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I have here a flyer that came in the mail today. It offers to replace my messy biological lawn with pet friendly, maintenance free FieldTurf, the world's leading synthetic turf system. The main argument seems to be that this will let me save on water bills, with some secondary arguments around tidiness and lessened effort in things like mowing.

(Had I a messy biological lawn, I would replace it with a strategic mix of native wildflowers. Coincidentally, this would involve saving on water bills and not mowing, and also not cover the earth with green plastic.)

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On the other hand, I've finally got a good place to use this icon.

We got one of those on our fence gate a few weeks ago. I figured you wouldn't actually feel it a loss if I discarded it without asking your opinion.

No, no that's fine. Throwing away stupid stuff is good.


I particularly like the bright green suspiciously smooth-looking grass. It works on so many levels!

Our real estate agent was going on about how wonderful that fake grass stuff is. That's just nuts. I save on water bills and don't mow by having rocks in much of my yard and a Darwinian garden in the rest of it. (It's amazing what will grow around here without any watering.)

Darwinian garden. I like that.

I've got a semi-Darwinian garden. I know there are plenty of things that will grow in my garden that I am fastidious about pulling out, because they are weeds that damage the local patches of natural habitat. It's probably inevitable that the natural habitats will be permanently altered by introduced weeds, but I don't want to make things worse (and I do regard the loss of natural habitats as "worse", however Darwinian). Otherwise, I'm pretty Darwinian. In particular, I'm looking at local natives and thinking about which might also work in a garden setting.

...They want to replace lawns with astroturf?
I think I would only accept if it came with free sports players.

Though, wait... dog... and fake lawn... wouldn't you still need to hose it down periodically because of the...uh.... messy biologic stuff FROM THE DOG?

Does that mean every few years it would need replacing, like siding? Would they come around and spray it green again from time to time? Heavens, a faded lawn.

It did say that the discount was only for new customers, so presumably there are also old customers in need of maintenance, replacement, or repair.

I imagine quite a lot of messy biological things come land on the lawn, from pets (yours and the neighbors'), nearby trees, other plants shedding leaves and pollen, passing birds, etc. etc. and so on. I wonder if they have some sort of cleaning method in mind that doesn't involve hosing it down? I'd think you'd need to do that fairly frequently if you wanted to keep it evenly green.

I wonder about drainage. When it rains on grass, the water seeps into the soil. Do they add extra contouring under these things to make the water flow into the street instead of puddling up and growing algae and bugs? Are they perhaps made of some sort of mesh so water drains through them?

...Damn it, now I want to call them and ask these questions. Not because I want the lawn, but because I want to know.

I'm glad I'm not the only one.

... oh look, they have a website. Apparently it's porous.

And they recommend raking it.


Agent Weasel's school has a patch of astroturf because the place concerned is bounded on three sides by two-storey buildings and on the fourth by a high fence, and they wanted a softer surface for the children to play on than concrete. They'd tried to grow grass there and failed miserably due to the lack of light.

Now, that kind of use makes sense to me. Replacing healthy, growing grass with it? Or healthy, ecologically-sound xeriscaping? Not so much.

Wow. That FAQ is a masterpiece of not actually answering the questions while appearing to provide lots of data.

This is not actually that new a phenomenon. I remember being endlessly fascinated with a house in my neighborhood when I was in grade school that had an AstroTurf lawn. It was actual fake plastic grass - there was another house that had a "yard" that was concrete painted green, I wasn't sure what that was supposed to be about. The AstroTurf lawn was surrounded by a waist-high chain link fence (to keep out dogs and children?), and had a couple of sun-faded gnomes and flamingoes staked out. I seem to remember having a vague memory of seeing a guy out hosing it down one morning, but I'm not sure if that's a real memory or a very strong image that I came up with while trying to figure out how it was kept clean. The yard had no living things in it whatsoever - no trees, no flowers, no weeds. It was rather depressing.

My mother, the original Devil's Advocate, when I pointed it out to her suggested that the owner of the house might be old or sick, and want something pretty that looked like a lawn but wasn't able to take care of one, or that they might be allergic to grass.

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