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Tallahassee Scientist: Lawns Thirstier Than Trees

University of Utah researcher Elizaveta Litvak used low-cost tree sensors for her groundbreaking study on water use in urban landscapes.
Elizaveta Litvak
/
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A new study published by the journal Water Resources Research casts a troubling light on the American fetish for an emerald green lawn. 

University of Utah researcher Elizaveta Litvak used low-cost tree sensors for her groundbreaking study on water use in urban landscapes.
Credit Elizaveta Litvak
/
The Florida Channel
University of Utah researcher Elizaveta Litvak used low-cost tree sensors for her groundbreaking study on water use in urban landscapes.

An intense look at urban landscapes in Los Angeles concluded that some 70 billion gallons of water a year is being lost to evaporation, largely because of over watering of lawns.

Tallahassee-based researcher and co-author Elizaveta Litvak says a decade of field research involving individual tree sensors and satellite data turned up countless surprises. 

“The most mind-blowing part was when we discovered that grass was using much more water than trees. Because first my studies were completely focused on trees.”

The study was backed by a grant from the National Science Foundation. Litvak works remotely for the University of Utah.

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Jim Ash is a reporter at WFSU-FM. A Miami native, he is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.