Everyday Gardeners

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Great Fakes

A CBS affiliate (KCAL) in Southern California reported today that the city of Glendale has banned artificial grass.

If you’re like me, the first thought you had after seeing that was: They banned it because it’s tacky.

Not so fast. The reason given (according to KCAL) by city officials? Harmful chemicals used in the artificial turf. There’s more than a little irony in that. California is known for its greater-than-average concern over environmental pollutants. Which is why the anti-lawn/lawn chemical movement is particularly strong there. So you’d think a substitute for lawns, one that didn’t require all the fertilizers and weed killers, would be welcomed.

Interestingly, artificial turf is only banned in Glendale’s front yards, not backyards.  Which brings us back to Reason #1.

I have mixed feelings about artificial turf. I love real lawn, and couldn’t dream of not having at least a small patch of it to run around on. But it does take work, and it does consume resources. Artificial turf doesn’t. So I understand the appeal, or outright necessity, for some people. And the new versions available now are not the weird, yucky looking stuff of the 1970s (which still taints the whole concept, I think). Artificial turf can be quite realistic—from a distance, the giveaway is only that it’s too uniform, too perfect. Frankly, I thought it would have caught on more by now, given the greater push for water-stingy landscapes and more eco-friendly living.

I guess it’s the power of the fake = tacky mindset.  Somehow it’s not honest. Or something. Like toupees, to which artificial lawns are sometimes compared. (There’s even a company called Toupee Lawns, in Tuscon.) But by the standards used to judge real turf, artificial lawn looks great. It’s uniform, it’s green, it’s tidy-looking. It’s also extremely practical, not to mention eco-friendly. But it’s been labeled as tacky in our collective mindset, and that’s a tough reputation to shake. Too bad. The lawn in the photo below is fake. How upset would you be living next to that?






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