Amy Roberts: No watering, no mowing, no chemicals. Synthetic lawns are eco-friendly
I have long held a grudge against the rate at which grass grows. Namely because mowing the lawn is number one on my list of despised chores. In fact, I hate it so much, it really is the only thing on my list — occupying all the top spots. I can accept laundry, cleaning the house, and even other forms of yardwork as part of being an adult. But when it comes time to mow the yard, I suddenly turn into a four-year old who’s just been told it’s time for bed. I’ll find any excuse to delay the inevitable.
I’m sure my grass cutting scorn is somehow connected to some form of PTSD from my childhood. Growing up, being on grass cutting duty was a type of punishment. I was too young to be effectively grounded, or have the car taken away, so between the ages of 10 and 15, when I misbehaved between April and October, I was usually sentenced to a date with John Deere. Kids in my neighborhood always knew I was in trouble when I was outside pushing the mower.
This might not sound like much of a penance, but we lived on over an acre of land, with a steep (by Nebraska standards) slope. Add to that about 1283% humidity and mosquitoes big enough to fight a chicken, and suddenly it’s understandable why mowing the lawn was indeed a punishment. Despite now having a considerably smaller yard, shorter mowing season, and more comfortable weather, I still hate mowing the yard. Thirty years later, I have been known to stare at my lawn and feel irrationally guilty — like I’ve upset my parents and now must suffer the consequences.
I’ve owned a house with a yard for over 20 years. And in that time, I’ve worked a lot of angles to weasel out of grass cutting duty. I’ve tossed out wildflower seeds, hoping to have a yard full of flowers instead of grass. I dated a guy primarily because he had a lawnmowing business. I even borrowed a goat once to chew it down. But it ended up eating all my flowers and part of the patio furniture instead. Then there was the summer I hired someone to handle this chore. It seemed like a good idea in theory, but it never really worked out. He came on Mondays and by Friday, I had a mini jungle in the backyard. I would end up mowing it over the weekend so I could have friends over for a BBQ and not worry about someone losing a small child in the tall weeds.
I’ve toyed with the idea of xeriscaping and did so in my front yard. But there’s only so many wood chips and rock you can have before your yard starts to resemble the outdoor smoker’s area at an urban warehouse. Besides, pebbles and mulch are not especially dog or barefoot friendly.
For years I have longed for a grass that didn’t grow. Something green and comfortable to walk on and aesthetically pleasing; but also something that didn’t require watering and weed pulling and other maintenance.
Until recently, I assumed this wish list was little more than a foolish green fantasy. But last week, I had a company install the landscaping version of solar panels. A synthetic lawn that looks and feels like real grass; but doesn’t need to be watered or mowed or otherwise maintained. I’m pretty confident it’s the best investment I’ve ever made.
While I’m mostly stoked to never have to mow a lawn again, the more I researched this product, the more I see the real environmental value in it. Having a lush green lawn mandates unreasonable and unsustainable water usage. Most mowers require gas and oil, and most lawns get weeds, which are often unfortunately treated with toxic chemicals that end up in our water supply.
Given the poor snow year we had, and the city’s focus on sustainability, I hope there’s a concerted effort to promote synthetic lawns. Pushing them sure beats pushing a lawnmower.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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