Artificial Turf Is Not The Better Solution To Natural Grass
First, artificial turf gets hot. There are a few things you can do to try and bring the temperature down, but your two main options are covering it with a tarp, which kind of eliminates the aesthetic benefits of artificial turf or watering it to cool it off, which… well… yeah. And even using these measures, researchers at the Pennsylvania State University weren’t even able to keep the artificial turf cool for the length of a standard sports game. (1) (As if the kids needed another excuse to hide in the house with the lights and air conditioner on!)
Next, some say that artificial turf is better because you don’t have to use pesticides or fertilizer on it like you do with a natural turf lawn. While the second is certainly true- plastic doesn’t need help growing- the first isn’t. Many people don’t realize it, but artificial turf not only needs pesticides, but it also needs disinfectants. While bodily fluids, like blood, sweat, spit, mess from your pet (or your neighbours’ pets), etc. will wash away with natural turf, the same is not true of artificial turf. It will still be there. (2) Is that really something you want your kids playing on?
The fact of the matter is, if you’re concerned about the environment, you need to consider the following: “2,500 square feet of living, growing grass plants (i.e. natural turf) releases enough oxygen for a family of four for a year. Grass absorbs carbon dioxide, helping to reduce global warming.” (3) On the other hand, artificial turf only has a life expectancy of about decade at best (4), and after that, it has to be removed and disposed of. One more thing to go in the landfill…
After the spring showers are over and we get into the high and dry summer, your lawn is going to look dry. That’s actually perfectly normal. It looks a lot worse than it actually is.
One of the best ways to protect your lawn from drought it to help foster a strong and deep root system. Fertilizing and aerating your lawn are both good ideas, but not in the spring or summer. These should be done in the fall.
When it comes to mowing your lawn, make sure your lawn mower blades are nice and sharp. You want to cut the grass, not tear it, because tearing causes stress on the grass and it will use more water (40 to 60 per cent!) trying to recover. Also, be sure not to cut your lawn too short. Taller blades of grass will mean that your turf to develop a stronger, healthier root system. And while it might not look as pretty for a day or two, leave the clippings on your lawn. They will help your lawn retain moisture and get additional nutrients to boot.
Finally, make sure you’re watering in the cooler hours of the day to avoid your water evaporating before it has a chance to hit the lawn and don’t over-water. Even if your municipality declares a watering ban, your lawn should come out alright in the end; some varieties of grass can survive as much as a month without watering, which means you can be a good, law-abiding citizen and not have to sacrifice your lawn in the long run. (5)
(1) “Human health issues on synthetic turf in the USA,” study published by Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Pennsylvania State University, January 2011. http://pip.sagepub.com/content/225/3/139
(2) “Natural Grass and Artificial Turf: Separating Myths and Facts,” published by the Turfgrass Resource Center. http://www.turfgrasssod.org/trc/index.html
(3) “Features and Benefits of Natural Grass Sports Fields,” published by Red Hen Turf Farm. http://www.redhenturf.com/Sport_featuresBenefitsNatural.htm
(4) “How taxpayers get fooled on the cost of an artificial turf field,” by Mike Ozanian, published September 2014. http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikeozanian/2014/09/28/how-taxpayers-get-fooled-on-the-cost-of-an-artificial-turf-field/
(5) “Lawn Care Tips Save Water During Drought,” by Mary Jane Frogge, 2011. http://lancaster.unl.edu/hort/articles/2002/drought.shtml