Tuesday, 16 June 2015 11:18:27 Europe/London

Claims that artificial lawns are damaging wildlife

Gardeners considering abandoning their lawnmowers in favour of laying artificial turf should consider the harm they are doing local wildlife conservationists have warned. Many animals that shelter from intensive farming in our gardens are being displaced.

Artificial turf

Joy Wallis of the Dorset Wildlife Trust is one of many arguing against artificial grass. “Creatures can’t survive in the countryside because it is so full of chemicals and so they retreat into gardens, birds get absolutely nothing from artificial grass, they can’t dig for worms or anything like that”.

Tim Rumball, editor of Amateur Gardening magazine understands the appeal of instant lawns but sees the spread of artificial turf as a worrying development. “When grass grows longer, it attracts insects, If you have an artificial lawn then these insects will be depleted and the whole of the food chain will be affected, especially birds that rely on insects for their diet.”

Mrs Wallis agrees “an increase in the use of artificial grass will just add to the decline of wildlife. It seems a shame that people feel they haven’t got the time or the inclination to look after a lawn.”

Strong options in the fake-grass debate go beyond environmental concerns. When Easigrass was first used in a prize winning garden at the Chelsea Flower Show three years ago Telegraph writer Stephen Lacey called artificial grass ‘embarrassing’ and insisted it “belongs with plastic flowers and chocolate fountains. Fine for a party venue on a city roof but not anywhere else you want to engage with nature. Mowing, inhaling the sweet smell of grass and agonising over the state of the lawn are all part of being British”.

Our own Turfland Stewartsturf director Angela Mackay would admit her bias but is in complete agreement. ”I think of fake grass as being on a par with the plastic flowers. You know the ones I mean, the ones that you occasionally see in hanging baskets outside sleazy pubs that are starting to fade as the sun gradually bleaches the colour out of them giving the game away. Bit sad and in my opinion definitely tacky!”

“However, what's worse is that when someone lays an artificial lawn they are reducing valuable garden space which is so important to birds, hedgehogs and all kinds of invertebrates, for all the good it does to the environment they may as well be laying desert. Why have a lawn if you can't enjoy that wonderful smell when you run the lawn mower over it, when you can't watch the stretching worm as the blackbird tugs away at his meaty feast, when you can't benefit from the cooling effect created by a lawn on a hot summers day, when you can't wiggle your feet and feel the soft grass against your skin. The benefits of a natural lawn far outweigh the low maintenance of an artificial lawn every time.”

Bird feeding

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