Artificial Grass – Environmental Pros and Cons After a year of exceptionally dry weather, parts of England are at risk of water shortages this summer. Recent seasons have been drier than usual with Autumn 2017 seeing 63% less rain than normal in south east England. With water shortages and hosepipe bans, it is increasingly difficult to keep the
After a year of exceptionally dry weather, parts of England are at risk of water shortages this summer. Recent seasons have been drier than usual with Autumn 2017 seeing 63% less rain than normal in south east England. With water shortages and hosepipe bans, it is increasingly difficult to keep the lawn green and lush and moving to artificial grass seems an attractive option. But what is the environmental impact of replacing grass with an artificial alternative!
Urban Water Usage
Watering the lawn with a hosepipe can use up to 1000 litres of water an hour compared to 90 litres to run a bath or 80 liters per load of washing in the machine. One of the main advantages of artificial grass is that it does not need to be watered, which in turn reduces urban water usage. But the issue is more complex. Without the roots from real grass to absorb rainwater, artificial turf may lead to excessive water runoff. Furthermore, artificial lawns heat up during sunny days often needing water to cool them down so that they can be walked on. It has been suggested that a more environmentally friendly alternative may be to use native plants and mulch in place of grass.
Manufacturing, transporting and installing artificial grass creates carbon emissions and has an environmental cost. Moreover, if the land is not flat when the lawn is laid then machinery is needed to level the ground which also increases emissions. On the other hand, installing an artificial lawn cuts down on household pollution from regularly mowing and trimming the lawn using machines powered by petrol and diesel. Given that an artificial lawn is expected to last around 20 years, the impact of not using petrol fueled mowers is considerable.
Chemicals And Fertilizers
In recent years, concerns have been raised about the chemicals contained in artificial grass. Crumb rubber, made from recycled tyres, is part of many artificial lawns and is used to keep the grass upright and to provide extra padding. However, studies have shown that the levels of these chemicals are not linked to any health problems. In fact, installing artificial turf reduces the use of lawn fertilisers used to keep natural lawns looking green and healthy and reduces the amount of harmful chemicals making their way into the water system.
Reuse And Recycle
Artificial grass is often made using recycled materials such as plastic bottles and used tyres. However, once an artificial lawn is past its best it can be difficult to recycle, making it a less sustainable option than real grass. It is possible to recycle artificial turf but the sand and rubber first need removing and the plastic carpet needs to be separated so it can be recycled.
Artificial lawns are becoming increasingly popular in the United Kingdom. As far as the environment is concerned, artificial grass uses less water, needs less mowing and fertilizers and is often made from recycled material. However, removing natural lawns may affect how water is absorbed, there is an impact on the environment during the manufacturing, transporting and fitting process of artificial turf and, despite a long life, it is hard to recycle once worn out.
We think that this short video gives good ideas for incorporating water features into your garden