Effectively managed turfgrass ecosystems support abundant micro-organism populations, which contribute to increased macropore space in the soil, resulting in higher soil water infiltration rates, higher water holding capacity, and improved soil structure. It is pretty neat to know your grass is making the earth happy as well as the people using it.
Soil Restoration and Erosion Control
As mentioned above turfgrass can absorb a lot of water because turfgrass systems catch and filter runoff water. This contributes to the entrapment and biodegradation of synthetic organic compounds. Put simply decaying turfgrass leaves, stems, and roots support micro-organisms or “decomposers” that reside in the soil. This is perfect for schools with kids of all ages because it also improves soils with the addition of organic matter. Did you know turfgrass is amazing for soil restoration in environmentally damaged areas? Places like construction sites with topsoil stripped, burned over land, garbage dumps, eroded rural landscapes, mining operations, and steep timber harvest areas benefit from soil restoration when turfgrass is planted.
Turfgrass plays an important part in controlling our climate. Grassed surfaces reduce temperature extremes by absorbing the sun’s heat during the day and releasing it slowly in the evening, thus moderating temperature. On a hot summer day, a well-maintained turfgrass area will be at least 30 degrees cooler than asphalt and 14 degrees cooler than bare soil. The California Energy Commission has found the cooling effect of an average size lawn is equal to about nine tons of air conditioning. A single high school baseball field provides up to 70 tons of air conditioning. This cooling effect is beneficial for athletes and for reducing electrical needs for buildings and homes.
Health, Wellness, and Therapeutic Benefits
Greenspaces, including lawns, sports fields, and many other kinds of turfgrass have been shown to reduce stress and increase overall wellness. Studies have shown that simply looking at nice, maintained lawn areas can lower blood pressure. Then of course working with grass and plants also lowers blood pressure, reduces muscle tension related to stress, improves attention, and reduces feelings of fear and anger or aggression.
In 2002, The University of California – Riverside researched to support that hospital stays are positively affected by turfgrass and green spaces. Patients in hospital rooms with a view of nature and lawns recover more quickly than similar patients in rooms with a view of building walls. The care of turfgrass and plants can have a positive, therapeutic effect and is included in many rehabilitation programs.
These benefits are good for everyone and often help park directors and school boards choose natural turfgrass over artificial. Before you make your decision, check out our next blog on the construction and maintenance of natural grass to see if it’s truly right for your project and budget.