Having a fake plastic lawn should be considered “as bad as blowing smoke in a baby’s face” because of the environmental damage they cause, garden groups say.
Having a plastic artificial grass should be as socially unacceptable as blowing cigarette smoke into a baby’s face, Britain’s leading gardening groups have insisted.
They argue that the placement of products like AstroTurf, originally an all-weather sports surface, should be considered a crime against nature for the “extreme environmental damage” they are causing.
One in ten British households have replaced the grass in their garden with artificial turf, but Lynne Marcus, from the Society of Garden Designers, said: “We want to reach people who are considering putting up artificial turf which is as serious as not wearing a seat belt or blowing smoke in your baby’s face.
“I find it remarkable that people think it’s not okay to get a plastic bag, but it’s okay to cover the whole garden with plastic sheeting, which is what it’s actually doing, and destroying 1,000 years of topsoil to do it. “.
His group is joining forces with the Royal Horticultural Society and the Landscape Institute to launch a ‘Say No to Plastic Grass and Plants’ campaign to turn the tide.
The organizations say they also want to debunk the myths about plastic grass, advising that it is no easier to maintain than real lawns.
One in ten British households have replaced their garden grass with artificial turf and it is used on sports fields across the country.
Ms Marcus added: ‘We have to stop this because it is destroying our country. It is destroying many countries, but we can do something about it.
“And now it’s time to move on because the public is starting to feel a lot more protective of our wildlife.”
However, he admits that some customers still insist on artificial turf. ‘We need people to stop asking for it. All I can do is do my best to try to persuade them that it’s not a good idea.
According to Google Trends, which tracks online searches, interest in artificial turf increased 185% during the pandemic. Dr Mark Gush of the RHS backed Housing Secretary Michael Gove’s idea to ban plastic grass in new developments and urged him to sign it into law.
He said: ‘It would be a very good step as there are so many negative aspects of plastic grass.’
These include plastic pollution, the creation of more greenhouse gases during manufacturing, and the risk of synthetic materials seeping into the ground.
The organizations say they also want to debunk myths about plastic grass, advising that it’s no easier to maintain than real lawns, as it must be cleaned and vacuumed regularly, and it can smell bad, especially in yards with pets.
Uprooting real grass destroys the habitats on which wildlife depends, they say, as grass contains “a vast ecosystem of organisms…that help both the food chain and biodiversity.”
TV presenter and wildlife advocate Michaela Strachan has also urged homeowners to keep real grass, saying: “Many people don’t realize that by trading our lawns and garden plants for artificial grass and shrubs we are destroying vital habitats and food sources for our local wildlife ecosystems.’