Not In My Front Yard
There is one place artificial turf should never, ever venture, and that's around a house, posing as grass.
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By Mary Winter
Scripps Howard News Service
I have no problem with artificial turf.
It's a fine covering for pee-wee golf courses, football stadiums and retirees' patios in Florida and Arizona.
A cousin of faux grass — faux parsley — is helpful in grocery meat cases by forming little hedgerows so pork chops don't mix it up with the ground round and the rib roasts. And one can hardly overstate the ongoing contribution of plastic grass to Easter baskets.
But there is one place artificial turf should never, ever venture, and that's around a house, posing as grass.
This should be obvious, but unfortunately, we saw it with our own eyes. On the front page of the newspaper recently was a five-column, color photo of a man dragging artificial turf onto a yard as if he were putting down a braided area rug.
All I could think was, "Say it ain't so, Paw."
Tell me green polyethylene won't become the front-yard kudzu of the 21st century. Tell me we won't be seeing I Can't Believe It's Not Bluegrass! franchises selling lawns by the square foot in shag, sculptured and popular berber styles.
Promise me our kids' generation will expose this ersatz slice of nature for the chemical imposter that it is.
Because if pretend grass takes off, what's to stop plastic trees, plastic shrubs and entire petroleum-based public parks?
Oh, yes. I know the arguments for pretend grass. It saves the environment because it doesn't need water, fertilizer or aerating. It doesn't need mowing or raking. It doesn't get brown patches, weeds or dandelions. At Christmas, your little spread can be greener than Coors Field on the Fourth of July. Some of it is guaranteed for 12 to 15 years, so you can leave it to your kids in your will.
But logic cannot be denied. In the final analysis, artificial turf is like all cosmetic enhancements — fleeting, uncomfortable, and often cheesy.
Toupees, instant coffee, and acrylic covers on sofas share the same fatal flaw — they ain't the real thing. Whether grass, hair or character, there is no substitute for authenticity.
Think about that the next time you barbecue in the back yard and a greasy hot dog rolls off the grill. You certainly won't need a rag and a bottle of 409 to clean it up.
Think about it the next time you run outside barefoot and feel the cool grass under your feet, or breathe in the glorious lilac bushes or the earthiness of a fat green lawn after a rain.
Or listen to the songbirds. They visit you for your worms and bugs, you know, and they live only in real turf, not manmade.
For further inspiration, grab a copy of that great American classic by Walt Whitman, "Leaves of Grass," or is that "Blades of Polyethylene"?
(Contact Mary Winter of the Rocky Mountain News at www.rockymountainnews.com.)
See how a few simple steps turn this boring, suburban front yard into a Tuscan-inspired landscape.