Wonderlawn director, Mel Wright, explains some of the developments that have been made in the production and performance of artificial grass…
Ten years ago, artificial grass was considered to be the bad haircut of the gardening world. Now, it is a completely different and dramatically improved product – the difference between artificial and natural now compete on a level playing field. In many areas, synthetic lawns outperform natural grass; in other ways, they come second.
It depends what you want from your lawn. A luscious lawn you can use all year round takes you in one direction; a luscious lawn you can mow takes you in the other. It is worth discovering some of the surprising new things that artificial grass provides. Just like natural grass, there are good and bad artificial grasses; some people sell virtually the same product they sold a decade ago. I am going to concentrate on the modern grasses that good companies sell.
Originally, the best thing you could say about artificial grass was that it was green, and it stayed green no matter what. It felt harsh and plastic and trampled flat after it had been walked over a couple of times.
Today, some of the latest grasses feel soft and natural; they look flawlessly real, even from only a few feet away. In fact, perhaps the easiest way to tell the difference between natural and synthetic is that artificial grass always looks smart – year after year, summer, winter, autumn and spring – no matter what the British weather –or hosepipe bans – throw at them.
Artificial grass is far harder wearing than its natural counterpart – it stands up to many thousands of hours of continuous testing by football boots and it looks good for years even after its natural counterpart would turn bald or develop into a desolate wasteland or muddy bog.
Most people seem to feel that cutting the grass is a chore. We have enough to do without needing to mow the lawn every week as well. Not to mention all the watering, edging, feeding, weeding or scarifying it needs. It was a chore that we had to put up with. With a modern, synthetic lawn you get the same pleasures without the work, they become a place for playing with the kids or enjoying a summer Pimms and BBQ while you entertain your friends. Gardens become a hobby again.
Aside from virtually eliminating any need for maintenance, artificial lawns never get muddy or churned up. You even get a perfect lawn in dank or difficult shady areas and under trees, which is not possible with natural lawns.
Artificial lawns have no bald patches, no weeds, no mossy areas and they don’t turn into a quagmire after a heavy shower of rain – or even after a month of rain for that matter. There’s no mowing, no mess, no fuss and you can play or wander over them throughout the winter without traipsing mud back into the house.
The design and installation of artificial lawns reached a turning point a few years ago when they first began to look natural and feel soft. Since that time, the market has exploded with a 30% year-on-year growth.
Some modern grass is even designed for houses with pets (though as some isn’t, you need to check with your supplier). The traditional problem with pets is that they pee and make a mess on the lawn and this makes it smell. However, you can now use a natural organic infill material that absorbs the smell by trapping any bacterial ammonia until it is released by the next shower of rain, when it runs away into the ground leaving the infill revitalised and ready to do its job again. Artificial grass makes it easier to clear up dog poop as well.
But don’t all these big advantages come at a financial cost? Yes and no. It is undeniably more expensive to install an artificial lawn, but if you take into account all the time, effort and costs you spend maintaining natural grass, then there is a good chance you come out a winner here too. In fact, it was the cost savings with artificial grass that convinced so many of the big American sports pitches to install them. It was an added benefit that they play well and reduce the number of twisted ankles as well.
For me, the big difference doesn’t lie so much in the cutting-edge advantages of artificial grass, but more in the time it gives me to enjoy the garden again. But perhaps I am just a little love-lawn over it…
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