Fake Lawns Creating New Interest

Synthetic turfgrass is gaining popularity with some property owners in the water-parched West. Manufacturers of synthetic lawn products have made impressive improvements in its look and feel by blending two yarns to vary the width and height of grass blades. But the jury is still out on the long-term use of the new products. Optimum appearance is eight to 10 years.

Although synthetic turf is a little cooler than the sidewalk, it cannot compete with the natural cooling effect of a real lawn. Synthetic turf costs more, too. An Internet search revealed the average cost of a synthetic turf installation averages $5 to $8 a square foot, compared with $2 to $3 a square foot for the installation of natural sod with a sprinkler system. Synthetic manufacturers counter that maintenance is far easier with their product, and no fertilizers, herbicides and lawn mowers are ever needed. With synthetic turf, they say all you need is a hose, blower or broom to wash down the dust or pet droppings.

Municipalities in the West appear to be supporting installation of synthetic turf. The California communities of Laguna Hills and Laguna Niguel intend to spend $272,300 subsidizing synthetic turf installation. Anaheim Public Utilities in Anaheim, Calif., and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California may offer rebates, depending on the results of a study looking at water savings and customer satisfaction.

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