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Artificial Grass is Not an Alternative to a Real Lawn

Installing artificial grass is an option that many homeowners are considering today, given the difficulties involved in successful lawn maintenance. Nowhere is this trend more prominent than in Mediterranean and other dry climates, because of the excessive water use that growing a lawn involves.

Despite the relatively high cost of installation, the customer may be tempted by arguments that point to virtually zero ongoing expenditure in time, money, and water over the ensuing years. Synthetic grass companies can also legitimately claim that recent technological advances have greatly improved the quality of the premium products, well beyond the worn-carpet appearance of the artificial turf we knew and loathed just a few years back. In short, there are plausible arguments in favor of using artificial grass, but does it follow that an artificial lawn is a viable alternative to a real one?

A lawn’s architectural role is to provide a neat, green, and even ground plain. This, at least theoretically, can be matched by the best synthetic product. However, in its functional role for sitting, playing, and general use, grass putting green affects not only the visual senses, but those of smell and touch as well. Compare picnicking engulfed by the fresh smell of grass to the delightful fragrance of plastic! How is it that sports-persons playing on artificial turf tend to get burns after falling and sliding on the ground? Grass increases the volume of oxygen we breathe, while plastic burning in the hot sun, adds toxic vapors to the immediate vicinity. Which is preferable for your children?

In design terms, synthetic grass should be seen for what it is – namely fake grass. The fake is always inferior to the original, although sometimes, when a material is not pretending to be what it is not, it can be used to good effect. Hence, a path constructed from poured concrete can be a satisfactory and much cheaper alternative to ceramic tiles, or glass fiber containers, can look just as good as Terracotta pots. In both cases though, both the “fake” and the “natural” are artifacts that have undergone some synthetic process, whereas grass is comprised of live organisms, which no alternative material can replace.

As lawns are the biggest consumers of water next to annual flowers, gardeners in dry climates are desperately looking for ways to reduce water use without affecting the aesthetic and functional properties of the garden. This is best done by re-thinking the garden’s design – paved seating areas, water-conserving ground cover plants e.t.c. instead of the false notion that artificial grass can simply replace a real-live lawn. Synthetic turf may be a viable water saving option in certain municipal situations, such as in traffic circles and road islands, but it is rarely successful or satisfying in the home garden.

 

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