Longmont, CO – – – As the summer heat continues, it is important to understand why urban areas are hotter than rural areas. Urban areas may be 5 to 8 degrees warmer than rural green areas where trees and turfgrass cover most of the surface (Duble,1996). Turfgrass has been proven to reduce high levels of radiant heat found in urban areas.
Research indicates that the front lawns of eight houses have the cooling effect of about 70 tons of air conditioning, while the average home has an air conditioner with only three or four tons of capacity. A few degrees difference in temperatures around houses will save significant energy and thus reduce cost. Turfgrass has also proven to possess a positive cooling effect when compared to other surfaces including dry soil and synthetic surfaces.
“During the heat of the summer it’s great to know that the grass that increases our property values and adds enjoyment to life is also lowering our energy requirements,” notes Steve Korby, President of the Rocky Mountain Sod Growers. “Removing grass isn’t wise in the long run,” he said. “By trying to decrease water usage, consumers end up increasing energy use based upon a misunderstanding of how much water grass actually requires.”
Korby continues, “It should be noted that turfgrass also absorbs harsh sounds much better than common surfaces found in urban landscapes such as gravel, pavement or bare ground.” Studies have shown that bluegrass absorbs sound even better than a heavy carpet on a felt pad ( Potter,1998). Turfgrass also reduces glare. Buildings, concrete walks, and glass reflect significantly more light than turfgrass does and any excess water percolates through the soil back into the aquifer to recharge it.
Understanding the actual water requirements for grass is important. While bluegrass has a reputation for being water hungry, it actually does well on less water and can go dormant during drought. “People tend to overwater their grass. Learning how much water to apply is the key. Removing grass isn’t the answer. Watering properly is. It’s worth learning about to preserve our landscape and save energy,” Korby says. “Properly installed sod provides many benefits.” he adds.
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