Home Environment and health Why you shouldn’t use artificial turf

Why you shouldn’t use artificial turf

Grass helps to drain away excess water
Grass helps to drain away excess water

Lawn expert David Hedges-Gower on the environmental dangers of fake grass

As regular readers will know, I don’t write about lawns because I don’t have one – it gave way to plants many years ago! However, for anyone tempted to replace their lawn with artificial turf, please take a moment and read this from lawn expert David Hedges-Gower. If you’re the least bit concerned about our planet’s future and global warming, it should make you think again.

With the shocking report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on climate change, and with the extreme recent weather we are experiencing such as flooding and heatwaves, it is becoming obvious that we are struggling to deal with our land’s decreasing capacity to cope with extreme rainfall.

That affects drains, roads, parks – not just rivers. One major cause is grass, the grass that is being dug up in our gardens, schools, sports pitches and public spaces and replaced with petrochemical replacements – fake grass.

Healthy living turf is a vital part of the land structure, with its ability to absorb water after torrential or sustained rain.

You’ve seen how some flooding strategies deliberately divert excess river water onto neighbouring fields to protect local housing?

Guest blog by lawn expert David Hedges-Gower. Picture; David Hedges-Gower
Lawn expert David Hedges-Gower. Picture; David Hedges-Gower

Designed to cope with extreme weather

Well, that water does eventually drain away – and the better kept the field, the faster that occurs. It’s because our ground is designed by the world’s finest engineer, nature, to cope with extreme weather.

It may take time, but it gets there in the end. It’s just the same with any land, garden included, that pools up in heavy rain.

Some people are still opting to use artificial grass in their gardens, but there is one big problem – fake grass, together with its matting and installation substrate, cannot percolate heavy rainwater as efficiently as natural turf.

But that’s not all. It also can’t:

  • Support the life cycles of fauna and flora.
  • It can’t absorb CO2 and other pollutants from the air we breathe. It can’t reduce the ambient temperature in hot summers by one or two degrees.
  • Fake grass does not even withstand flooding! Artificial football pitches have been washed away by floods in the past.
  • As it can’t be recycled, that’s yet more unnecessary and potentially toxic landfill.

Grass is one of the toughest plants on the planet. Even after flooding, it always comes back with a little TLC and quietly works away keeping us healthier and happier.

Cows flood
Threats of increased rainfall

Benefits of living green environments

There is some fantastic research proving the physical and mental health benefits of living green environments; there is none I know of that makes the same claim for sterile green plastic.

So, when we next see pictures on the news of people struggling with the worst imaginable experiences, let’s remember that everything in our environment is connected.

When your lawn looks the worse for wear in heavy rains, remember that it is still doing a vital job. It will look fantastic again – have faith in nature.

Every hour you spend looking after your lawn means you are playing a significant part in helping to maintain natural water-seepage underground, prevent some of this terrible flooding and maintain some kind of delicate biodiversity balance.

So should we be worried about our lawns?  Let’s remember two facts, one, grass is one of the most resilient plants and two, good lawn care is about working with not against nature.

For more information, visit www.davidhedges-gower.com.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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