Landscape architect Craig Wilson looks at the options and benefits of artificial lawns.
Landscaping projects can generally be broken down into two distinct components: the ‘hardscape’ and the ‘softscape’. A key element of the ‘softscape’ in Canterbury residential gardens is the humble lawn. Our childhood memories of backyard cricket, making daisy chains and backyard summer picnics were all made possible by the green slab of lawn that Dad mowed every Saturday afternoon.
For the landscape designer, a lawn is a valuable tool in creating a restful open space with strong contrast to the texture, layering and form of garden beds and the hard precise lines of built landscape elements. In summer, an expanse of a lawn is a welcome cooling element in sharp contrast with the reflection and glare of hard surfaces.
The ideal lawn has been often viewed as a weed-free ‘monocultural’ wonder and is often the pride of its watchful owner. However, the effort to create this impression is not for the faint-hearted and requires a strict year-round schedule of irrigation, fertilisation, spraying, de-thatching and mowing.
If you want the look but don’t want the work, a viable alternative to a traditional ‘browntop and fescue’ lawn is one of the many artificial turf products available. The term ‘artificial’ never sounds good and is enough to put many off. However, it is increasingly becoming the lawn of choice – even here in ‘lawn proud’ Canterbury.
The benefits of artificial turf are obvious, but worth the time to mention. Firstly, you don’t need to mow it much… and secondly, it looks as good all year as the day it went down. For the homeowner who travels and wants to come home to pristine lush green without the thought of mowing ankle-length lawn, it can be a no-brainer. It can also be a great solution to that problematic shady area where you’ve tried and tried unsuccessfully to get a lawn to establish and ended up with mud time and time again. Perhaps most importantly, as our water supply and consumption continues to gain deservedly heightened awareness, artificial turf requires no irrigation and will be a lovely, soft green even in the harshest drought.
Artificial turf will never be everyone’s cup of tea, and it’s hard to beat the feeling of a healthy dense green swathe of grass between your toes on a summer’s day. But be aware of ‘lawn envy’ this summer – your neighbours’ lawn may not be all you imagined it to be.