Sage Outdoor Designs » landscape design

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No longer astroturf but…..

In the search to save water a lot of people have been deciding to put in artificial turf. Hundreds of companies have cropped up with newer, better, fake grass. Aesthetically, it has made leaps and bounds recently, but when my clients ask if I recommend using it, my answer typically is “no”. So I wanted to take the opportunity to compare the up and down sides of artificial turf.

The upsides:

1) It doesn’t need to be watered. At Kate Presents, we consider this a pretty big upside.
2) It doesn’t need to be weeded, mowed, fertilized, or aerated. It is easy for people with busy lifetsyles.

The downsides:

1) It isn’t grass! It isn’t alive so you lose the benefits of real life plants. It doesn’t remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It doesn’t cool the air. It doesn’t squidge nicely under your toes when you walk barefoot.
2) It can get quite warm. Be especially aware of companies that use recycle tires for their filler material. It is black rubber, so it can get hot enough to burn kids and pets feet. Opt for the sand filler instead, if the company you chose offers it.
3) It is a petroleum product. There really isn’t any avoiding the central issue that it is essentially a green plastic carpet laid down outside. I’d like to see us use less plastic in the landscape, not more.
4) Most brands are not recyclable. With a few noteworthy exceptions, the backing and blades are inseparable and therefor unrecyclable. ProLawn is one of the few companies that has a product hat can be recycled.
5) It is expensive. Although it is possible to find deals in the $8-9 a square foot range, most companies offer their product at around $12 a square foot installed.

So what else is there? I think the key is that we need to let go of our belief that gardens should be 90% lawn with some trees and shrubs around the edges. It is possible to create beautiful outdoor spaces without a lawn or a fake lawn. Here are a few images that I hope illustrate this:

Sage Outdoor Designs is a San Diego landscape design firm. Kate
Wiseman, the Principal, has been a San Diego landscape designer
for the past ten years. Find out more at