Blades of Glory: Fake Grass Is Eco?

Leslie Garrett by Leslie Garrett | July 9th, 2009 | 5 Comments
topic: Green Living


I always thought that a simple equation for living green was thus: Fake = bad; real = good. For example, fake food (Twinkies), bad; real food (apples), good. Simple, right? Turns out … not so much.

Friends from Northern California recently announced that they were installing fake grass at their new home. I was aghast. While my East Coast sensibility chalked it up to some “California” thing, I nonetheless tried to steer them away from what I assumed was the purchase of a petroleum-based product masquerading as Mother Nature’s own lush green carpet.

But my friends were convinced of not only the aesthetic appeal of their faux grass (check out the look of the artificial turf in the photo above), but also the eco-friendliness of it.


Perplexed, I did a little digging. And what I unearthed has turned this treehugger into a … well … a treehugger who just might hug fake trees, too.

Turns out our lawns — even our occasionally yellowish-brown organically grown lawns, take their toll on Mother Earth’s resources. And those of us (well, not me) who rely on sprinkler systems and (gasp!) fertilizers and pesticides create lawn disorder that makes Mother Nature blanch.

What’s not green about grass?

  1. Lawns are the single most irrigated crop in America, requiring three times more water than corn crops. (And we all know how ubiquitous corn has become!)
  2. While lawns do absorb CO2, scientists say it’s not enough to offset the amount of water grass gulps annually — close to 22,000 gallons per lawn.
  3. All this water has the intended effect of making the grass grow. Which means it requires cutting. Most of us rely on standard two-stroke gas lawn mowers, which — get this! — release the same amount of air pollutants in one hour as driving a car 375 miles. Multiply that by the 54 million Americans that are estimated to be mowing their lawns this weekend and, if you’re the Environmental Protection Agency, you’ll come up with a figure that holds these mowers responsible for roughly 5 percent of the nation’s air pollution. That’s a whole lotta dirty air.

Still, the manufacture of artificial turf must surely wreak eco-havoc of its own, insists my fake = bad mindset.

Well, yes. But these lawns will last anywhere from 15 years to 30 years. With no water or mowing.

Fake grass’s green-ness depends partly on which blades you switch to

Most artificial turf is made of polyethylene — which isn’t necessarily “good” but is better than alternatives. It doesn’t contain heavy metals like synthetic lawns made with rubber tire pellets do, and it’s more recyclable than fake grass made with polypropylene. Some companies offer free polyethylene grass recycling, should you ever part ways with your plastic lawn. (Check out Earth911’s finder tools for hard-to-recycle items.)

Of course I still find myself musing, “But it’s … fake!” As in UN-natural! But fake, it seems, is the new green on the block. Just think! No grass stains to challenge my eco-friendly detergent. No grubs to taunt my natural pesticides. No mowing.

I’ve certainly had my eco-predilections challenged … though, for now at least, I think I’ll stick with the real thing. Maybe I’ll get a push mower


  1. I have heard about this “grass”. I thought the same exact thing you did at first, I was stunned. Then after doing research, I read that thousands upon thousands of gallons of water are saved…monthy….yearly. You bring to mind other important issues, the average mower pollutants, pesticides and such.

    Now, can this grass be made from recycled material? (or is it already)?

    I would def. be interested!!


    Trish | July 10th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  2. What a well balenced article! I do not yet own a home, but after reading this, I will definately do more research when I buy one to see if an artificial lawn would be the best choice. It is strange to think of artificial being ‘better’, but looking at all of the resources used to maintain a lawn, it makes sense. Thank you for this eye-opening article!

    Michell | July 13th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  3. Very interesting read. Synthetic grass is definitely more eco friendly than a lot of people think. Especially when compared with the high level of maintenance required for natural grass. The grass shown in your picture looks great and natural too. Always worth pointing out that artificial grass is highly durable in all conditions, especially when compared with natural grass. Very interesting statistic about lawnmowers compared with cars, just goes to show that artificial grass really does make a massive difference to the environment.

    Perfectly Green Grass | October 11th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  4. For homeowners who live in dry climates or have grown tired of lawn maintenance chores and expenses, artificial grass is an ideal solution. An artificial grass lawn never requires mowing or watering, but remains neat and vibrant green no matter what the season. However, while it is much lower maintenance than real grass, your artificial lawn still requires certain periodic measure,

    Artificial Grass | October 20th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  5. Fake Grasss are eco-friendly. Fake Grass mainly used for residential Home values, Sports Lawn, Lawn and Terrace. Fake Grass
    provides the best quality varies of high-class. Make up your dream Lawn artificial and synthetic grass, easy to use and looks like natural grass.Fake grass should be UV proof, fire proof, water proof, color quick, pet and child helpful and all has a full manufactures assurance.

    Robert Pattinson | July 27th, 2013 | Comment Permalink

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