Plant roots DO matter. Some, like turf grass are short. Some, like perennial wildflowers and grasses, shrubs and trees go deep. The deeper rooted plants break open compacted soil and allow for water to filter down into the earth. In heavy rains water falling on compacted turf grass (lawns) flows across the surface, and picks up pollutants along the way - and often heads to the nearest waterbody, or the lowest point on the property. If water falls upon deep rooted plants and perennial gardens it will be slowed and filter down - taking pollutants with it. Check out this root schematic. Note grass (turf) is on the far left (with barely visible roots).
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