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April is a month of renewal, a time when we begin to spend more time outdoors, and when lawn care season begins.  As part of National Lawn Care Month, millions of people observe the importance of lawns and their aesthetic, social and environmental benefits.

National Lawn Care Month Celebrates The Benefits Of Healthy Lawns

You may already know that well-maintained lawns and landscapes can increase your property’s value.  Landscaping, especially with trees, can increase property values as much as 20 percent. But did you know that a dense, healthy turf is also an environmental hero?

A Healthy Lawn Is Important To Our Environment

More than 30 million acres of lawns exist in the United States. It’s estimated that these lawns remove 5 percent of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as well as provide money-saving cooling effects in the summer months.

A healthy lawn is of utmost importance to our environment. And even more important is that grass is now said to aid our health and well-being.

Turf’s power to generate oxygen has a major impact on the environment. A well-maintained, 50-foot by 50-foot lawn produces enough oxygen for a family of four. Turf also provides pollution control by trapping dust and smoke particles from the atmosphere.

Grass is a natural air conditioner. Eight healthy front lawns have the cooling effect of 70 tons of air conditioning.  That is enough to cool 16 average homes!  Dense, healthy grass also slows down and filters runoff, removing contaminants and trapping soil. Fresh, filtered water then returns to the underground water supply.

In addition to its positive environmental impacts, a healthy lawn can also make a home more marketable. Studies also show that homes with updated landscaping sell up to six weeks faster than other homes. And in this tough housing market, a well-cared-for lawn could make or break a sale.

The Human Element

Landscape plantings, including lawn areas around the home and workplace, have been shown to affect people positively. A healthy, maintained lawn area creates an inviting view for those passing by and provides an aesthetically pleasing, natural backdrop for other landscape elements.

Uniformity of the lawn surface helps confer a sense of coherence and harmony to the entire landscape scene. It is this peaceful setting that is believed to contribute to a person’s feeling of well-being and a decrease in emotional tension. It has also been noted that patient recovery rate is faster where they have a view to a landscaped setting versus a view of adjacent buildings only.

The physical and social problems often associated with inner cities can, in part, be related to the absence of lawns and other ornamental landscape plantings. When areas are cleaned up and various landscape plantings reintroduced, there is a noted improvement in the physical environment. There is also an increase in neighborhood interaction thereby strengthening the various social relationships and overall community bonding.

Creating healthy and sustainable lawns and landscapes that provide these and many other human and environmental benefits does not happen by chance. It begins with carefully considered, well-planned landscape design.  Selecting the most appropriate plant material is important followed by a maintenance program that minimizes resource losses (e.g., nutrients, soil, water) from the ecosystem. In turn, these lawns and landscapes will require fewer outside inputs to sustain their health and remain environmentally functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Homeowners can be proactive in April by reviewing their lawn and doing the following:

Clear the lawn of leaves, downed branches, and other debris that have fallen during the winter.

Aerate the lawn if it seems compacted, if moss is growing, or the grass has worn down. Machines can be rented or a professional can provide the service.

Check the lawn’s pH balance. Grass likes a well pH-balanced lawn. Many lawn care contractors provide this service.

Homeowners can consult with a Minnesota Landscaping company to put together a lawn maintenance program to monitor your property for diseases, insects, or other problem that might arise that ensures their lawns will be healthy and beautiful throughout the year.

The healthier the lawn, the bigger the contribution to our environment and communities. Please share these facts…

Literature Cited: Beard, J.B., Green, R.L. 1994.The Role of Turfgrasses in Environmental Protection and Their Benefits to Humans. J. Environ. Qual. 23:3.
SULIS – Sustainable Urban Landscape Information Series: U of MN. www.sustland.umn.edu