More and more, people are choosing natural products to support their health, safety and overall well-being. Like the food we eat or the soap we wash with, the groundcover we walk and play on is a choice we can make to be healthier and happier.
Another study recently published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine demonstrated that NCAA Division II and III football players were 63% more likely to have anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries and NCAA Division I football players were almost 3 times as likely to have posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injuries when playing on synthetic turf as opposed natural grass.
Recent research published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine discovered 16% more lower body injuries on synthetic turf than on natural grass among elite NFL athletes between 2012 and 2016. If all NFL games played on synthetic turf were played on turfgrass during the study period, 319 fewer lower body injuries would be expected.
Why? Previous research has shown that football cleats interact differently on synthetic and natural grass. Since cleats more easily create divots (a hole in the field from force) on natural grass than on synthetic turf, less force is placed on the body, which may help prevent injury.
Today, plastic and other synthetic materials can be found in nearly everything we touch. For the safety and well-being of our planet, it’s more important than ever to preserve the nature that surrounds and supports us. What better way to integrate nature into our increasingly urban lives than by surrounding ourselves with living, breathing plants?
The fact is, natural grass plays a key role in healthy ecosystems.
Did you know that there are more than 11,000 species of perennial grasses on the planet? Grasses grow naturally on every continent and in almost every terrestrial ecosystem. They feed the world’s growing population – four of the top-five food crops are grasses and three of these provide nearly 60% of human’s caloric intake worldwide1.
There are at least 20 species of perennial turfgrass suitable for spaces we use every day – our home lawns, athletic fields, golf courses and roadsides.
Natural grasses improve the air we breathe by absorbing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses, while releasing oxygen. One recent research paper documented that lawn grasses in a U.S. metropolitan area accounted for 50% of the carbon captured in the entire city2.
Natural grass acts as a filter to capture pollutants found in urban and suburban areas before they reach lakes, streams or groundwater. This natural groundcover also manages storm and rain water so that ecosystems stay balanced.
The world’s best soils developed and evolved under perennial grass cover. Grasses deposit carbon into soils through their extensive, fibrous root system, which improves soil structure, air and water holding capacity, and overall productivity. In today’s urban ecosystems where native soils are disturbed or destroyed, perennial grasses naturally restore soils to healthy conditions. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends grasses on construction sites, and research shows that it is significantly better at protecting soils from erosion than artificial materials.
Natural grass moderates the surrounding heat and remains at cooler temperatures than hardscapes and other surfaces by as much as 55 degrees3, making it safer and more comfortable to walk and play on. Research on the effects of urban heat islands indicates that 57 out of 60 cities measured have seen temperature increases since the 1940s4. Plants, primarily trees and grasses, help mitigate this effect because of radiative shading and evapotranspiration. These cooling effects not only reduce temperatures in urban environments – they also significantly reduce energy use, cooling costs and carbon emissions from power plants.
In complement with other plants, natural grass supports a planet where all living beings can thrive – including insects, animals and humans. Let’s take advantage of all that natural grass has to offer!
1The Environmental Literacy Council. 2019. Crops. Available at https://enviroliteracy.org/food/crops/. (verified 7 May 2019). 2Ziter. C, and M. Turner. 2018. Current and historical land use influence soil-based ecosystem services in an urgban landscape. Ecological Applications. 28(3):pp 643-654. 3The Center for Sports Surface Research. 2019. Sportsturf Scoop. Available at https://plantscience.psu.edu/research/centers/ssrc/sportsturf-scoop (verified 7 May 2019). 4Kenward, A. Yawitz, D., Sanford, T., and R. Wang. Summer in the city: hot and getting hotter. Climate Central. 2014. Available at http://assets.climatecentral.org/pdfs/UrbanHeatIsland.pdf (verified 7 May 2019).