Kirsten Botting, amateur gardener, local community champion, and Beautify Balham committee member discusses her pet hate – artificial grass.
Over the past decade the urban trend for artificial has been growing. Gardens have been dug up, ripped of their natural vegetation and replaced with plastic grass. Roof tops and balconies have been carpeted with it. Schools and nurseries, as well as sports pitches are using artificial grass.
I get it. Modern artificial grass has come a long way. It looks like real grass. It’s cheaper than having your garden turfed. In shady gardens you have a green lawn all year round. If you have dogs or kids, you don’t get the mud in the house. If you are unable or don’t have the time to maintain your garden, it would appear to be the perfect solution.
You don’t have to water it which some might say helps when we have a water shortage. But you still have to clear it of leaves and moss, so it isn’t exactly maintenance free. Fake grass doesn’t require feeding so arguably isn’t pouring chemicals into the soil.
Companies market their artificial grass as environmentally friendly because it’s recyclable or single use plastic! Fake grass might have the look and feel of natural turf, but it’s not grass – it’s fake.
Fake grass is not an eco-friendly alternative to natural grass. It blocks access to the biodiversity above and below the ground. Bees and birds can’t feed from it, and worms and bugs below the ground will be starved of food. Fake grass does nothing for the animals in our gardens.
Furthermore, it has no climate benefits at all. In fact, the processing of the plastic emits carbon and uses fossil fuels. And what about the micro plastics from the finished product?
On the other hand, real grass has real environmental benefits such as soaking up moisture, providing homes for insects and bugs, and food for birds. If maintaining it is a problem, let it grow into a meadow and mow a path through it! And what is more delightful than smelling a newly mown lawn, walking bare footed and feeling the coolness from the blades and the warmth from the soil?
So, I say, don’t fake it! Go natural!
Which side are you on in the turf war? Have you got a beautiful natural lawn to show off? Has your garden made others green with envy? Share your grassy feats on social media with the hashtag: #BeautifyBalham.