There’s a new feature popping up in the gardens of Dorset and Hampshire. Artificial Turf. Personally, I’m not a fan of plastic anywhere in the garden (not even my lawnmower is plastic). However, as a writer/blogger who loves to buy local and use natural products, I’ll try to moderate my opinions and take a look at the pros and cons of using artificial grass vs real life turf.
In defence of plastic grass
It’s convenient, it’s low maintenance, it doesn’t need feeding, and it’s a nice even colour. You can choose the shade of green you want. You can even choose the length and texture of the sward. It doesn’t need soil to root into, it’s not prone to diseases. The dog won’t dig it up. You can park your car on it.
A piece of artificial turf.
The good things about a real lawn
It will pump oxygen into the air for you to breath.
It smells amazing after mowing
It drains naturally – allowing water to filter into the soil
It’s soft to sit on and stays cool on hot days
If your children fall over, they’ll have a soft landing and no carpet-burn
It cleans itself – no need for hoovering or detergents
If you want to change the design of your garden, it’s easy to re-shape a natural lawn
You choose how long or short you want the sward to be – and you can change your mind at any time.
It’s versatile. If you have a natural lawn, you can underplant it with spring bulbs, allow wild flowers to grow in it for the bees, let your pet rabbit graze it (I let my chickens onto the lawn and their eggs taste amazing because of it)
You get clippings that can be turned into home-made compost. Cheaper than the garden centre stuff and ideal for mulching round fruit, flowers and vegetables.
Real turf, freshly cut and ready to lay. That green sward looks very “touchable”
Why I don’t like artificial turf.
Gardens should be for nature.
Artificial turf is oil-based (I think). As the world is running out of oil, it seems a bit daft to waste it on making fake grass. Nature grows grass very well indeed in this country. And nature’s grass doesn’t take centuries to biodegrade if it’s taken out of the garden and thrown away.
It makes me feel hot and sticky and itchy when I sit on it on a summer’s day.
What if the dog poops on it or the children drop picnic crumbs on it? With no soil bacteria to recycle things like that, do they just sit there and rot? Or do I have to hoover? If I’m hoovering it I may as well be mowing it.
It doesn’t last for ever. Like most man-made things it doesn’t regenerate, is difficult to repair and so at some point it will end up being replaced. Real lawns get replaced sometimes too – but the old lawn can be returned to the soil – plastic can’t.
Much of the artificial turf in this country has been imported from the Far East. That gives it a huge carbon footprint and what’s more – it doesn’t do ever so much for the British economy either.
Disadvantages of natural lawns
Yes, believe it or not there are some – but they are only really about convenience – and I think they are easily overcome.
Real lawns need to be tended. Mowing, feeding, aerating, scarifying and occasionally weeding. To me, that’s no big deal. I actually like mowing the lawn. It’s almost meditative and the smell…..oh how I love the smell of new mown grass!
If I were unable to mow it myself, I’m in no doubt that I would be able to find someone who would help out in return for a modest fee.
Aerating isn’t too much of a problem for me either. It’s a once a year job and if I miss it – well it’s not the end of the world.
Feeding? Again, it’s not hard work, it’s just a matter of finding half an hour to do it. The feed is readily available (I like the specialist stuff from Wimborne Turf because it’s not been massed produced by some global chemical manufacturer), and it works. It keeps the lawn looking lush, green and healthy.
Scarifying? I’m not physically up to that job any more, even if I hire a machine it hurts my poorly neck. So I have a local landscaper help out with that. It doesn’t cost much (a few quid and a cup of tea) and he’s done in no time.
What will you have in your garden? Real turf or a pretend lawn?
If you are thinking of replacing your lawn and you’re wondering whether to choose artificial or real, don’t make your decision until you’ve had quotes both products and looked into what’s needed to lay them properly. Poorly installed artificial grass looks nasty, doesn’t last and in some cases can cause trip hazards.
Wimborne Turf offer turf for you to lay yourself – and they’ll talk you through the whole process. OR they will come and lay your new, natural lawn for you. It’s grown in Dorset in the UK by a family-run business who employ local people to help them. Better for the environment, better for the economy and ultimately, better for you