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Artificial grass 

Hints and tips on uses and some lesser known facts

The market for artificial grass is growing quickly. Driven by a combination of better manufacturing techniques combined with an increasing awareness of the longer term environmental and economic benefits. Originally it was limited to large sports clubs but now you are just as likely to see it on your neighbour’s garden.

The benefits really fall
into 3 distinct groups

artificial lawn

1. Lifestyle and ease of use. There is no doubt at all that in our busy lives time becomes more precious as we seek to juggle all our responsibilities. Mowing the lawn can take 2 to 3 hours out of your week and that is for a normal size garden. Artificial grass needs very little maintenance and can free up a lot of time. It is worth mentioning two distinct types of users who also find it very valuable:-

a. Older people who cannot physically mow their lawns.

b. Holiday home owners who are not always “on site” to look after their lawns.

2. Environmental issues. As our weather grows warmer there will be more pressure on restricting water usage. Hose pipe restrictions can really destroy a natural lawn, but artificial grass will not be affected. Another benefit from artificial grass is that it actively helps the environment. As well as substantially reducing water usage we also get -

man being sprayed by sprinkler whilst mowing lawn

a. No carbon emissions from petrol driven lawn mowers.

b. No fertilisers needed.

c. Pollution from water run off carrying chemicals into the drains is minimised.

3. Special circumstances. It always surprises people to know the varied circumstances when artificial grass can be beneficial. Here is a brief list:-

a. Dog runs. It can’t be dug up, its easy to clean and keep sterile and there will be no muddy paws. This makes it a favourite at dog kennels.

b. Swimming pools. Very useful as ground cover beyond the “splash back” area. No muddy areas to carry dust and dirt into the pool, no ruts from the sun loungers and stays green whatever the weather.

c. Roof gardens. If your roof is not strong enough to support a natural turf cover then artificial grass will fill in very nicely. It also means that you don’t need to worry about the grass clippings.

d. High wear and tear areas. Very often, especially with children, you can end up with parts of the garden where constant usage will not allow grass to grow properly and bald patches which can turn to mud cause real problems. Carefully laid artificial grass can blend in with surrounding features and help overcome this.

e. Event management. We have often seen artificial grass used when there are a going to be a lot of people in the garden. A good example would be if a marquee was planned.

Disadvantages of artificial grass.

In the American south, with their extreme weather conditions it can sometimes seem a little odd when you get the baked dry yard of one house right next to bright green of a neighbour who has laid artificial grass. Fortunately for the United Kingdom we have not yet had the extreme hot weather of Texas and Arizona!

Other disadvantages? Well to be honest there aren’t any. Price wise it can is usually less than paving or other artificial coverings and when you measure the investment over the life of the grass it can in fact work out cheaper than laying and maintaining natural turf.

Things you might not know about artificial grass

Some artificial grass needs an infill, this is usually sand or rubber crumb. If rubber is used then it has probably come from shredded car tyres! You can also buy artificial grass which doesn’t need an infill.

Artificial grass was originally designed for sports pitches and sold under the name of astro turf in the USA. The early versions were not very successful but more recent changes have resulted in artificial grass being adopted by very large sports clubs. In particular for their training pitches as the annual hours of pitch usage can be increased substantially.

You can now buy artificial grass cut like carpet tiles. This is often seen with coloured grass, for instance terracotta tiles. This allows you to have designer coloured pathways and surrounds.

In response to this article I received the following comments from Julie Fegan -

"One disadvantage of artificial grass is something called 'urban flooding'. The suggestion of using it like carpet tiles might overcome this, as it would allow drainage of rainwater between the 'tiles'. We already have huge problems with losing gardens to house building with the consequent concrete driveways, patios and decking. Without grass and trees to drink up the rain we get flooding! Look at the Severn and Thames people. That was a freak storm I realise, but farmers in Wales who got a lot of flooding cut their field size down and planted trees all along the edges and ergo, the flooding ceased."

As I felt this was a very valid point I thought I should contact the manufacturers for their comments.  I received a very prompt and positive response which is given below -

"Urban flooding is a valid point and especially with the floods during July. Basically there is a smaller area for the surface water to soak into so it tends to “flow” into the rivers and drains more quickly.

I can understand why your reader would think that artificial grass might be a problem, however what she probably doesn’t realize is that our grass is permeable. Basically there are rows of holes in the backing to allow the water to flow through.

Let me give one example of this. Artificial grass is increasingly used in professional dog kennels as it is relatively easy to clean and you don’t get the same problems with mud.

For instance see this page - https://www.buzzgrass.com/applications/dogs-and-pets/

But if the grass was not permeable then we would get a build up of urine and so on.

It could be that the rain water doesn’t soak in as quickly as through normal turf…I think that must be true, but except for the most extreme downpours I would suggest that it probably doesn’t make any difference."

This picture shows the holes being punched into the reverse side of their artificial grass.






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