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  • Writer's pictureJefferson Landscape

Artificial Lawns May Not Be a Great Idea

There are several environmental concerns associated with artificial lawns including the loss soil microbes, wildlife habitat, contaminated runoff and migration of synthetic materials. By creating a dense plastic barrier on top of compacted soil and sand, no garden material can reach the soil beneath it. Artificial lawn kills the biome beneath it: the soil can't absorb carbon dioxide or water. Along with nitrogen and oxygen, carbon is one of the essential building blocks of all organic life. Things like leaf litter and grass clippings are natural materials essential for feeding soil organisms like worms and microscopic animals that keep soil healthy

Soil depends on healthy microbes, which survive on organic carbon compounds and nitrogen for growth. Carbon is critical to microbial health. With dead soils, no microbes, no worms, no birds…you get the picture. Over time, there will be nothing beneath fake grass for most soil life to survive.

Contaminants harmful to aquatic life have been found in storm water runoff from artificial turf. Chemicals are often found in the synthetic materials used in artificial turf. In particular, recycled tire materials used as infill to hold artificial grass in place and to provide cushioning. Recycled tires contain a wide variety of chemicals including metals, such as lead, zinc and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some chemicals found in recycled tires are known carcinogens and suspected to be associated with other health effects. Both infill particles and broken synthetic grass fibers can migrate away from yards or playing fields, contributing to microplastic pollution.

It is important people understand exactly why artificial lawns are bad for the environment and not great for us, that we make informed decisions. Choosing natural grass can help reduce your expose to chemicals of concern and potential health concerns associated with exposure. Artificial lawn poses a number of health and environmental concerns. From an environmental and health standpoint, organically managed natural grass is a safer choice for lawns and sports fields.

Below is a partial list of some of the concerns listed, as well as some others.

1) Artificial lawn uses huge volumes of plastic

2) Plastic grass can’t or won’t be recycled

3) Pieces of plastic grass will pollute soils for centuries

4) Astro turf has a big carbon foot print from manufacture, transport and installation

5) Fake lawns look awful after only a few years

6) Astro turf kills soil life beneath it

7) Plastic deprives people from contact with a natural surface

8) Fake lawns have no wildlife benefit whatsoever

9) Plastic lawns never sit naturally in any environment

10) Plastic lawns can overheat in summer making them unusable

11) Fake lawns need cleaning and maintaining

12) Some fake lawns can give friction burns

If the drought is a concern you have, and why you are considering artificial lawn, consider a smaller natural lawn limited to one watering zone and drip irrigation for your plantings. Your landscape’s biodiversity will be much healthier.

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