Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Old Landscaping Trends of the 20th Century and New Solutions For 2011

The lack of hurricanes and tropical storms in 2010 means springtime drought conditions for the Southeast. Out West and in the North floods have inundated many regions. The coldest winter in decades to hit the United States will also see an increase in dead lawns throughout communities across the country. How will this affect homeowners, commercial properties, and HOA’s in 2011?  It means that there will be more widespread and tighter enforcement of water restrictions. It means that in the spring, there will be an inundation of landscaping companies making recommendations to thousands of clients on how they should replace their dead landscapes. It will be either the client’s decision of opting for the same expensive bad practices and wrong plant material or a prime opportunity to renovate correctly and sustainably with lower monthly fees and bills. It’s important for homeowners to be as savvy as they can on the newest and best landscape and irrigation trends. How did we know that what was offered as options and upgraded landscape packages that we thought we wanted were really bad for our wallets, our lifestyles, and our environment. Who knew?

Here are some of the old and “still used” practices that are not environmentally sound along with smart, water-conserving, and sustainable solutions for the 21st century.

Passé: Municipal plant lists and planting ordinances that create cookie cutter designs for communities. DRI’s suggesting HOA covenants that require unrealistic and environmentally unhealthy landscape maintenance.

Smart and sustainable: City and county planning departments should have an experienced horticulturist on staff that can review, provide recommendations and oversight on ordinances, regional biodiversity, and appropriate plant selections in landscaping plans when approving DRI’s and homebuilding permits.

Passé: Drought-tolerant plants.

Smart and sustainable: If you use excessive fertilizer and routine pesticide treatments, your plants will need more water. All plants – natives and non-natives – grown in proper site conditions and maintained with best management practices are drought-tolerant for short periods (two to three weeks). Determine proper soil conditions - xeric, mesic, or hydric - and select appropriate plants that thrive in those conditions. Design landscapes that, after establishment, will survive on normal rainfall using supplemental irrigation only during drought periods. Then maintain yard and common areas with best management practices to ensure the health of the landscape and to avoid pest problems. For more information see SJRWMD's FAQ’s.

Passé: HOA covenants mandating one specific turf creating monocultures that are prime targets of pests and diseases.

Smart and sustainable: HOA covenants that help residents conserve water and lower maintenance bills. HOA's could be proactive by having an environmental committee of homeowners that will work with local county extensions to become knowledgeable about biodiversity, native plants, and latest best management practices for their community. This committee could help oversee the common area landscaping contracts to ensure BMP’s are being used to reduce the amount of fertilizing and chemical spraying that increases TMDL’s of nutrients and stormwater pollution in their lakes and ponds. Having plant species biodiversity, including different types of turf, in residential communities will create healthier landscapes.

Passé: New homes with instant landscapes that have large expanses of turf, undersized garden beds crammed with large amounts of colorful annuals, oversized shrubs, and mandatory trees to provide instant shade. Builders, developers, and realtors love to sell the homeowner on a great landscape. While the landscape may look good for the first six months, it will start to grow exponentially during the next season. In two to five years, homeowners will be forced to spend a lot of money to maintain non-existent turf, deal with security issues from overgrown shrubs against windows and doors, and pay high maintenance bills. These landscapes will require frequent plant and turf replacement, constant pruning, excessive fertilization, and routine chemical treatments to reduce the pest and disease problems that will come from having been installed incorrectly to begin with. HOA’s sending out warnings to improve their covenant-mandated incorrect landscapes to already frustrated residents only exacerbates tensions, and the need for more water consumption, more stormwater runoff issues.

Smart and sustainable: Landscapes that are designed with appropriate plants that take into consideration the plant’s mature size. Finding out how big the plant will eventually grow, then giving them the proper amount of ground space so that their roots do not have to compete with other vegetation for sunlight, nutrition and water requirements. Maintenance and water needs are reduced, and the need for replacement minimized. With these practices, HOA’s covenants would help maintain more natural and healthier communities that increase the value of the homes.

Passé: Plants pruned routinely. Mowing and maintenance pruning are quick ways to spread weeds, insects, and diseases unintentionally throughout a region. One landscape company maintaining several communities with unsterile equipment and improper practices can escalate a minor pest problem into major epidemic. Homeowners end up having to continually prune landscape plants and trees because of wrong selection and placement by the builder. (This issue does not refer to higher maintenance topiaries or hobbies such as bonsai gardening.)

Smart and sustainable: Landscape plants should not have to be pruned constantly. If there is a need or desire for a five foot tall hedge, select a plant that will only grow five feet tall at maturity. Planting a 40' tall crape myrtle and hatracking it each year to 6' feet tall is the wrong plant in the wrong place. Install a crape myrtle that will only get to be 6' - 8' tall. Hire landscape companies that have employees that have horticulture industry certification and will only use best management practices.  

Passé: Foundation plantings too close to houses so that the plant's rootball and irrigation system keeps foundation wet. Gutter downspouts directed straight down to foundation.

Smart and sustainable: Keep flowers and shrubs at least half of the eventual mature circumference of the plant away from the foundation. Keep gutter downspouts and irrigation emitters at least two feet out and directed away from foundation. This will allow foundations to stay dry, preventing moisture and mildew from damaging home. Proper plant and gutter location will also extend the life of termiticide treatments and prevent wet conditions that attract termites.

Passé: Waiting till a new home is built to decide on landscape and irrigation. Ignoring or assuming the irrigation system is adequate. the builder or homebuyer doesn’t have enough money left in their budget to pay for an efficient irrigation system. Another common practice is putting in cookie cutter designs with inappropriate cheap plants to get C.O. approval. Ultimately, the landscape demands a lot of maintenance and the irrigation system is inefficient, making monthly water bills and maintenance expensive.

Smart and sustainable: Water consumption should be one of the most important decisions homebuilders, HOA’s, and buyers should make. It is the one aspect of living in a community that affects not only utility and tax bills, but also the environment of the watershed(s) in their entire region and state. Planning for a beautiful low-maintenance landscape with an efficient irrigation system when there is money in the budget will help keep both the builder and the buyer from having expensive replacement costs, high monthly water bills, and maintenance fees.

Passé: Installing a cheap irrigation system designed with same high volume zones for turf and garden beds. Portions of landscape turf dies from competing weeds and never getting enough water while the rest of the yard gets over-watered and also gets weeds. Homeowner mistakenly thinks they bought an  irrigation system adequate to maintain their beautiful landscape, but have excessive water bills not realizing their installed irrigation system is only 25 to 47% efficient.

Smart and sustainable: Separate high-volume zones for turf and low-volume zones for garden beds. Matching head precipitation. Sprinklers in low-lying areas have check valves. No high volume irrigation in areas less than 4 feet wide.. Efficient irrigation should be encouraged under building codes. For more information see Florida Water Star prerequisites for efficient irrigation criteria. The prerequisites for an efficient irrigation system would work in yards across the country.

Passé: Gated communities that are entirely walled for security that block wildlife from migration but every pizza delivery person, mail man, delivery driver, and cable guy has security code to get in.

Smart and sustainable: Communities keep their entry gates for security but are designed responsibly with natural living fences that will provide wildlife corridors with other communities throughout the state for migrating species. Designing increased native habitat vegetation on the outside boundaries of yards will allow for nesting, food sources, and migration. HOA’s educating residents on the benefits of wildlife corridors in sustaining our environment.

While some of these practices seem like they would increase costs, that’s a short-sighted misperception. When you consider the costs of landscape replacements, extremely high water bills, and the cost of treating our stormwater for public water supply, my question is why aren’t we demanding these solutions? With proper site condition assessments, there will be proper plant selections. With proper amounts of plants, shrubs and trees, there will be less need for paying for routine chemical applications. With proper installment of efficient irrigation, there will be healthier, less weedy landscapes that need less water and less maintenance, resulting in lower water bills.

With best management practices in place, there will be less cost needed to clean surface water, reducing the need to increase taxes. Solutions are out there and backed by university research. All we need now is the building and landscaping industry to have a paradigm shift into the 21st century and educate their consumers. Homeowners and new home buyers can precipitate this paradigm shift by demanding these solutions.  Solutions that will benefit wildlife, reduce unnecessary water use, prevent more pollution of our surface water, and more time and opportunity to enjoy the aesthetics of our wonderful world.

Copyright 2011 Teresa Watkins

Monday, December 27, 2010

My Top Ten Plant Picks For 2011 - A to Z

With the beginning of a new year, I love to turn over a new leaf and showcase some great flowers, shrubs and trees for 2011 that will do wonderfully here in Florida. I've found some new species and varieties of classics that will have heads turning to find out exactly what is that plant growing in your backyard. While most of these plants won't be cheap or found in your DIY nurseries, you will be able to find them online or at smart nurseries like Apenberry's Nursery in Orlando for a reasonable price. Ask your favorite nursery to order them for you. Click on the photos to view them closer.
  1. Sweet Almond Bush, Aloysia virgata. Zone 9 - 11. Very fragrant shrub or small understory tree that can reach 8' to 10' tall and 5' to 6' wide. Attractive to butterflies. Locate near walkways and patios to enjoy the almond scented bush. Grows fast, needs moist soils, full sun or partial sun, neutral pH. Hardy to low 20's.
  2. 'Cascade Falls' Bald Cypress, Taxodium distochum 'Cascade Falls'
    Zones 5 - 10. If you have lakefront shorelines but don't want to block the views, this dwarfed cypress tree has lovely cascading branches that will make a good groundcover or a small conifer pyramid for a horizontal effect. Stake the tree when it reaches the height you want and let branches weep. Reaching only 8' and 5' wide, this fast grower will be perfect in compacted soils, Japanese gardens, water gardens, ancient prehistoric themes, or give a Northwest look to your landscape. This cypress needs moist** to wet soils, even growing in water, 6.8 - 7.7 pH, and full or partial sun. Moderately salt tolerant. Soft foliage is beautiful in the fall and winter as it turns orange-brown. They have small cones. In wet conditions, 'Cascade Falls' will have cypress knees. Attracts butterflies and birds. Native.
  3. Dyckia 'Burgandy Ice,' Zone 9-11. This deep-red succulent species likes full sun and is one of the most cold-tolerant of the bromeliads. Genus was named for renowned Austrian botanist, Prince Josef Maria Franz Anton Hubert Ignatz (von Salm-Dyck), late 18th century succulent expert. Very low maintenance. Attracts hummingbirds. and butterflies. Hardy to 20 degrees. Grows to 12 inches wide, 12 inches tall. Full sun, handles any pH, but likes soils dry to moist. 'Burgandy Ice's spiny foliage makes a grand architectural statement in garden containers and along walkways. Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.
  4. Sedum rupestre 'Angelina' Zone 9 - 11. Bright chartreuse succulent that is a great groundcover. Perfect to add color and depth to a hanging basket or clay container. Sandy soil, any pH, full sun, minimum watering if no rainfall.
  5. Icee Blue® Yellow-Wood, Podacarpus elongatus 'Monmal.' I bought this beautiful blue podacarpus at Apenberry's after I saw it at Leu Gardens. A slow pyramidal grower that likes moist soils, full sun or partial shade, this tree if allowed to attain full height, will reach 15-25 ft. tall by 15-25 ft. wide. With occasional pruning, this evergreen (everblue?) is perfect for hedges, privacy screening for pools, or a specimen tree, yet grows slow enough to be the crowning touch for large containers. Pest-free. In the nine months that I've had mine, it hasn't needed any maintenance. This beautiful tree is available through Monrovia.
  6. Yellow Butterfly Pea Vine, Callaeum macropterus(formerly Mascagnia macroptera). Zones 8 - 10. Fast grower. Great for trellises, arbors, fences, and containers. Climbs to 12 feet tall with repeat blooms spring, summer, and fall. Yellow orchid-like flowers that have large green seed pods that look like butterflies. Full sun, dry to moist soil, any pH. Can be pruned in early spring to 2 feet tall to rejuvenate. Photo by Top Tropicals. Looks great as two columns on either side of fence gates.
  7. Marlberry 'Chirimen,' Ardisia japonica 'Chirimen.' This is a wonderful groundcover for shade that spreads very slowly. Moderate to fast grower, 5" to 6" tall spreading out to 5' wide. Small pinkish flowers that provide red berries in winter. Needs moist soils. Photo by Monrovia.
  8. Blueberries, Vaccinium spp. Zones 6 - 10. Blueberries are one of the featured edible plants at the ReVision House 2011. They need full sun, acidic soils, and depending on cultivar and maintenance can reach 4' to 6' high. The best time to plant blueberries is between December and late February. They make great hedges. Attracts birds. Vaccinium virgatum is a native Florida blueberry.
  9. Orange Scepter Butterfly Bush,Buddleia 'Orange Sceptre.' Zones 7 - 10. Beautiful orange flowers that bloom spring and summer. Reaches 8' tall by 5' wide. Deer resistant. Needs full sun, moist soils, not fussy about pH. Foliage is velvety and shrub gets woody without pruning. Photo by Plant Delights.
  10. Bangkok Yellow Rain Lily, Zephyranthes 'Bangkok Yellow'. Florida showers bring rain lily flowers. Zones 7 - 10. If you would like flowers that remind you of crocuses, rain lilies are it! These wonderful flowers make great groundcovers or add delight to your garden bed. Pest free, easily naturalizes, and blooms after late summer rain storms. All rain lilies are easy to grow and make great passalong plants! Photo by Plant Delights.
These are great plants that will add color, are easy to maintain, and will infuse your landscape with life. Check them out and see which one will look great in your backyard! I hope you have a healthy and Happy New Year!

** - Caveat: Watering requirements are after establishment.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I love it when the weather at Christmas is cold. Stay warm - it will be freezing Monday and Tuesday in Central Florida! These Gordon Setters are my sister's pride and joy. They live in England, which is also experiencing their coldest weather on record.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Tropical Mistletoe Discovered

The UN's 2010 International Year of Biodiversity has been bountiful. Along with a beautiful new Andean iris, a poisonous aubergine, new orchids, blue palm trees, a plant larger than Big Ben, and a bromeliad that is possibly pollinated by bats, Kew Botanical Gardens announced that a new tropical mistletoe has been discovered in Mozambique.

Fortunately, the parasitic plant is only found in Africa and not here in Florida. Today on "In Your Backyard" we talk to Dan Babrowski, Orlando's Davey Tree Experts Company sales manager about the mistletoe we see in Central Florida trees and what to do about it.

Read all about the new plants found here.

More expedition information and photos at the BBC.

Photo by Teresa Watkins

Once In A Lifetime Winter Solstice Moon

We've had two major cold fronts with freezes come through in the last four weeks and joked that it's not even winter yet. Officially, December 1st is the beginning of winter but December 21st is the longest day of the year and traditionally celebrated as the start of winter. Last night the winter solstice arrived with an unusual astronomical event not seen in four centuries. The solstice marks the day in the Earth's annual orbit where the sun at noontime is seen at the lowest point in the sky. Eclipses are not that rare but lunar eclipses happening on the exact winter solstice are extremely rare.

Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory inspected a list of eclipses going back 2000 years. "Since Year 1, I can only find one previous instance of an eclipse matching the same calendar date as the solstice, and that is 1638 DEC 21," says Chester. "Fortunately we won't have to wait 372 years for the next one...that will be on 2094 DEC 21."

Without a cloud in the sky, here's how the lunar eclipse was viewed in Orlando. The shadows moved very quickly.

2:12am EST

Photograph by Teresa Watkins

2:19am EST
Photograph by Teresa Watkins

More lunar eclipse links:

NASA Lunar and Solar Eclipse Site

Great animated graphic of an eclipse

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Lights in a Florida Garden

What do Florida gardens look like in the winter? We usually can wear shorts on Christmas Day, so our landscapes normally look great in November and December. But this year we've been hit by fluctuating high and freezing low temperature records within the first two weeks of the month.

While my tropical November blooming Panama rose, Rondeletia leucophylla took the frost more seriously than the rest of my garden plants, the cold weather has the sycamore in its glorious fall motif while my sweetgum and other deciduous trees are bare.

When you add holiday lights to your shrubs and palms, you add heat to the surrounding plants keeping them a few degrees warmer. Here's how the Florida Botanical Gardens in Pinellas County keeps warm during this unusually chilly December. Look at everyone in their winter jackets and coats strolling along the festive pathways. You can still see the Florida Botanical Gardens holiday lights through January 2nd.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chilly Mornings Set Records In Florida

Last night and early morning saw record lows in the 20's for Central Florida with wind chills in the teens. Despite warm La Nina predictions, we are seeing two freezes a week apart and temperatures 20 degrees below normal for this time of the year. The good news is that crabgrass will be killed.
With winter still a week away, our landscapes will have to contend with a few more freezes before March, so what should you do in your landscape to help your plants recover? The answer is: as little as possible. Turn off your sprinkler systems. Watering plants now with damaged foliage and stems will only allow disease and rot to occur in the stems and bark which could increase the plant's chances of death. Chances for rain this weekend will help water your plants naturally, if not irrigating normally on your watering day is all that is needed. For future freezes, make sure that the day before a freeze, hand water the ground around your tropical plants and fruit trees will help keep the warmth of the ground radiating at night.

The bad news is that tropical plants, palms, and fruit trees and any leftover summer annuals will also show damage. Don't remove any damaged leaves or fronds yet. Keeping them on will help insulate the plants during freezes. Optimally, you'll want to wait until the chance for freezing is over - usually at the end of February, mid-March.

Hold off on mowing turf with leaf firing (burned tips) or that has gone dormant until temperatures are back in the 60's. This also will keep the turf from further damage. There is no need for any fertilizing or pesticide treatments this time of year.

When temperatures stay below 28 degrees for more than 2 hours, citrus fruit damage will be likely. Harvest any ripe citrus as soon as possible. If the fruit is edible, the inside of the fruit will still look normal, smell good, and taste good.

If you haven't gotten frost blankets for your tropicals like scheffleras, hibiscus, crotons, allamandas,mandevillas, pygmy date and queen palms.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Synthetic Turf Isn't A Sin But It Isn't Beneficial Either

With more emphasis being placed on drought-tolerant plants, stormwater pollution, and expensive water bills, an estimated area of over 60 million square feet of synthetic turf was installed in the United States last year. That means popularity of 'fake grass' has increased 20% since 2006. This latest trend in hopeful water conservation has world-wide corporations looking for eco-friendly applications for their products and providing environmental research, critical to getting green products certified and acceptable to consumers.

This month, BASF, the world's leading chemical corporation, has proudly released their eighteen month study on synthetic turf's economic and environmental impacts versus traditional natural grass fields. The innovation giant's comprehensive research used eleven "eco-efficiency" categories such as energy, air, water, carbon emissions, and pollution. It is the first study verified by the highly regarded non-profit NSF International organization.

The study's comparisons between synthetic turf and natural grass are being touted as great news for the global environment, and very well may be, but we have to realize that the study is based on athletic fields, not residential lawns or entire developments. As with all environmental issues, there are implications in trying to recreate Mother Nature's earthly balance with Stepford Wives solutions.

The conundrum: Is synthetic turf better for the earth than natural grass?

The answer: Maybe in some applications but it depends on the use, amount, and maintenance.

Funny, but that's the exact answer to having an environmentally friendly landscape.

The history of synthetic turf started in the 50's and 60's with advancements made in carpet manufacturing. In 1966 AstroTurf® appeared on the market. Since then innovative processes have created a more "natural" turf product reducing previous abrasive and unattractive qualities for consumers. Now that it's much more attractive, more durable, it's becoming more acceptable in residential communities. But should it?

The Synthetic Turf Council has accumulated the positive research on artificial turf on its website. There is no doubt that with the increased popularity of worldwide sports, using natural turfgrasses in stadiums and sports arenas can be expensive. Higher maintenance of natural turf fields needed to achieve superior sport conditions does affect water quantity and water quality, not to mention excessive labor, time, weather hazards, chemicals, and budgets of academic sports teams and corporations.

The NSF International confirms BASF"s environmental study that synthetic grass for athletic fields can be less costly to maintain after its installation. But what enviromental impact does synthetic turf have before it becomes an athletic field? What resources does it take to make synthetic turf? How long will it last vs natural turfgrass? How will synthetic turf be disposed of when its not longer usuable?

Synthetic turf is derived from nylon and polypropylene, and is created by a tufting machine similar to technology used in carpet manufacturing. Binding for the bottom of the turf can be made out of any material used for carpet backing.

Watch a video on how artificial turf is made.

I couldn't find any studies researching the amount of energy and water that it takes to make an entire field of synthetic turf, but there are studies showing how much water is needed to make plastic bottles. If it takes more than five liters of water to make a plastic bottle that holds one liter of water, what should we assume it takes to make nearly 60,000 feet of a nylon football field?

One of the downsides of synthetic turf is the surface temperatures during the summertime. This University of Florida video shows that varying temperatures of 155 degrees to 100 degrees between natural grass, synthetic turf, asphalt and cement. Can you guess which one was the highest? The synthetic turf was highest at 155 degrees. The lowest was the natural grass temperature at 100 degrees. The heat index combined with green building could pose an issue with synthetic turf as vendors warn that they do not warranty any synthetic turf installed against reflective windows. With global warming and climate change concerns in the news, how could the summer temperature of millions of acres of artificial turf add to the heated debate?

After installation, synthetic turf customers are told to water down their lawn if it gets hot. That may not be often in Nebraska or Wisconsin, but in Florida that hot turf could happen every day ten or more months out of the year. How would you irrigate or clean an entire yard of artificial turf? With a water hose? Washing down 3,000 to 5,000 feet of nylon is quite a household chore, nevermind an extreme amount of water. I can't imagine too many customers keeping their irrigation systems after installing synthetic turf to water down the hot nylon surface daily or even being allowed to water it at all with current water restrictions? Mowing the lawn doesn't sound that bad looking at the alternative maintenance required for synthetic turf.

What is wrong with turfgrass anyway? It is a natural habitat for butterflies and skippers, moderates soil temperatures, and helps to reduce evaporation and runoff. Who is to blame for the massive use of water, chemicals, and maintenance for green acres of perfection? Certainly not the grass but our desire for perfect, no maintenance lawns. It's human behavior that is at fault.

The IMFA Foundation provides more sustainable benefits from turfgrass:
  • Provides a natural, comfortable and safe setting for outdoor recreation.
  • Releases oxygen and cools the air.
  • Controls pollution and reduces soil erosion.
  • Purifies our water supply by reducing stormwater runoff and controlling erosion from rain and wind.
  • Can enhance curb appeal, adding as much as 15 percent to the value of a home, when well-maintained.
  • Traps and removes dust and dirt from the air.
  • Uses water very efficiently.
  • Acts as a natural filter, reducing pollution by purifying the water passing through its root zone.
  • On a hot summer day, lawns will be 30°F (-2°C) cooler than asphalt and 14°F (10°C) cooler than bare soil.
  • The cooling effect of irrigated turf reduces the amount of fuel burned to provide the electricity to power air conditioners.
  • A healthy lawn absorbs rainfall six times more effectively than a wheat field and four times better than a hay field.
  • A sodded lawn will absorb greater amounts of rain than a seeded lawn, even after three years of growth.
Last month, I designed a renovation of a twenty year old, tired landscape. It included a cottage and border garden, terraces, and a new front lawn of zoysiagrass. It looks beautiful and will be low maintenance and water conserving because of the correct plants and overhauled water-efficient irrigation system. Costs were very reasonable. Within 15 minutes of unloading the flowers and ornamental shrubs, there were dozens of butterflies and skippers eagerly flitting from plant to plant around the yard. They seemed to come from nowhere. Each time I visit the house, the finished landscape always has butterflies floating around the flowers. After establishment, the landscape will last for years with little need of supplemental water, weekly mowings, or chemical use. There will be no need to ever look for a recycling plant or landfill to haul any of the plants or grass away if they want to change it.

At the same time as I was designing and installing my client's landscape, literally around the corner was a home having artificial turf installed. I have been by it many times, and have yet to see any beneficial life in the landscape. It looks green alright, but it looks fake. The sparkling synthetic turf glistens in the sun, and I'm sure the temperatures around the yard will be fine as we go into winter, but I'll be interested in seeing what it feels like with the temperatures in the heat of summer. The synthetic turf lawn will stay the same, no seasonal changes, always Stepford green. Word on the street is that it cost over $15,000. Of course, synthetic turf is not permanent, and will need routine maintenance like pulling the weeds out and cleaning, eventually needing replaced within ten years. That will come with an additional cost of hauling it away to a recycling plant or landfill. I wonder if this resident understood the complications of recycling 5,000 square feet of old, worn-out synthetic turf?

So while an argument can be made that synthetic turf is a smart choice for a company's bottom line and for the manufacturing corporations, there is no environmental benefit to the residential owner installing a synthetic turf except possibly to his lifestyle of boasting a perfectly green lawn all year round. Installing synthetic turf won't benefit the earth at all, unlike natural grass. It is an short-term artificial solution for a culture striving for instant perfection but without having responsibility of stewardship. It's a behavioral problem that only has its own long term implications when people stop taking care of their artificial turf. I agree with Todd Layt that man-made turf is an alternative to cement, not natural grass. There's nothing wrong with turfgrass if it's taken care of with best management practices. Let's use the eco-friendly grass that God gave us, but use it wisely and maintain it properly.

If not, what's next? Synthetic flowers?

More reading:

12/10/2011 - Further comments made by any artificial turf companies for the purpose of promoting their product and company will not be posted.  If you have a legitimate comment - go for it.
~ Teresa Watkins