What’s the big deal with having a healthy lawn and yard? After all, a lawn is just some grass growing outside your home, right?
Maybe. But maybe it’s also much more than that, and perhaps living in a home with a healthy lawn is more akin to having a bonus addition to our health plan, a place to put our fitness intentions into action, a local environmental improvement program, a hazard and risk reduction service, and a mental health tool.
How does a healthy lawn do all of that? If you’ve always just thought of the lawn and yard as not much more than a time- and money-sucking space at your home, and maybe a place to have a barbecue or throw a frisbee on the weekends, read on, because the simple truth is that a healthy yard and lawn can enrich our lives, whether we can really see it for ourselves or not.
Here are 12 ways that having a healthy lawn and yard can benefit us:
- A healthy green lawn creates a safe place for family fun & fitness: Having a place to kick a ball, have a picnic, do somersaults, play a game of tag, or just kick your shoes off and feel the grass between your toes can help your home feel bigger, because you’ve got a place outside that acts as an extension of your living space.
- A healthy lawn and yard can act as an oasis for relaxation: For those who spend a lot of time indoors during the work day, or who have a fast-paced and stress-filled schedule, being able to lay in a hammock, kick back in a lawn chair, or indulge in some active relaxation with the kids and the dog right outside our homes can be a great way to bring balance into our lives (watch out for surprise packages from the dog, though).
- A green space around the home can reduce stress and increase our sense of well-being: Studies have shown that having regular access to green spaces, whether it’s a forest or a well-kept yard, can increase our productivity, lower stress levels, and generally improve our moods. A well-kept yard can also act as a bit of a crime deterrent as well, by reducing the risk of vandalism and theft, and by creating a green barrier between our home and the street.
- A healthy yard and lawn can help to reduce dust, pollen, and pollution around our homes: Grass and landscaping plants help trap airborne particles, ranging from the just bothersome to the potentially harmful, and to then help mitigate them by harboring beneficial organisms that can break these pollutants down and render them less harmful to us.
- A healthy lawn reduces erosion rates: Whether it’s because of the effects of the wind or the rain or runoff from snowmelt, erosion can be a big issue in some regions, and having healthy turf will help hold the soil in place, while also providing habitat for the multitude of beneficial organisms that enable strong root systems for grass, garden plants, and trees and shrubs.
- A yard full of healthy plants and turf produces oxygen: Plants take in carbon dioxide (among other things) and release oxygen, which helps create a healthy environment for people and animals alike. A home surrounded by a healthy yard can be an invigorating and nourishing environment, whether you’re 8 years old or 80 years old.
- Grass, landscape plants, and trees and shrubs help capture and sequester carbon: In a time when we’re starting to really realize the importance of curbing our carbon emissions, healthy yards and lawns can be a great asset. Plants trap and store carbon in the soil, thanks to their natural ‘breathing’ process that takes in carbon dioxide, and act as an important carbon sequestration pathway.
- A healthy lawn and yard can cut home cooling costs: Through the process of evaporation, lawns can help to reduce the effect of the sun’s heat, and temperatures over a healthy lawn can be significantly cooler than over cement or asphalt, and can act as a buffer against high temperatures, which translates to reduced cooling costs. A green lawn also reduces the reflectivity of the sun’s rays, which can often bounce off asphalt and concrete onto our homes. Planting shade trees can be another effective method of keeping the direct sun off of walls, windows, and roofs, which decreases the load on a home’s cooling system.
- Green grass and healthy landscapes can decrease the risk of fires: By acting as both a physical fire break and as a more humid barrier to encroaching fires, a healthy lawn and yard can reduce the risk exposure of homes. The wetter environment of healthy turf, coupled with the lack of easily flammable fuel (such as dried weeds), can offer some protection from the danger of fires.
- A yard full of healthy plants and grass can improve the quality of groundwater: By absorbing rainwater and runoff, and acting as a biological water filter, turf and landscape plants can serve as an important part of the water cycle, and can help groundwater sources get recharged with clean water. These are some of the things I learnt by reading the best water softener reviews one afternoon, I learned that; healthy grass, gardens, and landscaping can also help slow the rate of runoff from rain, which reduces the amount of stormwater that local wastewater systems have to deal with.
- Lawns and healthy yards can reduce noise pollution: By absorbing noise instead of reflecting it or amplifying it, lawns and yards can act to reduce the effects of noise pollution, which can be a big issue in some neighborhoods. This noise-reducing quality of grass and landscaping plants can improve the quality of life and increase the desirability of the home.
- A healthy and vigorous landscape can increase a home’s property value: By adding to the beauty of a home, as well as providing some or all of the above benefits, a healthy lawn and yard can add value to a home’s resale value. It can also make for good neighbors, as many times, our yards are well within view of others’ homes, and a neglected yard can be an eyesore for the entire neighborhood.
Of course, all of these great benefits provided to us by a healthy lawn and yard don’t come without a little (or a lot) of work, but it isn’t necessary to put in full-time hours on our landscaping to achieve a green oasis around our home. There are plenty of great resources out there for learning about how to best keep your grass and yard green and healthy without requiring a significant amount time and money, and with a little planning and research, it’s possible to be the proud owner of a great green lawn that doesn’t act as a time-suck in our already busy lives.
In many situations (certainly not all), dad tends to be the one to take on the lawn and yard chores, so hiring a professional lawn service such as TruGreen might be a great idea for a Fathers Day gift for him, which can help free up some time and energy for family activities, while also beautifying the home and neighborhood.
[Image: Jesse Millan]