Thinking of replacing your lawn with artificial turf? Think again – Marin Independent Journal

Tired of pouring water down the drain to keep your lawn green? Or do your children no longer use your lawn to play? You may have heard that lawns are not environmentally friendly, expensive, time consuming, and require constant fertilizing, mowing, and other chores. Are you thinking of replacing your lawn with artificial grass? Think again Although it seems like an easy and quick fix, artificial turf has many disadvantages. There are also several other options that work better.

Artificial turf was first introduced in 1965 in the Houston Astrodome under the name “AstroTurf” for use in its indoor stadium. Today there are many reasons to avoid this. Artificial grass:

• Removes plants from your garden and eliminates food and habitats for birds and small mammals and creatures in your soil.

• Is somewhat impermeable and prevents leaves and other organic debris from seeping into your soil.

• A leaf blower is required for cleaning.

• Gets incredibly hot; It can reach 130 degrees or more on an 80 degree day.

• Can burn sensitive tree roots under the surface.

• May cause air pollution when heated.

• May cause health hazards as it is made from tires that contain carcinogenic chemicals.

• Is expensive, ranging from $ 8 to $ 15 per square foot.

• Is not weed-free; Crab grass and other weeds can grow in it.

• Only lasts about 10 years.

• Will eventually end up in a landfill where it can take hundreds of years to decompose.

Photo by Julie McMillan

Tomatoes thrive in a raised box in a vegetable garden.

Many other options are better than traditional lawns or artificial turf. You use less water; need less work; are better for the environment; Provision of rain catchers and wildlife habitat; keep temperatures cooler; costs less; last longer; will not end up in a landfill; and can even produce food for your family.

Think about how you plan to use the area before deciding what is best for your garden. What is your microclimate, exposure, water conservation, soil and drainage? How much time and money would you like to spend on initial installation and ongoing maintenance?

Some excellent lawn alternatives include:

• • Low water grass. If you still want the look and functionality of a lawn, consider a grass that uses much less water. Drought-tolerant grasses include Bermuda grass or paspalum on the coast.

• • Greensward. You may want a green area or a row of grassy plants that provide an acceptable surface for some pedestrian traffic. You can plant a single species, e.g. B. a whole surface of blue grama grass or buffalo grass.

Further design solutions for the previous lawn area:

• • Meadow. You might want a meadow full of interesting wildflowers and swaying grasses to attract butterflies, birds, and beneficial insects. Typically, a natural, informal California meadow without trees or shrubs contains herbs, perennials, annuals or bulbs, as well as grasses and sedges. You may want to include native wildflowers for seasonal colors like California poppies or lupins.

• • Lush garden. These are visually striking and do not require a lot of water. Many succulents have a formal rosette growth pattern that inspires their arrangements in gardens. They are usually found in Mediterranean climates such as Marin and require well-drained soil. Professional designers recommend using fewer different types of succulents and repeating more of each type. You might want to include aeonium, agave, aloe, or dudleya.

• • Kitchen garden. An edible garden produces vegetables, fruits, and herbs for your entire family. Although a vegetable garden takes as much water, fertilizer, and time as a lawn, it provides food and is better for the environment. A certain amount of structure will help create an attractive vegetable garden. So you can make beds or even use raised boxes. You might want to consider herbs, strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, kale, pumpkins, green beans, and squash for your vegetable garden.

For more information on replacing your lawn, see

The UC Marin Master Gardener column was written by UC Marin Master Gardeners, sponsored by the University of California Cooperative Extension. If you have any questions about gardening, plant pests, or disease, email

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