How Lawns Can Reduce Water Pollution

Your turf can help reduce sediment runoff and protect waterways. Find out how to grow a lawn that fights water pollution with Sunday.

How Lawns Can Reduce Water Pollution

From rising water temperatures and oil spills to sediment runoff and improper waste disposal, water is at the forefront of global environmental concerns. When harsh pesticides are applied to lawns they can also cause a host of environmental issues. But did you know that a healthy lawn can actually help protect our waterways? 

Pollutants can go two places. They either enter the green filter or the gray funnel. The green filter is turf, plants and other greenspaces (and the underlying soil) that actually filters and absorbs runoff. The gray funnel is bare soil or impervious surfaces like pavement or cement that do little to absorb or slow down pollutants. At Sunday, we are working to grow better green filters with every beautiful backyard.

Where Does Water Pollution Come From?

In urban areas, the #1 cause of water pollution is industrial wastewater,  faulty sewer and septic systems. Compounding this issue is the abundance of concrete, bare soil and pavement. 

Erosion and sediment loss is another key issue in water pollution. One of the greatest benefits of turf is that it reduces and in some cases prevents erosion. Exposed soil and the gray funnel only compounds erosion. As a result, sediment runoff ends up in waterways causing additional pollution. . 

When granular fertilizers, pesticides and other harsh chemicals are incorrectly-applied on lawns they can also spread into waterways through the gray funnel. It doesn’t matter if these products  are organic or synthetic, when improperly applied they will contaminate waterways.

How Do Lawns Improve Water Quality?

Natural spaces, lawns and wild areas are a critical part of preserving water quality and reducing water pollution, especially in urban environments. Turf is a great natural filter. It can reduce sediment erosion by anywhere from 3 – 22x after large storms.

Perennial turfgrasses have a dense, fibrous root system that is very efficient at filtering pollutants, including toxic metals and hydrocarbon compounds from oil, grease and fuels. They also do a great job filtering household and industrial hazardous materials such as waste oils, paint thinners and solvents. Turf is a great ally in preventing leaching into groundwater. 

Grassroots are very fine, thin and fibrous. Essentially they act as mini cracks in soil that water can travel through to be absorbed in the soil. Not only does turf effectively filter  run off and waste, but it helps reduce run off by holding water.

PRO-TIP: Just because turf makes a great filter, doesn’t mean we should allow any of these pollutants to hit our lawns. Be sure to always dispose of pesticides and household products properly.

How does Sunday Help Reduce Water Pollution?

Sunday is dedicated to supporting healthy waterways. From our products to our application practices and our 1% for the Planet Partnerships, we are working to empower water-conscious lawn practices. 

Minimum Nutrient Levels

MLSN guidelines help us accurately deliver the exact nutrients that each individual lawn needs to grow thick, green and healthy grass. That helps us reduce application rates, and prevent overapplication altogether.

Fertilizer Shipments

Every Sunday fertilizer shipment is timed to meet the climate and seasonal needs of each yard. This way we can avoid dormant periods, cut down on applications and make sure that no nutrients go to waste. Every nutrient pouch contains liquid fertilizer instead of granules. Not only does this make it easier to apply, it cuts down on runoff since liquid applications are more precise.

Reduced Inputs

Lucky Lawn reduces nutrient input because it introduces clover into lawns which is a natural nitrogen fixer. We also limit the use of phosphorus which can contribute to algae growth in waterways. Only our Lawn Kickstart product contains P. Intended for new lawns it is an important ingredient when used properly. But by keeping it out of other products, we ensure that no excess phosphorus is ever unnecessarily applied.

Seed Selection 

Sunday promotes use of Sunday Grass Seed as a management tool to limit the use of chemicals in lawns. Sunday grass seed varieties have been evaluated by sustainable turfgrass programs including TWCA and A-List. These studies validate that these varieties do better in heat and drought stress, as well as with lower inputs of fertilizer and pesticides.

Soil Testing

We use Soil tests to better understand your lawn ecosystem which ensures that everyone gets the most out of their lawn with fewer inputs or applications.

Promote Water Conservation

We keep supplemental watering to a minimum, which prevents soil from becoming overly saturated and producing run-off.  Not only does this reduce water use, but it also minimizes water pollution as well.

3 Simple Ways to Rethink Water Use 

  1. Use rain barrels 
  2. Grow native plants
  3. Let your lawn go dormant

Water Pollution Affects Us All

One of the best ways to reduce water pollution and conserve resources is to rethink the way we approach our lawns. Excessive application and harsh products only compound these issues. Instead, by working with our lawn rather than fighting against it, we can utilize more sustainable practices and  keep our lawns, and our planet, green.

Cited Sources

Beard and Green. The Role of Turfgrasses in Environmental Protection and Their Benefits to Humans. Journal of Environmental Quality. 

Water Quality and Professional Lawn Care. North Carolina State University Extension. 

What You Can Do: In Your Yard. United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Homeowner’s Guide to Protecting Water Quality and the Environment. Colorado State University Extension. 

Lawns & Water Pollution. University of Nebraska Lincoln.