Las Vegas combats drought with artificial grass
In June, Gov. Steve Sisolak signed into law a measure that would require nearly a third of all of Southern Nevada’s grass to be removed by the end of 2026. The Southern Nevada Water Authority has estimated the measure will save 10 percent of the area’s allocation of water from the Colorado River — about 30,000 acre-feet.
The law is in response to the drought and water shortage occurring throughout the Southwest and is driving homeowners to consider artificial turf, which is more eco-friendly than a natural lawn. Growing and caring for grass requires regular watering and fertilizing that can produce a negative impact on the environment. Installing artificial grass or desert landscaping can conserve water and reduce the carbon footprint.
Elizabeth Mullally, general manager at Las Vegas Artificial Lawns, said homeowners are making the change to artificial turf.
“I’ve been doing this for 15 years and have never seen anything quite like it,” she said. “We have always been busy, but what is going on now is just unreal with what people are doing to their homes. Usually, I’m booked two weeks in advance. Right now, we’re booked through the end of August.
“But it makes sense because this is a home improvement project where SNWA pays you to get rid of grass. You can keep your trees, flowers and bushes but convert the grass, which is a drain on water resources.”
The SNWA will rebate $3 per square foot of grass removed and replaced with desert landscaping up to the first 10,000 square feet converted per property, per year. Beyond the first 10,000 feet, the authority will provide a rebate of $1.50 per square foot. The maximum award for any property in a fiscal year is $500,000. Over the years, the Water Smart Landscapes rebate program has upgraded about 200 million square feet of lawn to water-efficient landscaping, saving billions of gallons of water.
Mullally said a typical yard is between 400 to 600 square feet, and homeowners have a different request for each yard. She is installing more dog runs on the sides of homes with putting greens and bocce ball courts.
“Some prefer a more manicured look like it was just mowed, while others want the yard to look lush like it needs to be mowed in the next couple of days,” she said. “We do residential and commercial, and there was one residential lawn at a home in Anthem where we installed 15,000 square feet of artificial grass.”
According to Mullally, the company’s product is manufactured in the United States and comes with a 15-year warranty. The warranty guarantees that the turf does not fade or dry out and will not become brittle or lose its color. It is resistant to drought and will remain lush and green even throughout the harshest and driest conditions.
“I like to point out that the brand of artificial grass we use is popular in Canada,” she said. “This illustrates its ability to handle extreme weather conditions.”
High foot traffic can cause bare spots, ruts and pathways in natural grass resulting in an unpleasant appearance that reduces curb appeal. Artificial grass is much more resilient than natural grass and will resist the constant pressure of foot traffic because the blades bounce back into place.
“We have different products based on the specific needs of our customers,” she said. “For instance, a family of four with pets is usually outside all the time, and they would require an artificial turf that can handle heavy traffic. But it’s a different story for a retired couple who don’t spend much time in their backyard.
“When we consult with a customer, we have in-depth conversations to determine which of our 12 products best fits their needs. You don’t need high traffic turf in the front yard, but it’s altogether different in the back yard.”
Among the features of the artificial grass installed by Las Vegas Artificial Lawns is its fiber heat reduction technology that lowers surface temperature, evaporative cooling infills, soy-based BioCel coating that replaces petroleum components, antimicrobials infused in the backing to help mitigate pet odors, and nylon products that will not melt from reflective lighting off windows.
Artificial turf first gained attention in 1966 when it was installed in the year-old Houston Astrodome and rebranded as AstroTurf. The first-generation turf systems were short-pile fibers and later replaced by the second-generation synthetic turf systems featuring longer fibers and sand infills. Third-generation systems, which are most widely used today, offer infills that are mixtures of sand and granules of recycled rubber.