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Turf Wars

We wrote about gardening in April’s newsletter but we all know – don’t we? – that gardening proper can’t begin in Scotland till May. We must be patient and wait till the risk of frost is truly over for another year.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that we can’t start dreaming and planning.

Chief blogger Joyce just bought a new (second-hand) greenhouse, so of course we are full of enthusiasm at the minute, imagining all the tasty vegetables and interesting plants we will be nurturing this summer. Feel free to ask us in October how we got on!

Gardening is one of those pastimes that has always been around, giving pleasure to many while baffling others. Fashions come and fashions go. Now it’s all about bio-diversity and leaving at least a patch of your garden to go a bit wild. A great excuse for sitting out and enjoying a glass of something instead of sweating over the lawnmower.

We tend to think of gardeners as relaxed, happy people. We don’t generally associate them with militancy and campaigns and much as love a bit of people power, we were quite surprised to find that the Society of Garden Designers, with support from the Royal Horticultural Society and the Landscape Institute, has launched a campaign and needs our support.

What is this campaign?

Say No to Plastic Grass and Plants

To be honest, although we have noticed increasing numbers of gardens now have artificial grass, we had no idea that fully 10% of UK households have replaced their lawns with fake grass. But now that we know it is one in 10, we’d like to know more about the environmental impact this is having. If any.

Oh my, what a can of worms we have opened. Ironic really, since there are now no worms in these particular gardens!

No, no, they are now covered with a layer of plastic that suffocates the soil beneath them, destroying all sources of food and habitat. So, no micro-organisms, no bugs and no birds, bees or butterflies to delight us when they fly in to visit. In fact, everything around the artificial lawn dies.

Lawns are usually home to a vast eco-system of organisms, microbes, invertebrates and plant life, but this sterile version will never sprout a daisy or buttercup to make us smile. It will never accommodate the dandelions that produce valuable food before other flowers begin to bloom.

There’s more. Fake grass raises the temperature in urban areas and increases the chances of flash flooding. It leaks micro-plastics into waterways, causes plastic pollution and just think of the greenhouse gas emissions generated in its production. And it doesn’t last forever. After around 15 years it will need to be replaced, so the old ones will end up in landfill polluting the planet forever.

On a purely practical level, if you – like us – enjoy sitting in the garden as often as possible, ask yourself this. Would you choose to sit on a bit lump of uncomfortable plastic? Do you know that feeling of having to peel your sticky legs off a plastic chair in the summer? Give us grass stains on our clothes any time!

We get it. You want something low-maintenance.

Though, we should just mention that artificial grass is not entirely maintenance-free. You have to clean it in much the same way as you have to clean your carpets!

What are the alternatives?

· A simple rectangular lawn is much quicker to mow than an irregular one

· Let Low-Mow be your motto this summer. Let the grass grow a little longer and provide food and shelter for all kinds of creatures

· Tapestry lawns do not actually contain grass, but a combination low-growing flowering plants that look great. Why not do a little digging (ha!) on the internet to find out more?

· An area of wildflowers beats the monoculture of grass

· You could ditch the grass completely and replace it with gravel (much kinder than concrete)

And with that, we’re off to the greenhouse!


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