The grass is greener
or is artificial turf a better option?2nd Apr 2020
As South Africa becomes more water-stressed, many home owners and estate managers are considering replacing lawns with artificial turf. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, so you need to look carefully at how the two options stack up against each other in terms of eco-friendliness, durability, and convenience.
With the increase in concern about sustainability, and effectively reducing one’s carbon footprint, many people believe that natural is always better. But that is not necessarily the case with lawns – especially considering that some lawns are decidedly more sustainable than others. [INSERT LINK TO MARTIN’S ARTICLE ABOUT LAWNS] So, perhaps, this may be one situation in which fake is better than real, because – in some ways – artificial turf can be a more ecologically sustainable option than lawn.
‘When opting for artificial turf, there will no longer be the issue of contamination of the groundwater by chemical fertilisers and pesticides,’ says Jurgens van Wyk, director of Namgrass South Africa. ‘There is no more wasting precious water in an attempt to keep the grass green, and there are no more fumes or noise emitted from lawnmowers. Furthermore,’ he adds, ‘most quality artificial turf – Namgrass included – is 100% recyclable.’
But, ultimately, choosing between the two is largely a matter of preference. It all depends on the overall aesthetic you want, and how much time – and water – you have on hand to dedicate to caring for your garden.
Another concern for anyone interested in investing in artificial turf is how durable it will be in the long run. How is it affected by the sun? What is its expected lifespan?
There is no getting away from the fact that the sun has an ageing effect on everything – natural and fake grass included. The great news is that most artificial turf manufacturers have taken action in an effort to ensure that their products are as resistant to the sun’s intense UV rays as possible.
‘Our products are manufactured in Belgium to top safety and industry specs. For example, our yarn boasts the maximum amount of UV stabiliser (10,000 ppm) allowed. In other words, all Namgrass products will look the same after being in the sun for 10 years, and possibly much longer than that,’ Van Wyk explains.
From a longevity perspective, the average lifespan of a piece of artificial turf is said to be around 10–15 years.
Fake grass requires less maintenance than its natural counterpart – no mowing, no weeding, no fertiliser and – most importantly – no watering. In most cases, all that the artificial turf really needs in order to maintain its aesthetic appeal is a good brush every week or so to keep the strands standing upright. It is perforated to allow for easy drainage, and is resistant to excrement from cats and dogs. Simply pick up the mess and spray off any remnants with a quick burst of water from the hosepipe.
Selecting a good-quality artificial turf
If you decide to go the fake grass route, the next step will be to find a reputable supplier. So how do you pick one?
‘References are your key to having a great artificial lawn,’ advises Alex Hoskins, owner of TuffTurf Artificial Turf. ‘Ask to see two local projects, one recent and one a few years old. A good company will have built a friendship with their customers, and won’t have any issues getting access to previous sites.’
It’s also important to ensure that the actual turf supplied is suitable. Most manufacturers use either C4 or C6 materials – both of which are essentially linear, low-density polyethylene plastic, but many suppliers believe that C6 materials are superior.
‘C6 polyethylene offers a higher tensile strength, and a higher elastic recovery,’ says Van Wyk. ‘It is also less sensitive to extreme temperatures, is softer, and is more UV-stable.’
‘After-sales services is paramount,’ adds Hoskins. ‘There can often be small issues that, if dealt with promptly, don’t become major issues.’