PerspectiveSUSTAINABILITY

An alternative urban green carpet

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Science  12 Oct 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6411, pp. 148-149
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau6974

Summary

Lawns are a global phenomenon. They green the urban environment and provide amenable public and private open spaces. In Sweden, 52% of the urban green areas are lawns (1). In the United States, lawns cover 1.9% of the country's terrestrial area (2) and lawn grass is the largest irrigated nonfood crop (3). Assuming lawn would cover 23% of cities globally [on the basis of data from the United States and Sweden (1)], it would occupy 0.15 million to 0.80 million km2 (depending on urban definitions)—that is, an area bigger than England and Spain combined or about 1.4% of the global grassland area. Yet, lawns exact environmental and economic costs, and given the environmental and economic impacts of climate change, it is time to consider new alternative “lawnscapes” in urban planning as beneficial and sustainable alternatives.