- Your lawn actually contributes to a range of environmental and health benefits
- A healthy backyard lawn is a big contributor to ongoing efforts to clean-up Australia
Australia has one of the best natural landscapes in the world. From our pristine beaches to ancient forests and flourishing sea life, we have some of the most unique flora and fauna in the world. But the rubbish we continue to create is often seen choking our streets, beaches, parks, bushland and waterways. You may have joined in and helped with the problem last weekend with Clean Up Australia Day. . . . go to www.cleanup.org.au for further information. And keep up the good fight after the flurry of the weekend by keeping your eye on the rubbish in your area. As our parklands become more scarce in our expanding urbanised cities, it’s important to keep our remaining greenspace areas clean and healthy. Talk to your council about getting involved in ‘Adopt-a-Park’ or other programs and check our blog next week when we look into this more with Parks Week coming up soon. Like much of the pollution issues that pervade our every-day, simple steps at home can often help with the wider impacts on our environment. Take on board some of the following tips on how you can lessen your environmental and pollution footprint – starting with your front and back yards.
- Cleans the air: Turfgrass is in fact one of the best filters for helping to clean the environment as it takes up microscopic pollutants, pollens and other particles and traps these in the thatch area of your turf where the microbes and other organisms turn them into inert material.
- Healthy turf – healthy people: Healthy turfgrass like a backyard lawn offers a safe place for play and also helps to dampen noise, reduce glare, prevent erosion and also reduce storm water runoff. This safe-haven effect is important with many studies linking closeness to greenspace and improved health and wellbeing.
- Low inputs – low outputs: If you can keep your lawn healthy with a good balance of fertiliser and use herbicides and pesticides only when necessary, you’ll help to make your environment cleaner with less water-shed runoff with less contaminants in heavy rainfall.
- Keeping your cool: When it comes to other environmental benefits, your back yard is a big contributor on the right side of the ledger. Low-level-irrigated turf can cool a backyard by up as much as 10 – 40 degrees Celsius or more compared to other surfaces and help offset the heat island effect becoming more common in our cities.
- Lowering your footprint: Lawn areas are also important to mitigate against climate change as turf captures and stores carbon, known as carbon sequestration. Turfgrass absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2) as an input for photosynthesis which reduces carbon in the atmosphere and releases oxygen.
Appropriately maintained turfgrass can sequester carbon at a rate that makes it a net carbon sink, in that it can capture, convert and store more carbon in the soil than is produced to maintain it (i.e. mow, irrigate and fertilise). In fact, recent studies from the United States suggest that turf can sequester an average of 1.2 tonne of carbon per hectare, per year for as much as 30 to 40 years. Some studies suggest this figure might be substantially higher, depending on the climate and maintenance.
- Other greener options: Other simple things can help make your lawn greener by being greener. Look into a reuse-water-system or rainwater tank and irrigate your lawn and garden from these sources. Mulch your lawn clippings and look at a compost area for your food and other green-waste scraps. The compost is great for your garden or as an organic topdressing mix when mixed with some river sand.
So when it comes to jumping into your lawn maintenance this weekend, tackle it with some renewed confidence that by keeping a healthy lawn that you’re actually doing your bit to help the environment and keeping Australia beautiful!