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15 Things You Never Thought You Needed to Know About ... Grass

We've hit the heart of winter, and in many parts of the United States green grass is a memory -- but it need not be. Springtime will be here before you know it, and with it will come grass: an incredibly complex, yet rarely talked about, mainstay of American landscapes. Here we have covered some of the most interesting aspects of this adaptable green plant (the front lawn variety).

Only about 50 species of grass are suitable for use in lawns (out of an estimated 10,000).

  1. A 10,000-square-foot lawn contains six grass plants per square inch, 850 plants per square foot and 8.5 million plants in all.

  2. Ninety percent of a grass plant's weight is in its roots.

  3. Grass lawns have a major cooling effect: the front lawns of eight average houses have the same cooling effect as 24 home central air conditioning units.

  4. A 2,500-square-foot patch of grass releases enough oxygen for a family of four, and absorbs pollutants like carbon dioxide, hydrogen fluoride and perosyacetyle nitrate.

  5. Grass lawns help purify water that goes into underground aquifers; the plants' root mass and soil microbes act as a filter when the water flows through, both capturing and breaking down pollutants.

  6. There are an estimated 10,000 species of grass worldwide (and only about 50 are suitable for use in a lawn).

  7. At the 2006 U.S. Open, the grass was mowed daily to ensure consistency of playing conditions.

Grass lawns did not exist in the United States until the late 18th century.

  1. The White House Lawn was once home to grazing sheep. The sheep grazed during the term of President Woodrow Wilson, and their wool was sold to raise money for the Red Cross during World War I.

  2. Between 70 percent and 80 percent of grass plants are made up of water (grass clippings are 90 percent water).

  3. Americans spent over $11.6 billion on lawn care in 2003, according to a Harris Interactive poll.

  4. Grass helps control air pollution by trapping an estimated 12 million tons of dust and dirt from the air each year.

  5. Green lawns like we see today didn't exist in America until the late 18th century.

  6. Early lawns, including those of Presidents Washington and Jefferson, were kept "trimmed" by grazing livestock.

  7. A dense grass lawn absorbs rainfall six times better than a wheat field and four times better than a hayfield.

  8. Grass needs about 1 inch of water a week to thrive.

Recommended Reading

The Healthiest Grasses You Could Possibly Eat (Hint: Not Your Lawn)

The Dangers of 6 Common Lawn and Garden Tools


Michigan Department of Agriculture

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