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Turf is a Good Guy
Science Proves That Environmentally Speaking, Buffalo Turf is Good.
By Todd Layt
Turf is a good guy. Especially Buffalo Turf, as it does well in full sun and shaded environments, making it more adaptable. You want scientific proof? Turf is one of the most environmental products in the world, a claim which is well proven by science. So the days of feeling guilty about your lawn are over. Recently, the Turf Producers Australia (TPA) commissioned a literature review, which uncovered a huge amount of proof that turf is good for the environment. This and other information provide the proof. This article is a summary of this research, so if you would like to see much of the evidence in raw form click here.
Just look at some of the following SCIENTIFIC FACTS.
Turf is very drought tolerant.
There is more published data on turf’s water usage rates and drought tolerance or drought avoidance than on any other group including garden trees and shrubs. This research proves how drought tolerant certain types of turf are. Importantly, it shows warm season turf is very drought tolerant, whilst cool season turf is not very drought tolerant. A study by the University of Western Sydney, showed that warm season turf, including Buffalo, has watering requirements about the same as native plants, and turf accounted for much less water than exotic gardens. A recent USA study in dry, hot Texas showed that warm season turf such as Buffalo turf can survive on no water in hot summers for 60 days and return to health within a month or two when the water is reinstated.
Fact 1. Choose the right turf and you will need to water it about the same as a native garden.
Turf can reduce carbon pollution.
Everyday, a 15 square meter lawn provides all the oxygen needed by one person to breath for the day. As well as being a great converter of carbon dioxide to oxygen, turf is much better than trees and shrubs at taking carbon from the air and locking it up in the soil. It's just common sense; turf has a much better, more fibrous root system, meaning more carbon being locked up. Add all the living organisms that live in the root zones and you have an amazing carbon trap. Research has shown that a hectare of turf can lock up to 3 tonnes of carbon per year for 30 years. That’s a lot of carbon.
Now some people think mowing creates a lot of carbon. If old 2 stroke mowers are used, this is certainly valid, but these days new commercial mowers and most new home lawn mowers are efficient 4 stroke or diesel mowers. The humble Honda Buffalo push mower is a perfect example, with its clean low emissions compared to the old type mowers. If efficient and modern low emission, large scale mowers are used, the amount of emissions per hectare can be significantly lower. If everyone switches to these more environmental mowers then the benefit to the environment will be significant.
Fact 2. Turf is better than trees and even rain forests at removing carbon from the atmosphere.
Turf is the best natural chemical filter
Turf is a natural form of pollution control and acts as a filter, leaving only pure water to recharge our fresh ground water supplies. Turf Grass is up to 10 times better at reducing nutrient, sediment and chemical pollution than many other crops, and 100’s if not 1000’s of times better than concrete. Turf is an excellent discharging avenue for grey water, and in general, Buffalo lawns work very well with grey water. This is probably due to there salt tolerance and ability to handle high nutrients.
Fact 3. There are a huge number of good bacteria and fungi in every lawn that can break down any organic pollutant.
Turf reduces heat
Larger areas of turf around a home or city can greatly add to cooling. A green lawn in summer is often 20° celsius cooler than asphalt, concrete or pebble mulch. A recent Australian study that I conducted on a 40° day showed a green sports field had an average temperature of 45.6°, whilst a nearby concrete tennis court had a surface temperature of 78°, a plastic grass tennis court had a temperature of 67°, and clay brick pavers had an average temperature of 73.7°. That means the concrete was 32.4 degrees hotter than the turf. Other research showed that an average front lawn has the cooling effect of 2½ air conditioners, without the extra carbon from emissions.
Fact 4. Grass provides a greater cooling effect than trees, and can achieve similar to an open pool or lake, but is 40% less wasteful in water evaporation.
Other benefits of Turf
Turf protects houses against bushfires and absorbs noise, making our cities a quieter place. As a noise filter grass and other ornamentals help absorb sound, potentially reducing noise pollution in some areas by 20 to 30 percent. Turf also reduces glare compared to hard surfaces. Turf is a natural breeding ground for certain animals and insects that are critical for maintaining a balanced ecosystem. Turf is a very low cost surface, one tenth the cost of concrete. For such a low cost investment, it is surprising that turf can increase property prices by so much, but research shows it does.
Turf is a great dust suppressor and preventative for erosion. Decades ago China lost interest with vegetation, resulting in huge dust clouds and massive pollution. Now china has changed, and is re-vegetating with passion. Our governments, due to water restrictions, are starting to fall into the same trap as 'old' China. How long until we have dust storms around cities due to the lack of live grass and plants?
Being close to turf improves the quality of life. Research has proven that residents of high rise housing with access to open green spaces enjoy better health. Turf sporting facilities are needed to keep people exercising. With obesity becoming worse in Australia, more recreational healthy turf areas are needed to allow for more park walks, more sport, and more activity. Water restrictions have affected some playing areas, which have meant cancellation of sport. Just what our society needs, less physical activity and a fatter population. Governments, wake up to yourselves.
Healthy turf makes healthy people. Recent research showed large quality turf areas actually increase the selling price of homes. The evidence in this article is only a small amount of the research available proving turf is a great environmental product, and a very efficient user of resources. No other natural landscape product has been tested to this extent, and has shown such wide reaching environmental and health benefits. Turf is clearly a good guy. Much of this research has been supplied by the Turf Producers Australia.
Choosing low maintenance environmental turf.
Cool season turf such as Fescue and Rye grass, although having many environmental benefits in climatic zones to where they are suited, simply are too water hungry to work in almost all parts of Australia. Melbourne has seen the greatest shift away from these varieties. In the past Melbourne used large amounts of water to keep these cool season lawns alive. The drought has basically put an end to this. Buffalo lawn grasses on the other hand are proving to be saviours for places like Melbourne and Canberra, surviving well on only natural rainfall. All up and down the east coast of Australia, in places like Sydney and Brisbane, Buffalo lawns are surviving with no irrigation. Under drought they may brown off, but when it rains again they come back. It is naturally better to water them just as the leaves start to wilt so they stay green all the time. This often means only say 5 or 6 heavy waters over summer. In inland areas or summer dry places like Perth, Buffalo will need more summer irrigation to survive, but still far less than water hungry lawns like Fescue and Rye grass.
Choosing the right lawn can save on maintenance and help the environment. Provided you choose a warm season grass like Buffalo, you will be choosing one of the most environmental products available to man, so rejoice in a large area of lawn and feel happy about your new natural turf. I leave you with this thought; what would you rather walk on with bare feet; concrete, a tennis court of plastic grass, or a beautiful soft green natural lawn that feels wonderful between your toes?