Keyword Site Search


Eddie George was a star running back in the NFL for the Tennessee Titan before returning to the profession of landscape architecture.
Cole Lighting Air-O-Lator
Urbanscape Dolphin WaterSlides
Gary Lee Price John Deere
OneSource Aquatics

Grass As Biofuel

I know I'm probably not the first to mention this, but I wanted to get your thoughts. I read an article recently in your magazine that stated NASA calculated the area of lawns in the U.S. to be 50,000 square miles, a little more than the area of the state of Mississippi.

After reading an article on corn stover (leaves and stalks of maize) to ethanol and another one written on stover pellet power (Kearney Hub newspaper June 13-14 2009), I couldn't help wonder why we don't collect the lawn debris for processing into fuel.

First, most people would like to get it out of their yards but have no place to put it. Second, if it is allowed to compost into the yard it decays into CO2 and methane, both of which are GHGs (green house gasses).
Third, it looks like it could be a good resource for fuel.

Roughly, 10,000 lbs /acre/ year @ 7,000 BTUs / dry lb = 70,000,000 BTUs / acre or 44,800,000,000 BTUs /square mile X 50,000 =2.24E+15 BTUs possible. Or, at 8,600,000 BTUs/ barrel of crude oil about 260,465,116 barrels of oil.

I don't know how that converts to CO2 or methane release to the atmosphere or what our carbon footprint would look like if we were saving that much oil, however, it would have to be significant. We could just offset the fossil-fuel coal in a coal-fired power plant with this green fuel and save all that fossil carbon from the atmosphere not even mention the methane creation or release. Also, no interference with existing crops and the harvest would progress over a six or eight month period with a huge labor force already working on the harvest.

Steve Wahls
Loomis, NE

Editor's note: Scientists at the National Science Foundation say that have found a way to produce biofuel from grass (and other organic waste). It means that vehicles could be powered by grass.

John Regalbuto, program director for catalysis and biocatalysis in NSF’s division of chemical, biochemical and biotechnology systems notes:

"So we have a billions tons of year of this stuff (organic waste) and it just sits around and it rots and it goes up into the atmosphere. Why not use that and make energy out of it before it rots?"

John Regalbuto talks about "green gasoline" and its potential as an
alternative energy at

Joe Sardonia wrote re Re "Spray Park Water Treatment System Design – What Matters?"

As landscape architects we tend to forget the operation and maintenance requirements after the project is built. We opened a sprayground in 2004, and while it is extremely popular (people traveling almost 100 miles one way to enjoy it), it is incredibly labor intensive. Don’t discount the corrosive power of chlorine. We designed a separate pump building over a pit where the water is treated and recirculated. Everything is corroding, even though we attempted to use noncorrosive materials.

Joe Sardonia
Supervising Landscape Architect
Monmouth County Park System
Lincroft, N.J.

Re "From the Pros to High School: Innovative Sports Field Construction,", Simon Eching writes to clarify the terms graywater and recycled water:

Graywater and reclaimed or recycled water are not the same. Graywater is untreated water which has not come into contact with toilet waste. Graywater includes used water from showers, bath tubs, bathroom wash basin, clothes washing machines and laundry tubs or equivalent discharge as approved by the administrative authority. It does not include waste water from kitchen sinks, photo lab sinks, dishwashers or laundry water from soiled diapers.

Recycled water, sometime call reclaimed water, is highly treated wastewater from various sources such as domestic sewage, industrial wastewater and storm water runoff. Most recycled water treatment plants produce tertiary treated water, meaning the water has been through three levels of treatment including filtration and disinfection. Tertiary treated recycled water can be used for landscape, agricultural irrigation, car washing, fish ponds, fire fighting, groundwater recharge and in fountains and recreational lakes where swimming is allowed.

Simon Eching
Dept. of Water Resources
Office of Water Use Efficiency
Sacramento, Calif.

Re "Eddie George Overhaul in the Historic Jefferson Street District" in the historic Jefferson Street district of Nashville

Delighted to see a high-profile person as Eddie George featured as a landscape architect in the role of community redevelopment/development planning and design. From the background graphics, it appears that some creative and thoughtful effort has gone into the project. For only one month to have transpired, the work appears to be outstanding. Continued success to Eddie.

Hilton Meadows
Diversified Environmental Planning
Jacksonville, Fla.

Re: "LAF: Putting the Green Back into Green Infrastructure" in the Sept. 2009 issue, online at

Thank you LAF for highlighting sustainable landscapes with the photos contrasting thetwo residential sites and for your Landscape Performance Studies program. As you mentioned in the article, promoting and practicing sustainable landscape design and practice is of the utmost importance now.

I have used native plants in my designs for residential, commercial, and public landscapes in the U.S. and Canada for over 10 years, as well as promoting sustainability and native plants in classes that I have taught at Ohio State University and Columbus State Community College in Ohio.

More recently the benefits are gaining greater acceptance and understood, not only from a lower maintenance standpoint, but also for the conservation and protection or our resources and environment. There still is a ways to go where native sustainable landscapes become more of the majority in all landscapes. Programs such as yours will help that happen.

Beth Richardson, ASLA
Designs With Nature
Powell, Ohio

Related Stories

November 20, 2019, 2:26 pm PDT

Website problems, report a bug.
Copyright © 2019 Landscape Communications Inc.
Privacy Policy