Benefits of Turf

Absorbs rainfall and reduces run-off

Allows water to percolate down through the soil profile into the aquifers below

Cools the surface of the earth

Absorbs CO2

Stores carbon in the roots and crowns, and locks it up in the form of humus

Produces oxygen

Filters and breaks-down pollutants

Perfect surface for leisure and sport

How does turf do all this?

Turf is a unique ecosystem comprising not only the above-ground parts of the plant but also the below-ground parts and also, crucially, the soil the grass is growing in.  It’s a system of biological interaction between the grass plants and the living organisms within the soil.  And all this biology adds up to a system of incredible complexity, diversity and activity, and explains the remarkable properties of turf.

Like all plants, grass absorbs CO2 from the air and turns it into O2 and carbohydrate during the chemical process called photosynthesis which goes on inside the plant cells.  The difference between turf and other plants is the huge number of individual plants involved.  There are 10 million grass plants in an average lawn, which means that there is a lot of CO2 absorbed, and a lot of O2 and carbohydrate produced.  Imagine this on a national, or global, scale!

What happens to the carbohydrates?  Some of this captured carbon is used by the plant in its normal growth, and some is stored in the roots and crowns of the grass plant.  Some is locked up in the humus as soil organic carbon, a process known as sequestration.  Yet more is used for nutrition by the soil microorganisms.

Turf soils contain a vast array of living organisms, ranging from larger creatures such as larvae of beetles and flies, spiders, millipedes, earthworms, and insects, to microorganisms including, bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes, yeasts, algae and protozoa.  The microorganisms break down the proteins and carbohydrates in dead leaves and roots into simple compounds that the grass plants can re-use.

The soil bacteria are also doing the very important job of turning atmospheric nitrogen into a form that plants can use.  This is how grass gets most of its nitrogen, an essential nutrient needed by grass to thrive.