Turfgrass is vilified, on occasion, because it is deemed to be a bit of a water hog. Some people, who know, have undertaken the drastic measure of removing their lawns entirely and replacing them with landscape fabric and rock. Of course, water isn’t the only thing they save when they rip up their turf. I’m sure that getting rid of the lawn mower might have a lot to do with it.
But while it’s true that the pursuit of the "perfect" lawn demands a fair bit of water, the newer grass varieties use much less water and are amazingly drought tolerant. They look pretty darn good even after fairly long bouts of dry weather.
Beyond mower and water concerns, grasses provide a surprisingly large number of benefits that we often don’t think about.
Here is a partial list:
- Tough to play catch on a marigold patch. Turf solves that problem like no other category of plants.
- Lawns are attractive and provide a nice "frame" for flowerbeds. Curving swaths of grass can be amazingly beautiful
- Grass roots hold soil in place drastically reducing soil movement into rivers, lakes and ponds. Soil is one of our most precious resources and it needs to stay put
- Well-managed lawns purify water almost equivalent to that of tap water
- A well-maintained lawn of 250 square metres provides sufficient oxygen for a family of four during the growing season.
Dust, mud and air pollution
- Mud and dust problems are reduced by grassed areas around homes, factories, schools and businesses
- Grass blades also absorb many different air pollutants
- Water evaporating from grass blades acts as nature’s air conditioner on hot days. On a hot day when sidewalk temperatures rise above 40°C, the surface of the grass remains around 24°C.
- Grass adds organic matter to the soil as roots, stems, and leaves breakdown. Soil "structure" is improved dramatically as grass roots penetrate soil and eventually breakdown.
Lawns certainly aren’t a substitute for a vegetable garden, fruiting shrubs and trees, nor ornamental beds. But given the many benefits of lawn grasses, I’d say that they deserve their place in the sun.