Plotting green


A natural lawn or artificial turf can be a point of debate with new homeowners

There’s very little in a home that is more inviting than a fresh green lawn of soft grass that beckons you to relax and savour the moment. But on the flip side that very dream of green can turn into a nightmare when it’s your turn to water, mow, weed and fertilise.

That’s why a larger number of busy Australians have started giving artificial turf a shot. Usually constructed of polyethylene plastic grass and an in-fill base of “crumb rubber” from ground-up recycled tires (as many as 10,000 in a single field), artificial turfs have become increasingly popular in communities all across the country.

Here are the pros and cons so you can make an informed decision.


  • Lower maintenance costs. While the initial cost is high, upkeep is supposed to be cheaper. Though there is need for repairs, vacuuming, refilling and even watering.
  • Pesticide-free. Unlike natural grass, artificial turf doesn’t require treatment with pesticides and fertilisers (note, however, the success some towns are having with organic grass fields).
  • Increased playability. Artificial turf fields are supposed to be more durable than grass; because playability is much higher, they allow broader access; can be played on all the time.
  • Fewer injuries. Durability and an even playing surface mean fewer injuries unlike grass that gets torn up by rough play and eventually turns into vast patches of slippery mud.
  • Saves water. An average grass playing field uses about 50,000 gallons of water per week during the growing season. That’s eliminated with an artificial turf.


  • Heat hazard. The heat-absorbing properties of an artificial field make it too hot to play on in extremely warm weather. On a 36-degree day, the temperature on the turf could rise to more than 48 degrees.
  • Lead. Excessive exposure to lead has been linked to severe mental retardation, stunted growth and death. Before you buy, check the lead content.
  • Other harmful chemicals. According to EHHI, shredded rubber could contain other toxic metals like arsenic, cadmium, chromium, and selenium.

Bacterial breeding ground

Medical experts have found that staphylococci and other bacteria can survive on polyethylene plastic, the compound used to make synthetic turf blades, for more than 90 days. Blood, sweat, skin cells and other materials can remain on the synthetic turf because the fields are not washed or cleaned.

So if you have it in the back yard and the dog poos on it or the kid vomits on it or whatever, you have to then use bleach or something equally strong on the turf.

  • Adverse affect on asthmatics. Breathing in dust of ground-up tires could exacerbate breathing problems for asthmatics.
  • Once artificial, always artificial. Once a community goes with artificial turf, it has no choice but to install another artificial turf field when the first one needs to be replaced because once plastic replaces natural grass, it kills any living organism in the subsoil making it impossible without years of soil remediation to grow anything on that surface.

Coming soon

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