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Environmental/social benefits of residential lawns and landscaping

Green has "green value". People are drawn to the lush, cooling, refreshing plants and residents of healthy landscaping. And we value it enough to pay more for a home or campus with good green space. Here are some facts to consider as you develop your own green space.

  • A healthy 10,000-sq. ft. lawn (about the size of an average suburban lot) can absorb more than 6,000 gallons of rainwater without noticeable runoff. [REF 1] NOTE: Without careful planning, this grassy lawn can also require a lot of later during dry periods -- careful choice of groundcover helps conserve water during droughts and dry seasons, too.
  • It is estimated that grass areas trap 12 million tons of dust and dirt from the air annually. For example, one acre of grass can absorb hundreds of pounds of fossil fuel-created sulfur dioxide in a single year. [REF 1] NOTE: another beneift of planting bare dirt with smart ground cover is that it prevents erosion of the skin-thin layer of topsoil that is crucial to supporting life on the surface of the earth.
  • A well-maintained lawn and landscape keeps your home cooler on hot days, reducing temperatures by 30 to 40 degrees compared with bare soil, and 50 to 70 degrees cooler than streets and driveways. [REF 1] NOTE: And a nice mixture of native shrubs, wildflowers and native trees can provide the best balance of cooling shade and balanced use of precious water supplies.
  • Grass and other plant materials are a source of the oxygen we breathe. Through the process of photosynthesis, green plants convert carbon dioxide and other gases into oxygen. Your landscape is one of the best oxygen producers we have, with a 50- ft. area producing enough oxygen for a family of four. Furthermore, it is estimated that the grass and trees along the U.S. interstate highway system release enough oxygen to support 22 million people annually. [REF 1] NOTE: Some plants process air more productively than others. This balancing act provides an intriguing subject to study!
  • A healthy, vigorous green space with balanced plant density provides the following benefits:
    • Produces, with every 25 square feet, enough oxygen for one person for one day
    • Provides significant cooling
    • Reduces noise by absorbing, deflecting, reflecting, and refracting sounds
    • Traps and thereby helps control dust and pollen in the air that can cause allergic reactions
    • Reduces discomforting glare and light reflection
    • Absorbs gaseous pollutants (such as carbon dioxide) from vehicles, thus serving to combat the greenhouse effect implicated in global warming
  • Research has shown the infiltration rate on dense, sodded slopes is about 7.6 inches per hour. On slopes with less cover, the water penetrates at about 2.4 inches per hour. [REF 2] Strong, deep roots make a significant difference!
  • A Gallup Organization poll indicated that new home buyers and buyers of previously owned homes believe that landscaping adds nearly 15 percent on average to a home's value or selling price. Real estate appraisers, however, rate the value of residential-property landscaping at 7.28 percent and commercial-property landscaping at 6 percent. [REF 29]
  • By creating and properly caring for a quality lawn area, a homeowner can possibly realize a 10% to 15% increase in property value from a well-maintained lawn and landscape. [REF 1]
  • A study by Clemson University and the University of Michigan found that consumers value a landscaped home up to 11.3% higher than its base price. A Quebec survey found that hedges raised property values by 3.6%, a landscaped curb by 4.4%, and a landscaped patio by 12.4%. [REF 3]
  • A 1999 Gallup Survey asked U.S. homeowners to identify the most important benefits of a residential or commercial property having a well-maintained lawn and landscape. They ranked the benefits as follows:
    • Beauty and relaxation for family, employees, or visitors - 54.0%
    • Reflects positively on its owner - 53.2%
    • Comfortable place to entertain, work, or visit - 47.4%
    • Increased real estate value - 44.1%
    • Helps beautify the neighborhood - 43.3%
    • Provides a safe, high-quality play area for children – 36.7%
    • Provides an exercise area for pets - 21.3% [REF 3]
  • Gardening and yard work contribute to healthy, active living both physically and emotionally. Horticulture therapists have discovered that gardening provides a form of emotional expression and release, and it helps people connect with others.
  • In a University of Arkansas study of more than 3,000 women aged 50 and older, those who garden have higher bone density than women of a comparable age who jog, swim, walk, or do aerobics. Gardening helps build bones through muscle-building exercise, which helps support bones and weight lifting, which helps improve bone density. Also, exposure to sunlight means the body gets more vitamin D, which is essential to bone health. [REF 6]
  • According to a study in Japan, access to green space and a positive attitude toward one's community added 5 years to the life span of senior citizens. [REF 7]

[1] The Lawn Institute, 1855-A Hicks Road, Rolling Meadows, IL 60008.

[2] Mugaas, Robert J., Hennepin County Extension horticulturist, University of Minnesota; Agnew, Michael L., Extension horticulturist turf; & Christians, Nick E., professor or horticulture, Iowa State University. Turfgrass Management for Protecting Surface Water Quality (Turfgrass Management Series). BU-5726-GO. Reviewed 1997. College of Agricultural Food and Environmental Sciences.

[3] National Gardening Association, 1998- 1999. National Gardening Survey.

[4] The Value of Landscaping, 1986. Nursery Products Division, Weyerhaeuser Company. td

[5] Smart Money Magazine, March 2003. [28] National Gardening Association, 1998- 1999. National Gardening Survey.

[6] National Gardening Association, 1998- 1999. National Gardening Survey.

[6] Home and Family, Nurtured by Nature, by Bev Vennett. Cs

[7] Takano T., Nakamura K., Watanabe M. Heath Promotion/International Health, Division of Public Heath, Graduate School of Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo, Japan. Takano,

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For more articles about NATIVE GARDENING

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Water Gardening is the New Frontier
Rocky Sloped for Habitat
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Butterflies are Flowers of the Air