Water conservation and healthy environments are dependant upon the ability of individuals to make wise choices concerning their landscapes. Unfortunately, a great deal of misinformation is making the rounds, and consumers are left feeling confused. They are being led to make decisions that will have a detrimental impact on our environment in the future. It is important to understand the facts - the most important of which is that plants don't waste water - people do.
Scientific research has documented the many benefits of turfgrass to our environment. Our turfgrass lawns, parks and open areas provide a natural, comfortable, and safe setting for fun and recreation. Turfgrass releases oxygen and cools the air while controlling pollution and reducing soil erosion. In addition, turf purifies and replenishes our water supply.
Contrary to what many believe, scientific research has shown that when properly cared for, grass doesn't consume the tremendous amounts of water that many believe it does. While grass has been scientifically researched for many years, many of the other plants in the landscape have never been studied. We know how much water grass uses in various conditions. That cannot be said, with any scientific certainty, about most of the other plants in the urban landscape.
On a hot summer day, lawns will be 30 degrees cooler than asphalt and 14 degrees cooler than bare soil. The front lawns of eight houses have the cooling effect of about 70 tons of air conditioning. The cooling effect of irrigated turf reduces the amount of fuel that must be burned to provide the electricity that powers the air conditioners.
Turfgrass also traps and removes dust and dirt from the air. In fact, 2,500 square feet of lawn absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and releases enough oxygen for a family of four to breathe.
For many years people have wasted water on their lawns. It is very important for people to learn about proper ground preparation, proper watering techniques and the documented facts concerning plant water usage. This is not something that should be taken lightly. Just because someone says a plant is "xeric", which is so popular now, it doesn't necessarily translate into being a good plant selection. Almost all plants will use as much water as they are given - it's up to us to learn how to apply it effectively.
The Rocky Mountain Sod Growers Association has been working to educate consumers concerning the importance of watering wisely for many years - long before water conservation was making the headlines. We continue to urge people to learn the facts when making landscaping decisions. Remember, plants don't waste water - people do.
For more information on water conservation and turf visit our website at www.rockymountainsodgrowers.com
-Kelly Thornton, president, Rocky Mountain Sod Growers Association and Don Schlup, executive director, Rocky Mountain Sod Growers Association