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Is Faux Grass Going Mainstream?

by Alex Russel, All About Lawns Columnist

The debate has been raging since the 1960's: real or fake grass? Which is the better option and why?

The argument began in 1966 with the opening of the Astrodome in Houston, with its infamous Astroturf. fake grass lovers saw this as a promise of a world where homeowners no longer had to worry about brown patches, fertilizer, and imminent cinch bug infestations.
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Lawn Grass Wars

To real grass lovers, Astroturf was as desirable as Armageddon. It was ecologically harmful, they said, and if there was any benefit at all, it was only its ability to withstand trampling sports cleats in professional football games.

"That's one hurdle we've had to overcome,'' said Chris Doherty, spokesman for SYNLawn, a synthetic lawn installation company in Orlando, Fla. And perhaps they have. People are starting to warm up to installing fake grass in their yards, say industry observers. Companies that previously limited their sales to fake putting greens and sports fields are beginning to sell fake lawn grass for your home and garden.

Astroturf For Your Home

Nowadays, writes the Newhouse News Service, Astroturf also sells AstroLawn. And there are other fake-grass companies such as Waterless Grass and Forever Lawn and ProGreen -- more than 20 firms, according to the Synthetic Turf Council in Dalton, Ga.

Fans of artificial grass say there's no mowing, watering or fertilizers. And the lawn may last 15 years. Maintenance is more like dealing with a carpet or a head of hair. Fake grass needs fluffing with a rake, vacuuming, and spraying for occasional weeds at the edges.

Opponents are disheartened at this surge in fake lawn grass interest. "People don't think about lawns as ecosystems, but they are,'' said Peter J. Landschoot, professor of turfgrass science at Penn State's Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. "There's microbial activity, as well as bird life and small mammals. What about squirrels, where will they bury their nuts?''

Synthetic Lawn Grass Is Expensive

Synthetic grass still isn't cheap. At $6 to $8 a square foot, a fake lawn is often several times more expensive to install than living grass. But the synthetic boosters say that the investment is made back in the long term: No replanting, fertilization, and lawn mowing is necessary.


About the Author
Alex Russel is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Since graduating from Syracuse University he has worked at many different media companies in fields as diverse as film, TV, advertising, and journalism. He holds a dual bachelor's degree in English and History.

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