Sustainable Sac: Your Lawn

artificial lawn

Dirt-dusted vehicles are trendy this summer—they can be a point of pride among those of us who are taking the latest drought seriously enough to let go of our desire to drive around in sparkly splendor.

To refrain merely from washing the car does not a drought-busting hero make, however. Shutting off the faucet occasionally as you wash dishes, taking shorter (if not fewer) showers and certainly never baths, observing the “if it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down” policy, waiting another year on installing a pool or being disciplined about covering the pool you have when it’s not in use, in order to reduce evaporation—those actions all buy you some drought-busting cred.

You also could consider watering your yard less. Brown is the new green, and all that.

You might even think about replacing your water-gulping lawn with artificial turf. Personally, I would discourage you from taking that drastic step. Before I share my reasoning, though, let us consider the fake stuff’s advantages.

The website Gardenista points out that turf has “a reputation for being eco-friendly because it doesn’t need water, fertilizer, or to be mowed. Plus, the newest generation of artificial grass often looks good enough to fool us into thinking it’s real.”

Although costly (up to $25 a square foot, which for an 800-square-foot lawn would total $20,000), artificial turf does make some economic sense over the long haul in that you won’t need to own, fuel up and maintain a lawnmower or pay a landscaping service. It should last for at least 15 years, possibly a quarter-century. And as the Gardenista article suggests, many people like its appearance. “It looks great all the time,” a San Francisco architect enthuses.

lawn care

The website concedes that artificial turf “is a petroleum-based product that creates pollution and waste in the manufacturing process. And, while it is often made partially with recycled materials, it is not biodegradable.”

Which brings me to my opinion, which you can weed-whack away or douse with Roundup if it doesn’t tickle your outdoor-stepping bare feet and toes. I think that the deadness of artificial turf, the plasticky, summertime scorchy nature of it, messes with nature. It deprives little creatures a place to roam, graze, explore, burrow into—any number of things that they can do on real grass.

You might be bugged by insects, but they serve a purpose that helps make your surroundings more genuine. Small mammals such as squirrels serve that purpose, too.

As for your real grass’s watering needs, listen to what the Sacramento Suburban Water District advises. If your residential street-address number ends with an odd number, water only on Tuesdays, Thursdays or Saturdays. For those of you on the even side of the street, unroll the hose only on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Watering between noon and 8 p.m. any day is prohibited through Aug. 31, as it is between noon and 6 p.m. starting Sept. 1 through April 2022.

The SSWD can help you identify leaks and other problematical usage with a water-wise house call, if you fill out an online form.

So if our neighbor decides to install artificial turf, sure, the grass will be greener on the other side of the fence. I, however, will not be the least bit envious.