Home and building construction practices often remove, destroy, or significantly impact the health of native soil systems in urban and suburban areas, and the high carbon sequestration rates and fibrous root systems of perennial grasses are one of the most effective ways of returning soil structure to a more natural state. Plants, including grasses, do this by capturing atmospheric carbon dioxide and using solar energy to convert it into complex carbon compounds, primarily sugars. This carbon can be deposited into stems, leaves, and roots where it is used for growth and development, but it can also be captured in the soil as aging plant roots die off and new ones are produced, thereby removing carbon from the atmosphere.
There are an estimated 40 – 50 million acres of urban grasslands in the United States alone, and recent research indicates that grasses managed in urban settings are a net carbon sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide even after accounting for maintenance emissions. Furthermore, carbon sequestration has been proposed to slow atmospheric carbon dioxide enrichment, and soil is the second largest global pool of carbon. Want to learn more about how lawns and other grasses capture atmospheric carbon dioxide? Check out some of the highlights from recent research below!