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Grass benefits in lawns and sports turf are often overlooked. Most homes have lawn areas and the beauty of a uniform, green carpet surrounding the house sets the stage for other landscaping. Many people enjoy participating in outdoor sporting activities and others enjoy watching such events. Turf adds to the enjoyment and safety of the players and contributes to the entire scene for the spectator. But, there are many more benefits which are not as obvious but which are very important to our health, to our environment and to the economy.
Lawns are estimated to occupy between 25,000,000 to 30,000,000 acres in the United States [the size of the 5 New England states] and as the population increases so too will the amount of turfgrass acreage. Aesthetic values of turf have been recognized since emperors in China [157-87 BC] maintained extensive mowed grass areas for beauty and enjoyment. Today most segments of the population of the United States enjoy lawns around their homes and in parks open to the public. In urban America, lawns contribute a measure of the countryside and its heritage providing a much needed linkage with nature and this benefits us by lessening stress.
Health of humans is enhanced by turfgrasses as they function in cushioning, cleaning air, generating oxygen and creating a serene landscape. Knowledge of the care of turfgrasses and other plants is therapeutic to humans and is used in rehabilitation programs for the ill, the elderly, the handicapped and the incarcerated. Quiet grassed areas affect people's moods, thus creating feelings of serenity, privacy thoughtfulness, happiness or sadness depending on our association with their use - home lawn, roadside rest area, city park, golf course or memorial park. Yearly cycles of nature produce changes in color of lawns which are among the first areas to green up in the spring bringing a lift to human spirits and linking urban inhabitants with a symbol of the countryside and its heritage. Junk is less likely to be thrown where there is a well maintained lawn.
Climate is controlled at ground level by turfgrasses as they cool temperatures appreciably, thus working as exterior "air conditioners." Dust and smoke particles from the atmosphere are trapped by turf which helps keep the air cleaner. Noise is absorbed by grass areas which cut down on excessive sound, a growing problem in urban areas. For example, grassed slopes beside lowered expressways reduce noise 8-10 decibels.
Pollutants, such as carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide, are absorbed by turfgrasses thereby rendering the air fit to breathe. Turfgrass thatch acts as a barrier deterring chemicals from entering the soil profile.
Oxygen generation by turfgrasses has a major impact in making our environment habitable. A 50'x 50' lawn produces enough oxygen for a family of four.Erosion of soil by water is effectively controlled by grasses as they intercept raindrops before they disturb the soil and slow flowing water so that it drops larger soil particles collected. Groundwater is enhanced in two ways by a dense turf. Turfgrasses increase infiltration of water and also clean the water as it passes so that underground water supplies are recharged for use by us all. Run-off of water and pollutants is greatly reduced by a highly maintained lawn. Dense turfgrass cleans the water helping to maintain a high quality environment.
Sports playing surfaces are made safer when grassed with sure footing and cushioning sod that adds to the quality of the play. Injuries in sports and games can be buffered by a soft, resilient turfgrass surface.Worldwide golf is a popular game played by millions of people as a means for exercise, relaxation and as an avenue for business transactions. In the United States there are more than 14 million golfers that enjoy highly groomed grass on golf courses. Volleyball, badminton, croquet, bocce and other games are enjoyed by young and old on grassed areas. No other surface material feels as good on bare feet or is as good for playing games and even turning somersaults.
Zones that are stabilized by turfgrasses enhance safety on roads and airfields by reducing run-off which can cause flooding, and diminishing soil erosion which muddies the surfaces, and absorbing dust which cuts back visibility. Traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian, is directed by lawn barriers in areas of heavy movement of people and on roadsides and medians.Fire retardation by buffer areas of well maintained lawngrass around buildings is good insurance.
Monetary value is associated with a well manicured lawn and this may amount to a 15% increase in the home selling price. Business and manufacturing complexes that have well maintained grass areas extend a favorable impression to the general public, as well as to employees and customers and the lawn increases the value of the property by up to 6%.
This overview of some of the many benefits of lawns and sports turf provides a tribute to the grass plant, truly a gift of nature. Although each plant is small, it contributes so much to our well-being.
---Dr. Eliot Roberts and Beverly Roberts 1989