Have you heard about the latest thing in turf grass for those who demand an expanse of green in front of their house? It might (or might not) surprise you to learn that some gardeners are taking a page from the history of the Astrodome. Yes, they are "planting" their yards with Astroturf!
This latest innovation in the perfect lawn seems to have taken hold especially on the West Coast and in some of the desert Southwest areas where water to lavish on real grass is scarce. The faux grass is finding its way not just onto homeowners' yards but into public play spaces as well, especially in the San Francisco area. This has caused some concern about possible health hazards to children playing on these artificial fields, but a recent study by the State of California found that the only hazard was an increased risk of skin abrasions when individuals fall on the stuff. That, it seems to me, is not an insignificant hazard, but, apparently at least, the "grass", which is actually made from old tires, does not present a toxic hazard.
Call me an old fogey but I just can't see myself jumping on the faux grass bandwagon. I speak as a gardener who presently has much of her front yard in bare ground because of the heavy shade from and the water-guzzling habits of the trees there. While it might be nice to have a wide expanse of flawless green stretching away in front of my house, I don't think artificial grass would be a good thing for the tiny critters who live in the soil, nor for the other critters, such as various skipper butterflies, who depend on real grass for their life cycle. It probably wouldn't be too good either for clumsy-footed gardeners who are sometimes prone to stumble and fall. I get abrasions enough in the normal course of my gardening activities. I don't think I need another abrasive hazard in my life.
So I'll continue my search for the perfect groundcover that will survive and thrive in deep shade, and, meantime, I'll tolerate my dirt yard. At least when I fall, there'll be something soft and welcoming there to catch me.