Artificial Grass: The Biodiversity Destroyer?

The Society of Garden Designers has recently joined forces with the Royal Horticultural Society and the Landscape Institute to launch an artificial grass campaign aimed at tackling the extreme damage and decline to wildlife it causes.

The ‘Say No to Plastic Grass & Plants’ campaign comes after 29% of UK households were reported to be considering switching to a fake lawn. 1 in 10 households in the UK have already replaced their natural lawn with artificial grass.

These products cause habitat loss, plastic pollution, flooding, destroy living soil, leak microplastics into waterways, contribute to urban heat islands, and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions in their production.

Facts about plastic grass:

  • They are not biodegradable: Artificial grass and plants are made from a mix of plastics including polypropylene, polyurethane and polyethylene. None of these are biodegradable.
  • They can’t be recycled: Plastic grass and plants cannot be recycled. There are no suitable recycling facilities in the UK.
  • They don’t last forever: Plastic grass has a lifespan of 15 years, after which it will go to landfill and continue to pollute the environment.
  • They are not maintenance free: Over time, they accumulate a build up of excrement and urine from wildlife, and organic detritus such as self-seeding grass, weeds and moss. Regular cleaning with disinfectant and other chemicals is required.

The Society of Garden Designers co-chair, Lynne Marcus, said: “Plastic grass is far from an eco-friendly alternative to natural grass. Covering your garden with a layer of plastic has absolutely no climate benefits at all. It will suffocate the soil beneath it, destroy all sources of food and habitat and have devastating consequences for microorganisms in the soil beneath as well as the bugs and birds above.”

artificial grass alternative - natural lawn

Mark Gush, Head of Environmental Horticulture at the RHS, explained: “Plastic grass creates a sterile, lifeless area in the garden which has been shown to harm earthworms, exacerbate flooding risk, contribute to the heat island effect, and shed tiny plastic pieces, know as microfibres, which are harmful to the health of animals and people.”

You can read more about the campaign and download the leaflet here.

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