Reprinted from the Journal of Environmental Quality
Vol. 23, no. 3, May-June 1994, Copyright , ã 1994, ASA, CSSA, SSSA
677 South Segoe Road, Madison, WI 53711 USA
The Role of Turfgrasses in Environmental Protection and Their Benefits to Humans
By Drs. James B. Beard* and Robert L. Green
Turfgrasses have been utilized 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. Turfgrass benefits may be divided into (i) functional, (ii) recreational, and (iii) aesthetic components. Specific functional benefits include: excellent soil erosion control and dust stabilization thereby protecting a vital soil resource; improved recharge and quality protection of groundwater, plus flood control; enhanced entrapment and biodegradation of synthetic organic compounds; soil improvement that includes CO2 conversion; accelerated restoration of disturbed soils; substantial urban beat dissipation-temperature moderation; reduced noise, glare, and visual pollution problems; decreased noxious pests and allergy-related pollens; safety in vehicle operation on roadsides and engine longevity on airfields; lowered fire hazard via open, green turfed firebreaks; and improved security of sensitive installations provided by high visibility zones. The recreational benefits include a low-cost surface for outdoor sport and leisure activities enhanced physical health of participants, and a unique lowcost cushion against personal impact injuries. The aesthetic benefits include enhanced beauty and attractiveness; a complimentary relationship to the total landscape ecosystem of flowers, shrubs and trees; improved mental health with a positive therapeutic impact, social harmony and stability; improved work productivity; and an overall better quality-of-life, especially in densely populated urban areas.