Californians may soon get rebates to replace their traditional grass lawns with a synthetic substitute to encourage water conservation. And as an added incentive they can toss out that lawn mower.
Anaheim, along with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, is test-driving synthetic lawns as a way to conserve water.
If it works, residents who install the faux grass may soon be eligible to receive rebates, similar to those offered for low-flow toilets and water-efficient washing machines.
Public utility officials estimate that about 40%—perhaps as much as 70%—of an average residential water bill goes to outdoor uses. And 90% of that water is used on lawns.
The availability of fresh water in the western states is a growing concern and there are already some major political and legal battles taking place in several states that share access to very limited fresh water sources. The trend of issuing rebates to water customers who install water efficient appliances is already well underway in many states and the use of fake grass in areas outside of the sports arena is growing as well. But is it really better than the real thing?
“We’re talking no more mowing, watering, fertilizing, weeding or resodding,” AstroLawn’s website promises.
“Roll around on your soft, supple, virtual lawn with your kids with no worry of dirt, cinch bugs or grass stains. Tiptoe through your beautiful garden, enjoying your gorgeous landscape that is sure to be the envy of the neighbors. We know you have better things to do than water and care for a grass lawn.”
The modern version is a far cry from old-school AstroTurf, a hard carpet of green that looks fake a mile away.
“Oh my God, it’s soft, beautiful,” said Mary Adams, who lives in one of five Anaheim homes that received the artificial turf as part of a pilot program. “We’ve had so many people just stop and feel it. Even the street cleaners and the trash people. It is an eye-catcher.”
Anaheim homeowner Ervin Page, 32, doesn’t have a fake lawn, but he’s thinking about installing one. He’s already received about $700 in rebates from the city after buying a water-efficient refrigerator, washing machine and air-conditioning unit.
“You gotta find the savings wherever you can,” said Page, who visited one of the pilot homes armed with his digital camera. “If you can help the environment at the same time, why not?”
Page wasn’t completely sold on the grass. He wanted it to look less manicured. But, he said, “I love the feel. If you were to be blindfolded and walk across, you’d have a tough time telling the difference.”
This is the sort of thing that’s probably only useful in climates that tend to be hostile to grass in the first place, which is a shame as the idea of not having to mow my lawn once I purchase a house is an attractive one.