It should come as no surprise to learn that at ALS Landscaping our mission is to provide you with the garden of your dreams. For some of you that will equate to low-maintenance options that may include using artificial grass. For others, it won’t.
In this series about Artificial Grass, we’ll provide you with the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (in line with current trends and information). Remember that knowledge is power. At the end of the day, the decision is yours to make. We pride ourselves on our honesty. We dare to be different because we’re the experts who won’t try to pull the wool over your head or the (artificial grass) rug from under your feet!
Hold on to your garden benches, this one is going to be contentious (without a capital C).
At this point and in answer to the overall question, “Is Artificial Grass BAD for the Environment” I really want to shout “Yeah, but no but” (quote from Vicky Pollard). Read on to find out why.
It’s certainly true that over the last few years there’s been a growing environmental argument against using fake grass. This blog will look at some of the issues. We’ll leave you to decide which side of the (garden) path you want to go down.
What is artificial grass, how is it made and what are the carbon emissions?
The clue’s in the name. Artificial grass, Astroturf, plastic grass, fake turf, and fake grass are all made from synthetic plastics. If you don’t get too close, it’s hard to tell the difference, other than it has a perfect, weed-free finish (unlike the real stuff). Think of it like a giant green plastic outdoor carpet; the plastic is woven before being backed onto an underlay or matting, then laid on top of compacted hardcore. It’s very low maintenance, colour-fast, tough, and child and pet friendly.
Manufacturing plastics used in artificial grass is a very energy-intensive process involving burning fossil fuels; at the time of writing, artificial grass is made from ‘virgin’ plastics and not recycled plastic. Plastic is an inert substance that can take up to 450 years to biodegrade and generally, artificial turf is made from Cat 4 which isn’t widely accepted by recycling centres. In plain English, that means it’s NOT the most environmentally friendly option you could choose.
Is Artificial Grass Environmentally Friendly?
On the face of it NO, it isn’t, if we focus entirely on the manufacturing process that is. However, there are some ways in which artificial turf is more environmentally friendly than the real stuff.
Artificial grass saves you, the gardener time. Homeowners with natural turf are painfully aware of the struggle of maintaining the perfect lush green lawn, it isn’t easy. Not only will it cost you hours of time spent weeding, watering, and mowing, but if you want the grass to stay green all year round, you have to figure in the cost and use of fertilisers and grass seed too. And it’s not just the cost of fertilisers, they too have an environmental impact that should be considered.
Breaking that down further, let’s look at the environmental impact of natural grass.
According to an article in the Guardian, The brilliance of brown lawns: why your grass shouldn’t always be greener (published in June 2021) the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) urged gardeners to stop using mains water in an attempt to keep lawns green, on the basis that mains water is tremendously bad for the environment. They stated that ‘watering our gardens is wasteful and mowing them a nightmare for biodiversity’. Further, by mowing the grass you’re disturbing it and increasing the likelihood of pest and weed invasions.
Artificial grass will stay green for many years. It doesn’t need watering (saving time and helping the environment) nor does it need fertilizing. You won’t need to introduce additional chemicals into the soil. No chemicals = a much safer environment for your children and your pets.
Real turf is a natural product. It can provide a habitat for wildlife and help with biodiversity, it absorbs rainfall, and if you leave it to its own devices, it’s great for the environment. Once you start to ‘tame’ this robust beast by watering, fertilising, and mowing it though, that’s when you start to reduce the positive environmental benefits. If you want a year-round ‘manicured’ lawn look, our advice is to look at the alternatives.
Artificial grass looks great all year round, is low maintenance and the design possibilities are endless. It’s available in every shade of green that you can imagine, comes in a variety of ‘pile’ lengths (depending on customer requirements) and nowadays you can even get some tiny amounts of fake ‘dead’ grass in it to make it look even more realistic. Artificial grass is still proving to be a popular choice for those who want a quick and easy lawn solution.
Evergreens UK are committed to reducing plastic waste sent to landfill and are launching circular single polymer products in their LimeGreen® ONE-DNA™ range into the UK’s artificial grass marketplace. This is a significant milestone in the journey to circularity in artificial grass, and one which is again pioneered by the Group who have been leading the way in product development in the landscaping field for over 35 years.
Rocking the market and product perceptions, and made from just one single raw material, the new ONE-DNA™ formula has a significantly lower carbon footprint, using less energy in production and moving towards the ultimate 100% recyclability goal when cleaned at ‘end of life’. A single polymer means a single recycling method at a single recycling facility, using less energy. Its unique formulation means clean single DNA lawns in the future, could be recycled at local facilities, and reused as high value artificial grass or similar value products, time and time again. Any cut waste from the new installation can go straight back to the manufacturer to be recycled and reused afresh.
Its launch makes an important statement and is a conversation starter for those in the development, manufacture, supply, installation, and recycling of artificial grass.
At ALS we want you to be happy with your outdoor space. We can supply and fit either artificial grass or turf. The decision is yours! Contact us today to book in for a site visit.