Fashion for artificial lawns could harm garden industry’s green image, seed firm warns

Johnsons Lawn Seed has warned that reports of rising sales of artificial turf could damage the garden industry’s green image and undermine the sector’s efforts to reduce its dependency on unsustainable plastic.


A report in The Daily Mail, headlined ‘As plastic plants get more realistic, here’s the lazy gardener’s guide to faking it,’ told how sales of artificial turf rose by 136% at B&M stores in 2018. But Johnsons Lawn Seed, the UK’s oldest lawn seed brand, pointed out that the rising tide of plastic turf on sale at retail outlets flies in the face of consumer demand for organic and sustainable gardening products.


Johnsons Lawn Seed’s Guy Jenkins said: “It has been well documented that consumers are looking to garden in a sustainable manner and reduce their use of plastics in the garden. We believe that retail outlets should be throwing the spotlight on the environmental benefits of real lawns, instead of promoting artificial turf that only serves to cover gardens in a sea of unsustainable plastic.”


Guy added: “The Daily Mail report claimed that artificial grass “will look lush for at least seven years” but the reality can be quite different. Plastic grass needs sweeping and cleaning, while pet mess has to be scrubbed-up. Maintenance-free is a myth: moss and weeds can still take root in fake lawns as debris builds-up, and artificial turf in shady areas is particularly prone to weed infestations.


“At the end of its short life, or earlier if it’s damaged, artificial turf is often thrown into landfill where it can take hundreds of years to break down. Many types of fake lawn cannot be recycled. Consumers will be appalled at this easily avoidable waste, which comes at a time when influential authorities such as Sir David Attenborough are leading the fight against polluting plastics.”


Johnsons is reminding stockists of the benefits of real lawns – a sharp contrast to the throw-away culture of fake turf. Grass plays a vital role in absorbing rainfall and preventing flash flooding during storms, a major problem that can blight built-up areas. Artificial turf often becomes uncomfortably hot to walk or sit on when the mercury rises, but real lawns remain significantly cooler, helping city-dwellers to relax during hot summers.


Real lawns also play a key role in the ecosystem, absorbing CO2 and releasing oxygen. At a time of increasing concern over poor air quality in the UK’s towns and cities, Johnsons points out that just 235m2 of grass can release sufficient oxygen for a family of four, every day. Lawns also play a role in softening the impact of unwanted city noise, while a lush lawn creates a natural habitat for insects and pollinators to go about their business.


Guy summed-up: “Artificial turf is often marketed with the promise of no more mowing, despite the fact that many gardeners enjoy keeping lawns in tip-top condition, especially in summer. However, we recognise that mowing can be an issue for consumers with little time on their hands, and for gardeners who lack the physical ability to mow. Robotic lawnmowers – and not fake lawns – should play an increasing role in the future, helping gardeners to keep lawns in shape when they’re not able to get out into the garden.


“As smart technology continues to grow, prices of robotic mowers are set to fall. Many of the latest robotic lawnmowers are eco-friendly as they’re powered by rechargeable batteries and use GPS to navigate their way around the garden and cut lawns evenly. Some have the technology to be activated at the swipe of a smartphone app or voice command, while others use online weather forecasts to ensure they quietly mow in optimum conditions, come day or night. The evolution of such devices will play an important role in helping lawn-owners who lack the time to tend their grass, ensuring they can carry on enjoying the benefits of a real lawn without resorting to plastic turf,” Guy explained.


In a further move that offers retailers additional potential to expand sales in the lawncare sector, Johnsons has unveiled Super Smart Lawn Feed this spring. Its environmentally-friendly formula is 100% organic, using beneficial bacteria, soluble mycorrhizae and seaweed extract to feed lawns, enhance the natural green colour and strengthen roots.



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