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Published: Thursday, 7/26/2007

Color Your Environment Green

(ARA) - Where's the best place to start improving the environment? "Right in your own back yard," says Den Gardner, executive director of Project EverGreen, "and don't forget your front yard as well."

Gardner is talking about a growing "grassroots" effort by Project EverGreen to focus homeowners on improving their own personal green space. "It's important to realize that individual efforts do matter," he says and points to research from www.projectevergreen.com to prove his point. For example:

Protection and Cooling

Working to create thick, healthy turf has several advantages. First, it provides a living filter to help trap pollutants. This not only helps protect groundwater, but can reduce storm water runoff into lakes and streams as well. In addition, through a process known as evapotranspiration, grass and other plants warmed by the sun give up water which then evaporates to cool not only the plant itself but the surrounding area as well. As a result, a well-tended lawn is one of nature's most overlooked, and yet most efficient cooling systems. In fact, researchers have calculated that evapotranspiration from the front lawns in a block of eight houses, produces cooling equivalent to 70 tons of air conditioning.

Improved Air Quality

Having a plan to promote the growth and health of your trees, shrubs and turf is also important in fighting global warming. For example, a single tree has the ability, through a process called carbon sequestration, to annually absorb 26 pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere. This equals the amount found in 11,000 miles of car emissions. Which means that promoting tree planting in your neighborhood and area parks can pay off big. One study shows that an acre of trees has the ability to remove 13 tons of pollutants annually.

Lower Energy Consumption

Don't take the summertime shade you enjoy for granted. Properly pruning, watering and feeding the trees that shade your home can also help reduce your use of electricity. One study estimates that properly placed shade trees can reduce a home's air conditioning demand by 10 to 30 percent. That's important, not only for your budget, but for the ability to reduce the amount of fossil fuel used in power generation. Keep this in mind if you need more shade and be sure to consult your landscape professionals. They can advise about the right type of trees for your area as well as the best placement to gain maximum shade value.

Plan, Plan, Plan

The bottom line, according to Gardner, is that efforts to improve your home's green space can benefit the environment. "Green matters," he says, "but it can matter even more when you understand how to balance the amount and placement of grass, trees, shrubs and other plantings to produce benefits for the environment and for your family's lifestyle as well. That takes some planning -- but it's well worth it."

Project EverGreen is a national non-profit organization representing service providers, associations, suppliers/distributors, media companies, other organizations and individuals affiliated with the green industry. Project EverGreen's mission is to raise the awareness of the environmental, economic and lifestyle benefits of landscapes and promote the significance of those who preserve and enhance green spaces at home, work and play. Courtesy of ARAcontent

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