Grass helps the planet with its existence

Sarah Rusali

Staff Writer

 

The planet is dying. Since the beginning of time, humans have progressed and created throughout the world. Although, this change does bring along its own baggage of side effects. One of them is the constant pollution and toxic waste we put out into the climate. 

 

In the last 650,000 years, there has been a major glacial retreat. According to NASA, there is a 95% probability that climate change is due to human activity. 

 

The WMO (World Meteorological Organization) created a research paper released in 2018. In it, it said that the 20 warmest years in history have occurred in the last 22 years.

 

As the world continues to decline into rapid deaccession, we are left to ask: what can we do to change that? The Earth is constantly transforming and with recent news of climate change and an increase in pollution to the world, many are left to fear for the future of the planet.

 

This is where grass comes into play. Grass comes with natural abilities to help prevent or slow down climate change. It may not seem like a key player, but it could very well become one.

 

Photo by Nick Bondarev from Pexels

How many species of grass have you encountered in your lifetime? Think about it; one, two, maybe three? It’s surprising but there are actually over 10,000 types of grass in the world. You’ve most likely come across hundreds in the span of one year and never knew it. 

 

Grass affects so many things in your life from the air you breathe to the ground you walk on. You may not know it yet, but grass plays an important role in everyone’s lives.

 

Grass’ scientific name is Poaceae or Gramineae and it is a large and ubiquitous family of flowering plants which are also classified as monocotyledonous.

 

Most likely, when you picture grass you see the typical short, green, lawn grass you remember from middle school when you had P.E. 

 

Although, there are so many kinds of grass. Did you know, palm trees are just considered tall grass? It is because of their biological makeup: grass is classified as monocots. Monocotyledon has fibrous stems and one seed; because of this, palm trees are part of the lower classification of monocots along with multiple types of grass.

 

Not only that, but grass is one of the oldest living organisms discovered in the world. We have been using grass forever; a long time ago, and in some places today, humans used them as material for the house. We would use certain grasses as roofs and some grasses with the correct fibers are used to make paper.

 

Photo by Marta Dzedyshko from Pexels

You can even drink grass. Alcoholic beverages are often used with the help of certain grasses: barley, rye, and wheat make whiskey while rice makes sake. 

 

You might have thought that grass lives all year long but different types of grass actually thrive in different seasons.

For example, warm-season grass includes Bermudagrass, Centipede grass, St. Augustine grass, and Zoysia grass.

 

In the warm-season, these grasses are the ones that thrive and continue to spread. The Bermudagrass is dark green with a strong root system riddled with rhizomes and stolons that go over and under the ground. The outcome is a sturdy and dense lawn. 

 

Then, in cold-season grasses include the Fine fescue grass, Kentucky bluegrass, Perennial ryegrass, and the Tall fescue.

 

In the cold season, the Kentucky bluegrass is one of the most popular kinds of grasses to grow. Sod farms in the north

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grow a lot of it because it is very reliable and produces nice and healthy lawns. They create V-shaped leaves that are adaptable to the constant foot traffic. It grows exceedingly fast because of its root system. It is also known as a self-repairing plant because it is fast to overgrow in areas where it is damaged. Not only that, but it can thrive in sun and partial shade.

 

Other than having grass as an aesthetic, it also helps the climate immensely. Lawns that are covered in grass or places like hillsides and prairies can help to prevent erosion with their roots by keeping soil in place.

 

A good lawn creates almost 300 miles of roots that hold the soil. Then, the grass blades are able to prevent erosion from wind and rain.

 

They also are helpful in reducing runoff of polluted water, containing dirt and chemicals, into roadways and streams. Lawn grasses contribute to controlling the runoff and can absorb about six times the amount of water compared to actual erosion-controlling crops like wheat.

 

On top of that, they also improve the air quality by creating oxygen and further trapping dust and other chemicals in the air.

 

Photo by KEHN HERMANO from Pexels

Just 25 square feet of grass can create enough oxygen every day for one adult.

 

Annually, lawns can take in 5% of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and other chemicals. This supports the reduction of global warming.

 

Not only does grass get rid of carbon dioxide but it also gets rid of pollutants like dirt, dust particles, chemicals, and allergens in the air. Solely in the United States, lawns and grass get rid of about 12 million tons of pollutants in the air annually. They break down those chemicals and bad things in the air and convert the dust and dirt back into the soil.

 

Global warming is created from too many greenhouse gases in the atmosphere; a big percentage of it being from carbon dioxide (82%). One of the main pollutants grass gets rid of is carbon dioxide in the process of it turning it into oxygen.

 

Home landscapes with grass lawns also reduce air temperature up to 14°F.

 

When the sun rays hit lawns, they are able to cool themselves down through transpiration and cools the grass and surrounding areas through evaporation.

 

The average lawn can bring temperatures down that is around equal to what nine tons of air-conditioning could do.

Photo by Luis Dalvan from Pexels

 

With the recent threats of climate change, every lawn owner can take part in helping to stop it from getting worse. Just by taking care of their lawn, the grass will be able to thrive and keep on helping the environment.

 

According to Jamie Condliffe from the MIT Technology Review, he says we are on the verge of finding out whether plants could be a substantial method of creating fuel while also getting rid of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had an idea in 2014 to grow more trees and plants: as the plants grow, they take out more and more carbon dioxide and when they are finished, we could burn them to generate power.

 

Although there is no guarantee that this plan will work, it is an amazing idea and could potentially help prevent the rise in climate change while simultaneously creating a new source of power.

 

Grass can also help society and homeowners.

 

A healthy lawn can not only add beauty to a home but it can increase the value of the home. When looking for a home, people always notice the beauty of it and its surroundings. It doesn’t hurt to know that the soil is healthy and fertile for plants if the buyers ever wanted a garden. Not only that but the existing beauty of the trees and plant will be a big bonus. A study by the USDA Forest Service says that lawns and trees can add about 10% to a property’s initial value.

 

An interesting aspect of grass is that it can also trap sound. In a city there a lot of hard surfaces like concrete and not a lot of grass. This makes a surrounding where the sound has an easier time to bounce off of and create a louder atmosphere. A lawn can act like a blanket or insulation panel which then absorbs the sound from surrounding people, cars, and animals. That is why walking in the countryside, where there is a vast openness of grass and plants, is a lot more peaceful than walking in a city.

 

Photo by Muhammad Khairul Iddin Adnan from Pexels

Lawns and grass not only benefit the eyes with its beautiful scenery but the environment. It is such a big role in creating oxygen and getting rid of harmful pollutants in the atmosphere.

 

Grass is a key player in the restoration of our planet and we should pay closer attention to it; considering there are thousands of types of grass in the world.

 

We would all do a little better by educating ourselves on grass.

 

Featured Image, at the top of the page: Photo by Scott Webb from Pexels

 

 

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