Series: Lawn Options/Synthetic Grass

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Children in white linen frolicking with croquet mallets. Rolling meadows of close cropped fescues and sedges. Bucolic pastures dotted with sheep. I think these images are the inspiration for our approach to our yards – long stretches of green to give us the feeling we are To the Manor Born.

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Big Red Sun landscape.

Well, snap out of it! (That’s all Jane Austen, with an ‘e’.) We in Austin Texas don’t live in a temperate climate with gentle rain caressing a verdant landscape. So what are our options?

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Let’s look, starting today with synthetic grass. I saw so many varieties at the 2009 ASLA conference – they were very attractive (!), soft underfoot (yup, took my shoes off) and an interesting option for water strained Texas, with reservations.

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Costco sells it online for between $2.4o and $3.73 per sq. ft.

Why synthetic? Landscape/grass irrigation represents 60% of all water consumption so synthetic grass suppliers position it as ‘green’ because it doesn’t need water (although you do use water to clean it – just rinse). And since 50% of the city of Austin’s energy consumption is used to make water potable, and since most of us use city water to irrigate our lawns, we would also save serious energy by reducing irrigation.

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And fake grass doesn’t require mowing which is a HUGE source of carbon emissions: did you know that “one gas-powered lawn mower emits as many pollutants as 8 new vehicles driving 55mph for the same period of time”?

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But… Fake grass takes energy to make it, it cannot be recycled easily and it gets hot in the sun, potentially increasing the temperature of the microclimate around your home. And it’s dead – not part of the natural life cycle so no birds, no worms, no bugs. I’m not sure what happens to the precious biota in the soil with this synthetic cover over it – guess they die too?

Still, I think it’s an interesting option, all things taken into consideration, for small areas of your yard. I’d love to hear what you think about it! More lawn options next time…

~ Sue Lambe, ASLA

One Response to “Series: Lawn Options/Synthetic Grass”

  1. Chris says:

    Interesting, and certainly worth considering. I’m generally not a fan of synthetic, but I’ve had nightmare experiences with living lawn care in Texas… You mentioned rinsing; how often do you have to rinse and what is the purpose of rinsing?

    And on a more whimsical (and potentially frightening) note, what happens if someone accidentally mows your synthetic lawn?

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