Natural grass is truly ‘green’

March 23, 2009  - By

By: Bob O’Quinn

The importance of natural grass is documented as far back as the 18th century in Jonathan Swift’s treatise, which began with “The value of growing grass is an essential service to a country.” Scientific studies have since confirmed that it’s far more than just the green color of grass that has proven to significantly decrease patients’ physical and emotional healing times. Its oxygen-generating, cooling and filtering capabilities are an extremely important part of its natural environmental cycle when properly maintained. Consider also natural grass’ carbon negative footprint—it is truly “green” because it sequesters (retains) more carbon than is required to grow and maintain it.

Maintenance is a major issue in the decision whether to install natural grass or artificial turf. It requires serious consideration of all related science-based information. Although extreme frequency-of-use of a sports field’s playing surface sometimes justifies an alternative to natural turfgrass, it should not be an automatic first choice. Unfortunately, the decision to go with a synthetic ground covering is often based on past experience with poorly maintained natural grass fields that became sparse, muddy or otherwise unsightly.

Although turfgrass has perennial sustainability and rejuvenation capability when properly maintained, a heavily used field will sustain damage. However, replacement thick-cut turfgrass sod can be installed the same day and played on the next day at minimal costs — for between $0.50 to $1.25 per square foot for an NFL field or a local high school, depending on the thickness of cut and shipping costs.

The best advice when choosing a sports field surface: Weigh everything carefully with facts. Then contact several professional turfgrass producers in your area to find out what they recommend regarding:

  • Type of grass
  • Installation costs
  • Proper care and maintenance costs and methods
  • Per-square-foot cost of replacing hash marks and any other damaged areas
  • One-day down time for repair from local sod farm
  • Expected longevity, replacement and disposal (if any) costs

We’ll discuss more of the economic, environmental and health benefits of natural grass playing surfaces in our next column. Meanwhile, please visit www.turfgrasssod.org for additional information about turfgrass sports fields.

AT Staff

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