Sandy’s Garden ... Turf Wares

Sandy Simpson
Sandy Simpson
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Over the years, I have not infrequently mentioned the grass in front of and behind our home.

Usually telling that we call it ‘the grass’ because that which in front of our house cannot in all conscience be called a ‘lawn’ while that to the rear scarcely merits the epithet ‘drying green.’ Despite our best efforts for many summers and not a few springs and autumns, the moss has persisted and the liverwort multiplied until we have finally been overwhelmed by the grinding, wearisome, seemingly-unwinnable battle. Yes, afflicted by the infirmities of age and worn down by the never-ending war on weeds, we have run up the white flag of surrender. The weeds have won; we have capitulated and opted for artificial turf.

Mark you, the decision was not easily reached. Having lived with real grass for our entire lives so far, the temptation was to opt to have all the existing grass removed, the drainage improved, fresh soil added and brand new turf laid. So we did invite expert opinion from agencies which dealt both in natural and in artificial turf: and the scales came down in favour of abandoning the real in favour of the man-made. That decision taken, the next task was to determine what mode of artificial grass we would choose.

And this is where the heading comes in. I had never given the matter much thought, beyond being aware that, in the realm of football pitches, some artificial grounds are seen as better than others, implying that there must be different types of synthetic turf. Had I considered the issue, I would not have been surprised when our chosen contractor came to visit us with a collection of samples, like a carpet salesman with his sample books. There are, I learned, different colours of ‘grass’ available in artificial turf; there are different lengths of ‘grass’; there are different … I don’t know the correct term … ‘thicknesses’ or ‘densities’ or ‘number of stems per square metre.’ Whatever, there are choices to be made in the matter of the turf wares, choices which have cost implications as well as matters of personal taste.

Then there are design considerations, about which I knew absolutely nothing. Apparently, although joins are concealed as far as possible, they cannot be concealed completely, particularly from certain angles of view. Naturally, the view of our front grass … can I call it a lawn now? … which passers-by see is one which exposes any joins. That led to the use of a very wide roll of turf to avoid the need for seams, the corollary being that a significant amount of the verdure had to be cut off to conform to the existing … and unalterable … shape of the area. Then our choice of seemingly recently-tended, thick grass was, as might have been expected, one of the more expensive options. And finally, there was the question of the country of manufacture of the artificial turf. We opted for a European product in preference to one from the Far East on the recommendation of our supplier, though he did say that there is little to pick and choose between the best products of the two areas.

Have we made the right choice? Well, time alone will yield the answer to that. The capital cost was less than I had expected it to be, although still a significant sum. We shall save on the cost of having the grass regularly cut, of course, having been forced by the infirmities of age to engage a jobbing gardener to undertake this task last year; we shall save on fertilisers and lawn weedkillers; we shall not need to water the new installations; and we shall not fret about its unkempt appearance, especially during the winter months for … hopefully … it will look attractive all year round. But will we get bored with this sameness and wish that the appearance of our grass changed with the seasons? Time alone will tell.