Beginning in spring 2021, we began an in-depth literature review to determine the likely emissions (in carbon dioxide equivalent) from maintaining turfgrass, which includes emissions from mowing, fertilizing, and irrigating grasses. We also developed a methodology for a spatial analysis of turfgrass by type using Redlands, CA as our pilot area. Over the past year, we've expanded this project to calculate emissions from turfgrass maintenance in Los Angeles County.
Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly changing global climate, leading to increased global average temperature, changes in precipitation patterns, rising sea level, and increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events. The maintenance of turfgrass, including fertilizing, irrigation, and mowing, is an under-recognized source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, particularly nitrous oxide, carbon oxides, hydrocarbons, and volatile organic compounds. In addition to atmospheric warming, these gases also contribute to poor local air quality. The state of California has ambitious policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve local air quality, however, southern California continues to be one of the most polluted regions in the world; moreover, it is an arid and water-stressed area. Therefore, reducing air pollution is necessary to meet state and federal air quality standards and meet state emissions reductions targets. In this pilot study, we use published estimates of GHG CO2 emissions and an original GIS analysis to estimate the GHG emissions associated with maintaining turf - including watering, fertilizing, and mowing - in Redlands, CA. We discuss potential opportunities for reducing emissions through local and state policies and programs.