• Helen Mulligan

#TimeForTurf Artificial Grass Campaign What is the true cost?

Updated: Feb 16

I have long had a strong view on the use of artificial grass as it goes against everything I believe in; however, I always try to research as much as possible to ensure I have considered every aspect before making judgements. Thankfully the lovely people at the Landscape Circle have put together a very informative report explaining perfectly some of the many issues with artificial grass, most of which that are not mentioned at the point of sale. Below I have highlighted some of key points raised in the report.

But aren't artificial lawns low maintenance?

Unfortunately, not! when I come across a client that has had artificial grass laid, most admit that it’s ended up being more work than they were initially led to believe. Organic matter such as leaves, and debris will build up on the surface of the lawn and with nowhere go it needs to be swept regularly. Some people even resort to vacuuming their 'lawn'

With a natural lawn worms will drag the organic matter such as leaves down and feed the soil, if left on artificial grass this becomes a perfect bed for weeds to grown on, so you end up having to weed your lawn!

If you have pets, their faeces will need to be scraped off and their urine makes fake lawns stink unless it is hosed off or artificial lawn scent is applied. Yes, really you can buy artificial lawn scent...! Awhile back a client was adamant that they wanted artificial lawn laid as their current lawn got too muddy in winter with 2 large dogs. I tried to explain that they would be swapping one small seasonal problem for many other worse issues if they went down that route. They were not convinced as the artificial turf supplier had an answer for everything and went ahead. That summer temperatures hit 33C in London where we live, I can only image the smell... Which brings me onto another issue:

This is the temperature difference between artificial grass in shade and sun compared to real grass. If you have kids, I have two words - 'carpet burns' Anyone who has ever fallen over on artificial grass can tell you that the burns and grazes are extremely painful and the burns in the temperatures described in this image could be very serious, this goes for any pets too.

Artificial lawns eco-friendly, aren't they?

Research from the report concluded no! In fact, it goes on to state that this is the biggest lie of all!

The true is that most artificial grass is non-recyclable as it is made up of a mixture of difference plastics, sand and rubber. While plastic on its own can be recycled, it’s very difficult to separate it from the non-recyclable bits. Some grasses claim to be recyclable but to date there are no manufacturing plants in the UK that can do this. As with all the plastic we produce, it just gets shipped off to third world countries. Here is a quote from an actual artificial grass company (reference's 8 & 9 in report link below)

'It is inevitable that large amounts of material destined for landfill will pile up every year, however, not only is this bad for the environment, but it can also be extremely expensive'.

As it ages, plastic grass (particularly the individual blades) will start to degrade and shed microplastics into the soil and then via watercourses into the ocean, damaging both saline and our own endocrine system. Microplastics in water have been shown to increase obesity and decrease fertility in humans

Isn't it cheaper in the long run as it’s a one-off purchase?

The average lifespan is 7 - 10 years so you will need to replace it many times in one generation, and don't forget that it can't be recycled so you will be contributing to landfill or incineration pollution. So in conclusion there is no long-term saving, and the environment and biodiversity are paying the price, plus if you have pets and children it can get pretty stinky and even harm them. Are you happy to make that sacrifice?

I hope this article has given you some food for thought, read the full report which has many more facts about the true cost of artificial grass by clicking on the button below >>

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