The Benefits of Lawns
Date Posted: 17 March 2021
Would you substitute some of your lawn for a vegetable patch? It’s an interesting question and one that has become more relevant in recent times when self sufficiency is an aspiration more and more people are reaching for.
I read an article this week posted on the University of Adelaide newsroom page. In the article, researches set out to model whether Adelaide residents could grow enough vegetables in the grounds around their homes to become self sufficient. They proposed that households could achieve this by giving up less than a quarter of their domestic lawn and then substituting that area for a vegetable garden. In researching properties across 3 sites representative of Adelaide's geographical spread, they found that in 93% of cases, properties had enough land to make this possible. It's a compelling read, raising some important questions for both now and into the future. It's well worth considering too - while reading the article I found myself energised by the idea and then pondering how I could make it work at my home. The potential to organically grow veggies is appealing in its own right!
While I realise that the research suggested you only need to remove a small portion of your lawn to make room for a veggie patch, I thought I was a good opportunity to remind you of some of the benefits of lawn ;)
Have you ever thought about the value of a lawn? You might think that the purpose of a lawn is just to make landscapes more practical and usable or to make them look good and this is true but as you'll discover, lawns contribute much more than that.
"As a society we tend to take the benefits of grass for granted," says James B Beard Ph.D., one of the worlds leading turf experts and the chief scientist at the International Sports Turf Institute.
Aesthetically, lawns enhance the quality of life, contribute to social harmony and community pride, increase property values and compliment other landscape plants.
Lawns provide a soft landing for kids at play, a blanket for families to picnic and a cushion for bare feet to roam. The same important benefits stretch worldwide.
Beard notes, “Turf grasses have been utilised by humans to enhance their environment for more than 10 centuries. The complexity and comprehensiveness of these environmental benefits that improve our quality-of-life are just now being quantitatively documented through research.”
The scientific evidence clearly shows that a healthy lawn is good for the environment. "Because it's around us every day, people don't think about the fact that a healthy turf generates oxygen for improved air quality,” says Beard.
“Most homeowners don't realise noise and air pollution are reduced in most suburban areas because the grass ecosystem serves as a natural filter for the environment.”
Here are just a few of the many additional environmental benefits Beard and other scientists report. (courtesy of the lawninstitute.org)
- Lawns provide excellent soil erosion control.
- They improve recharge and quality protection of groundwater and provide flood control.
- They enhance entrapment and biodegradation of synthetic organic compounds.
- They absorb and sequester carbon dioxide gases.
- They bring substantial urban heat dissipation which results in a significant cooling effect around the home
- Lawns contribute to home security as well, providing high visibility zones that deter potential intruders and open green spaces that serve as a firebreak to reduce fire hazards.
- Clippings contain nutrients useable to the grass, when left on the lawn.
- A 15m x 15m lawn releases enough oxygen for a family of four, while absorbing carbon dioxide, ozone, hydrogen fluoride, and peroxyacetyl nitrate.
- Lawn absorbs noise and reduces glare.
For these reasons, and so many more…lawns are an important part of our urban landscape. Would you give up some of your lawn for a veggie patch? Ultimately that's a question for you to ponder on as you consider your unique needs and circumstances.