PopSci pursues the perfect lawn

Apr 13, 2010

Popular Science, the world's largest science and technology magazine, spotlighted the work of UC Riverside Cooperative Extension turf scientist Jim Baird in its May 2010 "Statistically Speaking" feature. Titled "The Perfect Lawn," the full-page story said Baird is bioengineering grass that drinks less water and still earns praise for its lush, emerald green appearance.

"The process is sort of a gladiator academy for grass," PopSci says. The scientists grow promising hybrids, then turn off the water to see which ones survive.

The article opens with statistics on turf grass' ability to sequester carbon. U.S. lawns, it says, could trap enough carbon each year to offset the emissions from burning 1.9 billion gallons of gasoline. However, it takes 7 billion gallons of water a year to keep the grass green.

Other statistics in the feature were:

  • 625 square feet - Area of lawn needed to make enough oxygen for one person for one day
  • 1.57 billion hours - Time homeowners spend mowing the lawn per year
  • 37 billion pounds - Carbon dioxide that residential lawns can store per year
  • 800 million gallons - Amount of gas guzzled by lawn mowers annually
  • 33,000 square miles - Area of the U.S. covered by residential lawns
What is the value of a feature in Popular Science, a magazine with a 1.3 million monthly circulation? Stories are probably better-read than ads, and a full-page, four-color ad costs $124,135, according to the magazine's published rates.

By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist

Attached Images:

Jim Baird