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  • Writer's pictureSarah Kay

Why I support the 'Say no to plastic grass and plants campaign'.

The Society of Garden Designers recently launched their 'Say no to plastic grass and plants' campaign and I'm very pleased to put my full support behind it. I think that garden designers have a responsibility to educate our clients about the negative effects of using these products and to offer alternatives that do not have such a detrimental effect on our wildlife and planet.

I admit that in the past, I have designed gardens with artificial turf, usually because a client insisted on it or because of a dog, and have justified it by including a high percentage of planting to counteract it's use. However, a couple of years ago I made the decision to never design gardens with artificial lawns or plants for the following reasons:

Artificial Lawns

  1. Destroy natural habitats and soil

Digging out the topsoil and covering it with an artificial lawn suffocates the soil below, killing worms, fungi and organisms within and destroying sources of food for wildlife.

2. Increase carbon emmisions

All artificial lawns are made from fossil fuel based plastics and shipping the product from overseas adds to the carbon footprint. A natural lawn on the other hand will both process and absorb CO2.

3. Create heat islands

Real lawns help to cool themselves through evaporation. An artificial lawn, which absorbs the heat from the sun can be 26C hotter than the surrounding air.

4. Cause Floods

Artificial lawns absorb less than 50% of rainfall, causing run off and subsequent flooding. Real lawns absorb almost all rainfall.

5. Pollute our waterways

The plastic breaks down over time and is washed into the drainage system and subsequently our waterways.

And remember that artificial lawns are not biodegradable, can't be recycled, don't last forever (usually 15 years) and are not maintenance free. See the SGD's leaflet with more information on these issues.

Wildflower turf in my E11 Industrial Style Garden

Camomile between stepping stones

There are some great alternatives out there. The traditional lawn is relatively cheap to install and provides all the benefits mentioned above. However they can be quite high maintenance so I would recommend low-mow or no mow alternatives like camomile, thyme or clover or a wildflower lawn, which will provide you with an everchanging colourful and insect friendly display from May- November when it is cut down to prepare for next year's display.


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