June 15, 2023

Carbon sequestration and your lawn

How much carbon can a healthy lawn pull from the atmosphere? In this post we dive into carbon sequestration and what you can expect from a properly cared-for lawn.

Carbon sequestration and your lawn

Having a healthy lawn can help in sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. Through photosynthesis, plants take up carbon dioxide during the day and release oxygen into the atmosphere. This process helps to naturally reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in our environment. Carbon sequestration is further enhanced when soil microbes present in healthy soils convert nitrogen molecules into nitrates and organic carbon compounds that are stored below ground for long-term sequestration. Microorganisms like fungi, actinomycetes, bacteria and protozoa play an important role in breaking down organic matter and forming complex humic substances that increase soil fertility and contribute to carbon storage. Healthy soils also contain higher levels of nutrient cycling which helps stabilize plant growth as well as enhancing its ability to absorb more carbon than unhealthy soils. By maintaining a healthy soil system through careful management of watering, fertilizing, and aeration practices, lawns can be made more effective at sequestering carbon from the atmosphere.  This is an important tool in our efforts to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in our environment and help mitigate climate change.

Researchers from The Ohio State University have estimated that some lawns can sequester between 46.0 to 127.1 grams of carbon per square meter per year. This is a rather broad range, but the range speaks to the level of carbon input by lawn manager or owner as well as the health of the soil. Here at Canopy a typical lawn that we care for is about 6,000 square feet, or 557 square meters. If you have a healthy lawn sequestering 100 grams per square meter your lawn would be removing 55,700 grams, or 123 pounds of carbon from the atmosphere each year. The healthier your lawn and soil the more carbon it will pull from the atmosphere.

Healthy soil contains a wealth of microorganisms that hang out with plant roots and help keep carbon in the soil. Healthy soil has the ability to absorb more water during stormy weather and prevent runoff that can pollute waterways. But, the excessive use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides can harm the helpful microbes present in the soil. Therefore, it is important to maintain a healthy lawn and soil system through the use of more organic fertilizers and pest control methods.  This helps in ensuring that lawns can be used to sequester carbon from the atmosphere efficiently.

By implementing sustainable practices such as aeration, proper watering regimes and using natural fertilizers, we can ensure that our lawns are contributing towards reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. A healthy lawn is also beneficial in providing homeowners with a space for recreation and relaxation while contributing towards mitigating climate change. With a bit of effort on our part, we can help create healthier environments – both indoors and outdoors – that will benefit us now and in the future.

For more information on how to take care of your lawn and soil to help sequester carbon, you can check out the EPA’s Lawn Care and Maintenance page or contact your local cooperative extension office. If you live in our service areas of Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina then feel free to reach out to us for a quote for greener lawn care service. With a bit of effort, we all can contribute towards reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels