Ask not what you can do for your lawn. Ask what your lawn can do for you.
Okay, it’s a pretty cheesey paraphrase of JFK’s iconic speech, but it makes a good point. There’s more to your lawn than meets the eye. There is a lot it is quietly accomplishing that you may never think about or give it credit for.
It’s cool to be green. Lawn grass is one of nature’s most effective miniature air-conditioners. On a block of eight houses with average lawns, the lawn grass has a cooling effect of 70 tons of air-conditioning. Plants cool themselves by transpiring water. When they do that they cool the area around them. Roughly 50 percent of the heat striking a turf area is eliminated by transpiration. For example, when the temperature of a sidewalk is 100o, the temperature of nearby lawn grass is around 75º.
Shhhhhhhhh! Turfgrass working. Your lawn’s grass also functions as a noise barrier. Studies at the Riverbank Acoustical Laboratory in Geneva, Illinois, found Kentucky bluegrass turf is more sound-absorbent than a heavy carpet on a felt pad.
Take a deep breath of fresh air. It’s not just a pretty patch of green. One of the most important roles your lawn plays has a significant impact on the very air you breathe. A 250-square-foot lawn produces enough oxygen for a family of four. It also helps by trapping large amounts of carbon dioxide, peroxyacetyl nitrates and ozone, as well as particulate matter.
Roots. The story of how a single lawn stopped soil erosion. Your lawn is one of the most effective deterrents to soil erosion, while giving groundwater time to soak into the soil, not down the nearest storm drain. Research shows infiltration (water seepage) is much higher on turfed areas than on areas of bare soil. Not only does your lawn encourage water to make it into the groundwater stream, it binds the soil quite effectively, preventing soil loss.
How do you know if your lawn is right for you? Now that you know how important your lawn is, how do you decide what lawn grass is best for your lifestyle, your preferences, and your pocketbook? Choosing the best grass involves personal judgment based on your needs and the conditions of your property. Each variety of grass has its advantages and disadvantages. Some grow in partial shade; others need full sun. Some grow in all parts of the state; some grow only in certain areas. Some require lots of time and patience; others are less troublesome. Some are fast growers, and some are slow growers. For help choosing the perfect turfgrass for your lawn, visit your local lawn and garden center or contact the Mississippi State University Extension Service, www.msucares.com.