"Handout" - Tree and Turf Resources

Joseph Murray

Tree Literacy, LLC

Williamsville, Virginia



My favorite books that describe America’s “Lawn Culture:”


  • The Lawn: A History of an American Obsession by Virginia Scott Jenkins. (Paperback – April 17, 1994)
  • Lawn People: How Grasses, Weeds, and Chemicals Make Us Who We Are by Paul Robbins. (Paperback – June 28, 2007)
  • American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn by Ted Steinberg. (Paperback – March 17, 2007)


Article summarizing Milesi’s work with NASA mapping turf grass across the US.

Overview of Turfgrass Biology

Example of turfgrass allelopathy

Environmental Impact

  • Scotts Miracle-Gro has developed a RoundUp Ready GMO grass. Although they claimed they would keep it under control while conducting field trials (while applying for permission to sell this product)... you can guess what happened. I'm particularly baffled how the Feds have now changed their minds and are moving closer to granting permission. 
  • U.S. lawn maintenance annually consumes about 800 million gallons of gasoline, $5.2 billion of fossil-fuel derived fertilizers and $700 million in pesticides. Up to two thirds of the drinking water consumed in municipalities goes to watering lawns.

Health Effect (Pesticides)

  • American Academy of Pediatrics. Pediatrics. December 2012, VOLUME 130 / ISSUE 6  Pesticide Exposure in Children.
  • National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Herbicide ("RoundUp" - glyphosate)


Health Effect (Human)

  • What's bad for turf (shade) is good for humans!
  • Small-scale human-biometeorological impacts of shading by a large tree. Noémi Kántor, Attila Kovács, & Ágnes Takács.  Open Geosciences (formerly Central European Journal of Geosciences). Volume 8, Issue 1 (Apr 2016)


  • Turfgrass Identification:


    “When Grass Isn’t Greener: Alternatives to the “perfect” lawn, at home and at Harvard.” The Harvard Magazine.  By Nell Porter Brown. March-April, 2011. 


     "The Roaming Ecologist" website and blog by Jameson Crumpler, a drylands ecologist conducting grassland research in Far West Texas. 


    Denver Water (conservation campaign).




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