7 Ways Artificial Grass Benefits the Environment
You are likely aware that choosing artificial grass over natural grass can save tens of thousands of gallons of water every year. While this is common knowledge, some of the other benefits of artificial grass do not seem to be quite as well known. For example, did you know that choosing artificial grass can help you reduce the number of single-use plastics you purchase? Or that it can help keep contaminants out of your local water supply?
Let’s take a look at seven ways artificial turf benefits the environment, while also benefitting you.
Artificial Grass Benefits #1: Water Conservation
A 2014 study found that “the environmental impacts of artificial turf fields were lower than equivalent grass fields” over the life cycle of artificial grass. (1) The most well-known reason for this is the significant water conservation that is possible with synthetic grass.
The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) reports that a 1,000-square-foot, natural grass lawn needs about 35,000 gallons of water each year to stay green and healthy. Once you factor in the estimate that people are over-watering their landscaping by up to 60%, that same lawn is actually consuming up to 75,000 gallons of water every year (ACWA.com). Therefore, by replacing a natural grass lawn with an artificial grass lawn, you can save somewhere between 35,000 and 75,000 gallons of water each year.
Water conservation is incredibly important for the environment, particularly in drought-prone California, but it is also important to note that reducing your water consumption this significantly will also have a beneficial impact on your water bill.
Check out How Much Water Can I Save with Artificial Grass to read more about saving water with synthetic turf and to see how you can save more than 1,000,000 gallons of water over the lifespan of a manufactured lawn.
Water is used during the manufacturing process and will be needed on occasion to rinse down your artificial lawn, particularly in areas used as pet restrooms. So, your synthetic grass does use some water, but it is nowhere near the amount you will save over its lifetime if you choose artificial turf over natural grass.
Artificial Grass Benefits #2: Reduced Energy Use and Air Pollution
One of the many benefits of artificial grass is that it never needs to be mowed or edged. This saves you time, since you can spend less time caring for your lawn. It also saves you money, since you do not have to buy gas for a lawnmower or use electricity to power an edger. In regards to the environment, not needing powered equipment to care for your lawn helps you conserve energy, reduce the use of fossil fuels, and reduce your carbon footprint and contribution to air pollution.
Manufacturing, transporting, and installing synthetic turf uses energy and contributes to carbon emissions; however, there is still an overall reduction when you compare the one-time manufacture, transportation, and installation of artificial turf with the ongoing maintenance needs a natural grass lawn would have over the same lifespan.
For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that using a gas lawn mower for one hour produces emissions equivalent to 11 cars on the road for the same amount of time. In fact, gas lawn mowers contribute 5% of the air pollution we experience in the U.S. every year, which is not much of a surprise considering the 800 million gallons of gas used annually by U.S. residents to mow their lawns (EPA.gov).
Artificial Grass Benefits #3: Fewer Chemicals
Natural grass lawns require quite a bit of maintenance to keep them healthy and looking their best. This often includes fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. This means chemicals on your lawn, which means chemicals around your children, pets, and other family members and guests. It also means those chemicals will be tracked inside your house on little paws and feet.
For the environment, it means more chemicals in the soil, in the air, and contaminating the water by runoff going into storm drains.
Choosing artificial turf instead of conventional grass means fewer chemicals used in your yard maintenance and fewer chemicals you are putting into the soil, air, and water.
Artificial Grass Benefits #4: Reduced Single-Use Plastics
The above-mentioned fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides usually come in single-use plastic bags, jugs, or spray bottles. By choosing synthetic grass that does not require these items, you can reduce the amount of single-use plastics you and your family purchase each year. You also get the added benefit of saving money by not having to purchase these lawn care products and saving time by not having to apply them to your lawn to try to keep it healthy and functioning properly.
Artificial Grass Benefits #5: Reduced Landfill Contributions
We all know that natural grass is biodegradable and artificial grass is not. Because of this, it comes as a surprise to many that one of the benefits of artificial grass is potentially being able to reduce your contributions to landfills. If your grass clippings regularly end up in your waste bin, then you are one of the many U.S. residents contributing to the millions of tons of yard clippings that end up in landfills each year. Just in 2018, the total weight for yard clippings ending up in landfills reached 10,530,000 tons (EPA.gov).
This does not take into account other items used in lawn care that end up in landfills as well, such as product containers, lawnmowers, and other lawn care equipment. The lifespan of artificial turf can be about 20 years (or more), so just think about how much product, equipment, and clippings from a natural grass lawn could accumulate in landfills over that time.
Also, there are lots of turf products that are made from recycled plastic, which means artificial grass can help reduce waste that way as well.
In order to make sure this environmental benefit holds true, you need to keep your artificial grass out of a landfill when it comes to the end of its useful life. It is generally easier and cheaper for synthetic turf to simply be thrown away, but it can be recycled.
Artificial Grass Benefits #6: Reduced Noise Pollution
It may seem that noise pollution would only affect your living environment and the quality of life in your neighborhood, but it can also have a significant environmental impact. In particular, the National Park Service (NPS) points out that noise pollution negatively affects wildlife, including interfering with their ability to avoid predators, protect their young, and find mates. Due to this interference, noise pollution can be a driving force behind some species becoming threatened or extinct (NPS.gov).
Choosing artificial grass, which does not require a lawnmower, edger, or other noisy equipment helps reduce noise pollution in your area.
Artificial Grass Benefits #7: Limit Erosion and Runoff
Sloped areas can be difficult to landscape and maintain, but a lack of proper care and maintenance can lead to runoff and erosion. This, in turn, can negatively impact natural habitats and the local water supply by distributing sediment and contaminants. If you plant a natural grass lawn on a slope, it will be difficult to mow and maintain. It will also require fertilizers and pesticides that will then make their way to the water supply by way of runoff caused by irrigation or rain. If you opt for artificial grass instead, you can better control erosion and runoff to limit the negative impact the slope can have on nearby habitats or your local water supply.
1. Cheng H, Hu Y, Reinhard M. Environmental and health impacts of artificial turf: a review. Environ Sci Technol. 2014 Feb 18;48(4):2114-29. doi: 10.1021/es4044193. Epub 2014 Feb 6. PMID: 24467230.