Orders for artificial grass increase

Landscapers say last year's rain and hosepipe ban are partly why material is gaining popularity.

Increase in artificial turf orders for children's play areas
Increase in artificial turf orders for children's play areas

Landscapers say they have seen an increase in clients requesting artificial grass following last year's weather challenges.

Landscape architect James Steele Sargent said more clients are asking for artificial grass when they redesign their gardens.

"It is becoming more popular," he added. "It's more realistic these days and people are more conscious of the time they are spending in their garden. They think do they want to be mowing or do they want to be laying in a hammock reading?"

Gavin Jones Group commercial contracts manager Dave Adams has also seen an increase. "We're getting a lot of orders for greening up grey areas and for children's areas," he said.

Landscapers report that last year's long period of rain followed by a hosepipe ban is one reason the material is gaining popularity.

Gavin Jones used artificial turf when installing the landscape around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park hospitality suite in response to the ban.

Garden designers, meanwhile, are using it to create funky effects. Andrew Fisher Tomlin used it on walls in his design for the RHS Product of the Year stand at the Chelsea Flower Show. "Where it's appropriate, I'll use it. But if possible, I'll always use real grass," he said.

Manchester-based artificial grass company Great Grass said the firm has seen a 30 per cent rise in sales in 2012-13 against the previous financial year.

Company owner Mike Allen said that schools, families and older people alike appreciated its low-maintenance features and found it a tough surface for children and dogs.

Putting forward the argument for using genuine grass

Artificial grass may be becoming more popular as people see it as a convenient alternative, but there are some places where only the real thing will do.

The Royal Parks spends £80,000-£100,000 a year refreshing grass in its parks after its summer programme and has undergone huge refurbishment since the Olympics last year.

But deputy chief executive and director of parks Colin Buttery said: "We have thought about artificial grass but decided it wasn't appropriate for a grade I listed landscape."

Turf Growers Association chief executive Tim Mudge said: "I am sure people would consider alternative surfaces in some areas but we still think the natural stuff is the perfect surface for leisure and sport.

"It absorbs rain that percolates down to the aquifers, produces oxygen and absorbs CO2, and stores carbon. It cools the surface of the earth and filters and breaks down pollutants."

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