Garden and Yard Care Lawn care contributes to climate change

Published on January 21st, 2010 | by Jennifer Lance

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Urban Lawns Contribute to Climate Change

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There’s a movement to green urban spaces.  From seed bombs to guerrilla gardening, vigilantes are taking the green movement to a new level changing the concrete jungle landscape.  In fact, studies have proven that inner city children that grow up in green neighborhoods are healthier, but do green lawns really benefit our health and planet?  Not according to a University of California at Irvine study that found ornamental lawns do not sequester enough carbon to offset their care. 

Photo by heipei
Lawn care contributes to climate change

Lawn care contributes to climate change

Lawns are often cited negatively for their excess water needs, use of chemical fertilizers, and greenhouse gas emitting mowers; however, there has been an assumption that they are good for the environment due to carbon dioxide absorption during photosynthesis.  Science Daily explains:

Turfgrass lawns help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and store it as organic carbon in soil, making them important “carbon sinks.” However, greenhouse gas emissions from fertilizer production, mowing, leaf blowing and other lawn management practices are four times greater than the amount of carbon stored by ornamental grass in parks, a UC Irvine study shows.

The study focused on Southern California, but the results do have an impact on the 1.9 percent of land in the US that is covered by manicured grass.  Lead author of the study Amy Townsend-Small states, “It’s impossible for these lawns to be net greenhouse gas sinks because too much fuel is used to maintain them.”  This is the first study to compare “carbon sequestration to nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide emissions from lawn grooming practices”.

The results of this study are not really surprising.  Abandoning green urban spaces is not the solution, but greening their maintenance would change the results of this study.  If organic fertilizers and electric or manual tools were used, lawns and parks may become the carbon sinks cities desperately need.





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About the Author

Jennifer lives on 160 acres off-the-grid in a home built with her own two hands (and several more skilled pairs of hands) from forest fire salvaged timber. Her home is powered by a micro-hydro turbine, and she has been a vegetarian for 21 years. Jennifer graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in art education and has been teaching art to children for over 16 years. She also spent five years teaching in a one-room schoolhouse before becoming the mother of two beautiful children. Jennifer has a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education and is currently teaching preschool, as well as k-8 art. She enjoys writing, gardening, hiking, practicing yoga, and raising four akitas. Jennifer is the founder and editor of Eco Child's Play (http://ecochildsplay.com) "I’ve always been concerned about the earth and our impact upon it. Now that I have children, I feel compelled to raise them with green values. From organic gardening to alternative energy, my family tries to leave a small carbon footprint." Please visit my other blog: http://reallynatural.com



6 Responses to Urban Lawns Contribute to Climate Change

  1. filter bag says:

    I agree with your view .We should try our best to make more “green”.

  2. There has been a trend around the Vancouver area that has seen the replacement of lawns with low maintenance shrubs, some with edible fruits. These front yards look so much better than spreads of plain grass and hopefully will some day be the standard in home landscaping.

  3. Kasey says:

    Can I use this information on on my essay? It’s about climate change. I will properly cite you.

  4. Pingback: Permaculture: a new Christmas tradition for my family - Green Living Ideas

  5. Pingback: Permaculture: a new Christmas tradition for my family | GreeYn.com | ...YOU Make the Difference!

  6. Pingback: Permaculture: a new Christmas tradition for my family : Education Blog

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