The United States is becoming a much greener place, as turfgrass pops up around the country as a staple of houses and parks everywhere. Its growing ubiquity, although widely considered to be a good thing, comes with a host of environmental considerations.
There are some 80 million home lawns across the country, according a study by Ohio State University. Half of those lawns are maintained by a mow-only practice, which means they do not get treated with fertilizers, irrigation or pesticides, the lowest level of care.
Among conservationists, lawn care matters because certain techniques can cancel out some of greenery's environmental benefits. Among other things, turfgrass helps captures carbon and other pollutants.
For lawns that receive low-level care, the average carbon sequestration rate is lower than those maintained by "lawn care service or apply fertilizer multiple times a year," the industry's idea of best management practices, the Ohio State study found.
A separate study by environmental and energy consultant Ranajit Sahu found that, "for the average, managed lawn," turfgrass captures "significant amounts of carbon" than what a "typical lawnmower" produces. Unlike Ohio State's study, which centered mainly on lawns without much external treatment, Sahu looked at lawns that included watering and fertilizer as part of their maintenance.