-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Saturday, December 30, 2006

in search of artificial lawn

This is a picture of the banks of our dam that Dad took a few weeks ago. It's drier than I've ever seen, you can not only see the hump in the middle, it's now a path big enough to walk over! It really rams home that water is going to have to be very carefully allocated in the garden.

dam with ridge showing

Lawn uses a lot of water but, as we discovered when visiting Beth Chatto's garden, it makes a huge difference to the look and feel of a place. Beth's "dry garden" is OK but it doesn't come close to my garden dream. To really shine, the garden beds need the the green lawn as backdrop.

Except perhaps for a tiny patch in the "secret garden", we're not going to have enough water to support real lawn. Even the drought resistant stuff you can get in Australia needs watering every 2-3 weeks. If you don't it goes brown... ok, it springs back to green-ness as soon as you water it again but what's the point, if it's brown you may as well have gravel. Besides, there's something miserable about the hardy grasses - they feel rough when you walk on them with barefeet, to me they're not a proper lawn.

Which leaves artificial lawn as the only alternative.

We looked at this a few years back and, at least then, there didn't seem to be any decent suppliers in Australia - at least not servicing the domestic market. Now though we've come across a few, and Dave has emailed them to find out more.

Here are the suppliers we've found so far:

Below are the questions Dave sent to each... I shall post an update with their replies. Fingers crossed. :-)

1. How real does your fake lawn feel and look? eg: If you walk on it barefoot could you tell the difference between it and real grass? If you fall over on it does it give you abrasions/burn like the old style astroturfs do? Is it possible to obtain a sample of the product?

2. Not that we are likely to need to do it often, but once the lawn is laid, if you needed to get to the ground underneath it is it possible to roll it up and re-install it later? This is a consideration because part of the area we'd like to cover has an underground gas main easement which we are not allowed to build over. As well, we are probably going to be installing various underground tanks for sewerage treatment, etc and if they could be underneath the lawn that would give us a lot more flexibility in placement.

3. To what extent is the product fireproof? If for example, a bushfire came through, would the fake grass act as a stimulant or retardant to the fire? Our property is bordered on one side by ironbark forest and so bushfire is a serious hazard we need to consider. On a smaller scale, what would happen if someone dropped a lit cigarette? If a small part was burnt, is it possible to patch?

4. Is it possible to use the fake lawn as a surface for collecting rainwater? We are going to be seeking to capture and store as much water as we can, given it's such a dry area. The lawn would be almost entirely in an area with a gentle slope, so there will be a natural path for runoff.

5. Finally, the question of price. I would be looking at 250-300 square metres coverage, though not in a square block, the grass would be going around garden beds, trees, etc. Can you give a ball park estimate of likely cost? Are there ways to minimise cost, eg: by doing the preparatory legwork and installation myself?

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