“The environmental benefits of turfgrass are numerous, yet often overlooked by the media,” states Dr. James Beard, professor emeritus at Texas A&M University and author of the newly released book “Turfgrass History and Literature – Lawns, Sports and Golf.”
Joni Mitchell’s lyrics to “Big Yellow Taxi” from the early 70s, “ … you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone, they paved paradise, and put up a parking lot,” still rings true today, especially when it comes to natural turfgrass and lawns. The average person is unaware of all that natural turfgrass has to offer or how their lawn enriches their lives, their community and the world we live in.
The environmental benefits Beard is referring to are indeed considerable and include preventing soil erosion, reducing stormwater runoff, water infiltration, soil restoration, sequestering carbon to producing oxygen and cooling the atmosphere. That is a partial list of the considerable benefits of which many people are unaware or take for granted.
The U.S. National Arboretum opened a “Grass Roots” exhibit on Oct. 16 as a part of its Grass Roots Initiative to provide a science-based focus on turfgrass. The exhibit exposes the history, uses, benefits and value of natural turfgrass. The opening of the exhibit will be followed by a “grand opening weekend” from 12-4 p.m. Oct. 17-18 with family-friendly activities and putting on the green, according the the Grass Root Initiative Facebook page.
The “Grass Roots” exhibit is located on the Arboretum’s 446-acre U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) public gardens facility two miles from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., and is open year-round. It will provide a four-year focus on turfgrass that includes outdoor turfgrass exhibits, educational programs, demonstrations, plant exhibits, comparisons of various species of warm and cool season grasses, the history of lawns, rain gardens, irrigation, and a display of how perennial ryegrass is grown in seed production.
At a time when environmental issues such as global warming, greenhouse gases and misleading information about pesticides, fertilizers or natural turfgrass are grabbing headlines, a science-based exhibit is timely.
The Arboretum, USDA-ARS and sponsors through the National Turfgrass Federation to be commended for their support include Agrium Advanced Technologies, the Irrigation Association, The Fertilizer Institute, Koch Agronomic Services, TruGreen, the USGA, Dow AgroSciences, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA), the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA), Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, Project Evergreen, PLANET, Turfgrass Producers International’s The Lawn Institute and more.
More than 500,000 visit the Arboretum annually, most of whom are not aware of the importance of the turf industry to society and the environment.
To view a brochure on the Grass Root Initiative, click here.