Turfgrass: the benefits it provides go way beyond aesthetics

In the face of a growing body of evidence to the contrary, turfgrass continues to be damned as a costly and, perhaps even, environmentally unfriendly frivolity. That criticism is at least partly responsible for the actions that many communities in Canada and the United States are taking to restrict the use of products that maintain the health and appearance of the turfgrass on residential and commerical properties, school grounds and public parks..

It’s enough to make you say, “Whoa partners. What are you basing these criticisms on? Apparently not on peer-reviewed scientific studies that show otherwise.”

The fact is that green spaces (i.e. spaces covered with turfgrass) provide many health and environmental benefits that are fully supported by the contemporary scientific literature. The benefits of green spaces go way beyond merely their ornamental or aesthetic benefits.

Says us? You bet, and also says the Environmental Health Research Foundation (EHRF) in a new 25-page report. If you’re in the Green Industry, you will want to download a pdf of “Benefits of Green Space … Recent Research”

The report is a scientific review of literature that provides a comprehensive evaluation and analysis of recent research studies from a variety of sources across the United States on the environmental and health benefits of properly maintained green space. It cites primarily peer-reviewed, published studies as well as government and academic reports that have been developed since 2000.

The studies in the report focus on the benefits of “turfgrass” or “turf”. This includes, of course, lawns, commercial or institutional turf surfaces and public facilities such as parks and playing fields. EHRF reviewed hundreds of studies using standard research criteria for each section of the report (e.g. erosion control, etc.) The findings and the studies were reviewed using six standard research criteria:

‚ Impartial, objective and balanced review of the data

‚ Adequately comprehensive review of the available data

‚ Properly used “weight of evidence” to evaluate the data

‚ The findings are supported by the data in the studies cited

‚ The studies cited have been subjected to independent scientific peer review

‚ Studies since 2000

Scientific studies highlighted in the report include the environmental benefits of turf in erosion control; water and air purification; temperature modification; oxygen generation; and carbon sequestration.

Key findings in the report concluded that:

Healthy, properly maintained green space provides substantial benefits to the environment in terms of erosion control/water purification, air purification, temperature modification/energy and cost saving, oxygen generation and carbon sequestration.
Green space provides substantial benefits to human health in terms of recreation/increased physical activity/reduced risk of obesity and healthcare/stress reduction.

This data rebuts claims that the need for healthy, properly maintained green space is only ornamental or aesthetic.

“This compilation of recent, peer-reviewed research demonstrates the benefits of properly maintained green space,” stated John Heinze, Ph.D. and researcher at the EHRF. “This should also help municipalities, government entities, schools, park authorities, developers, and residents in further valuing and enhancing the significant benefits that green space can provide to both property owners and communities alike.”

The EHRF is a non-profit, non-partisan scientific research Foundation. Its goal is to further the understanding of science related to health and the environment, and especially the interaction between the environment and human health.

For a copy of the report, email or visit


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