How near is the end?

The end of lawns as we know them.

I'm violating a self-imposed blog vacation to bring you a link from MSNBC about fake lawns sent to me by Margaret. They give lip service to native plant lawns, but it's mostly about astroturf (one woman spent $10k on hers! Amazing.) and clashes with city ordinances requiring green lawns.

Some cities are weighing whether to lift bans on artificial turf that date back to the days when phony grass looked like fluorescent plastic. A few communities are also encouraging the use of native plants once derided as shaggy weeds.

Advocates of natural alternatives are not sold on fake grass, saying it's a petroleum product that can heat up too much in the region's searing summer weather and can harbor germs.

"This is just like putting a carpet outside," said Betsey Landis with the California Native Plant Society in Los Angeles.

Some water districts are offering customers $1 rebates for each square foot of lawn they remove and 30 cents per square foot of fake grass they install.

I absolutely hate the idea of fake grass for home use. Keep it on the playing fields, I say.

It ends with the following paragraph:

How near is the end?

John Rossi, general manager at Western Municipal Water District, which services cities including Riverside, Corona and Temecula, agrees that the end is near for the traditional lawn.His district recently adopted the slogan "redefining green" — meaning planting water-efficient gardens, not necessarily green ones. Rossi said he tried to sell the concept of "brown is beautiful" with little success.When it comes to the disappearance of real lawns, Rossi said, "the only question is the time frame. When we talk about 8 million more people coming into California in the next 20 years and there's no new water supply, it's not a matter of if, but when."

One can only hope.


  1. Sorry to disturb your no-blogging holiday but I had to comment...

    I'm trying to talk my neighbor out of doing the fake lawn thing. He's on board with the no-water thing, but is also pretty fixated on how a yard needs to look. I've suggested some low- to no-water-use groundcovers. I hope he comes around...

    It's just a matter of time as your post suggests before most people realize current water use can't be sustained. But what they choose instead needs to be worked on as well.

  2. I installed 150 sq ft of fake grass and paid almost $2000. It was the brand w/o lead, which costs a lot more.

    It is not too hot in the summer, mainly b/c the beach cities doesn't get much sun in the summer. ;-)

    We use the backyard a lot more than when we had the groundcover that needed weeding (hours and hours of backbreaking work), watering, replanting... We tried to grow a lawn alternative groundcover, we really did. We just couldn't keep up with the weeding.

    It really helped with my allergies, my arthritis and piece of mind.

  3. lostlandscape - I agree we're in a period of transition between lawns and some unknown future of groundcover.

    badmomgoodmom - I was thinking of you when I wrote and wondering if you'd had a change of heart. I'm glad that you're still happy with your fake grass. I might have gone for some sort of permeable hardscape if I were in your position. Maintenance is definitely higher with plants than without.

  4. lostlandscape,

    I do hope you succeed in talking your neighbor out of the fake lawn. Often times people do get caught up on just how a yard 'should' look.

    An exciting thing is happening in my neighborhood here in SoCal. Three years ago my neighbor landscaped all succulents...not my first choice of a yard, but I must say I love it. Two years ago my next door neighbor and I both ripped out our front yards and planted native plants and flowers. Shortly thereafter her next door neighbor ripped out his yard in favor of succulents. Last week I found out my neighbor across the street is going to rip out his yard in favor of natives and succulents.

    If an example is set, then people will follow. I know in my case when I am out in my front yard, dog walkers always stop to ask questions about my yard. The most common question? "Where can I buy those plants?"

    I know there will always be neighbors who loathe to give up their green lawns (my other neighbor across the street just installed a new lawn. Groan.) and English gardens, but I truly believe in time they will be in the minority.

  5. In my 700 sf patio/yard, I have about 300 sf of permeable hardscape (sandstone set in DG), a veggie bed in the sunniest place, a fountain in the middle, and 150 sf of high end lead-free fake grass. The rest are ornamentals and trees--including a Meyer lemon planted before we laid the fake grass carefully around it's stem.

    My daughter and I enjoy lying on the fake grass and staring at the changing sky. She does yoga and tae kwon do on it. She and her friends set a table and chairs on it sometimes for tea parties. I don't think we would enjoy lying on the hardscape.