She studies the secret life of lawns

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Do you have questions about what it’s like to be a ecologist? Ask Maria Kim, and keep your eyes on Science Buzz for the answer!

"I never knew lawns were so fascinating."

Lawns are important. We use them to play, to relax, to socialize. They make our homes and neighborhoods look nice. Many people spend a lot of time and money getting their lawn just the way they like it.

Lawns are also important for the environment. They hold soil in place, filter rain water, absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen.

And lawns are big—some 40 million acres in the US! That’s about the size of the state of Washington, and more than the amount of land dedicated to corn, or wheat or any other single food. All those lawns combined make grass America’s #1 irrigated crop.

Dr. Maria Kim of the Twin Cities Household Ecosystem Project (TCHEP) studies the impact all that grass has on the environment. “Lawns and yards are a major component of the urban ecosystem,” she says. “We want to understand how and why people make their lawn-care choices.”