For Immediate Release - April 20, 2010

State Environmental Officials Mark April as Lawn Care Month

BOSTON - April 20, 2010 - With the summer months fast approaching, Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Commissioner Scott J. Soares and agricultural industry representatives today gathered at Paul Revere Park to mark Lawn Care Month.

"Not only is a green and healthy lawn nice to look at and a place for children to play, it cleans our water and our air," said Energy and Environment Secretary Ian Bowles, whose office includes DAR and DCR.

Keeping a healthy lawn can bring cooler temperatures to urban environments, prevent erosion, purify water and improve air quality. During the active growing season, a healthy lawn area of 55 square feet provides enough oxygen for one adult person for one day."

A healthy, dense lawn absorbs rainfall and prevents runoff and erosion of precious top soil. It also traps an estimated 12 million tons of dust and dirt released into the U.S. atmosphere annually. Healthy lawns contribute to improved air quality by trapping and breaking down dust and other particulate matter. This is especially true in urban areas where dust is generated by motorized vehicles. Because a lawn completely covers a soil surface, soil particles are prevented from being carried into the atmosphere and redeposited.

Lawns also purify water entering into underground aquifers. Roots and supporting soil microbes act as a filter to capture and break down many types of pollutants common in urban environments, according DAR.

"From the aesthetic to the ecological, lawns are often overlooked for the significant benefits they provide to our daily lives," said Commissioner Soares. "I encourage residents to visit their local garden centers to learn more about good lawn care practices that are best suited to their lifestyles and our environment."

During the event, Commissioner Soares read a proclamation from Governor Deval Patrick declaring April Lawn Care Month.

Lawns provide cooler summer places for children to play than asphalt or concrete surfaces. Through the effects of shading and as water is released from the earth into the atmosphere, lawns, trees and shrubs in urban environments can reduce air temperatures between seven and 14 degrees. Lawns also provide a cushioned surface that reduces the potential for injuries. Lawns alone and in combination with other landscape plants contribute to noise reduction by absorbing sound.

"Well-tended lawns can have enormous ecological and aesthetic benefits to neighborhoods and communities," said DCR Commissioner Richard K. Sullivan Jr. "We applaud Governor Patrick's declaration that will help spread the word to homeowners across the Commonwealth."

In suburban and urban landscapes, where there is a lot of pavement and other impervious surfaces, large amounts of storm water runoff are channeled to storm sewer systems that dump directly into nearby lakes, streams and rivers, degrading water quality. Lawn grasses prevent erosion and increase water infiltration into the soil, helping to protect surface water quality and recharge groundwater supplies.

"In addition to the aesthetic contributions made by trees and landscape plants, a well-designed, landscaped lawn and garden offers energy efficiency that literally grows over time. This is the perfect time of year for homeowners to talk with a professional in the nursery and landscape industry; and to evaluate their landscapes to take advantage of these energy savings," said Rena Sumner, executive director of Massachusetts Nursery and Landscape Association Inc.

Click here for more information about maintaining a healthy lawn from the Department of Environmental Protection.

Click here for a step-by-step guide to lawn care that protects water resources while protecting public health. The guide offers suggestions about using organic fertilizers, how to select landscaping plants and grasses, and strategies for watering efficiently.

DAR's mission is to ensure the long-term viability of local agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions - Agricultural Development, Animal Health, Crop and Pest Services, and Technical Assistance - the DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the Commonwealth's agricultural community, working to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture's role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR's website at www.mass.gov/agr, and/or follow at twitter.com/MDARCommish