City Folk Keen to fake it – lawn that is.
Artificial grass, once considered a bit tacky, has been around for decades. But now it’s making a kitschy comeback – popping up in backyards, apartment patios, commercial buildings, bars, schools and even inside some homes.
There are lots of reasons for the rise in popularity of synthetic grass, particularly for residential properties, says John Petrie of Urban Turf Solutions in Auckland.
They include poor results with real grass, an easy-to-maintain backyard, it’s child- and pet-friendly, it looks immaculate all the time and because it doesn’t come cheap – $85 to $115 a square metre including installation – fake grass adds value to a property, Mr Petrie says.
“There’s no maintenance, no mowing, no watering, it’s not going to get muddy, it’s not going to get puddling, it’s not going to dry out, and kids can play on it.”
Lower grades of the grass sell for around $40 a metre on a roll.
Mr Petrie said homeowners wanted a product that would look better for longer and exactly the same without any maintenance for 365 days a year.
“It tends to be an evolving aspiration of particularly Aucklanders in high-profile residential situations who want something that looks absolutely pristine every day of the year.”
He said orders for the green turf, which had improved in recent years to look as much like real grass as possible, had gone from one a week to one a day in just a few years.
This week alone Mr Petrie had given quotes to homeowners whose backyards ranged from 200sqm to 700sqm – between $20,000 and $80,000 worth of fake lawn.
One bar in Ponsonby even planned to install it to get into the spirit of the Cricket World Cup.
Families are the main drivers of the market in Auckland, Mr Petrie said, with many preferring fake grass for their children.
“A lot of young mums want something that the kids can play on that they know is going to be safe.”
It’s not as hard as it might seem and animals can do their business on it without issue.
Time-poor professionals are also opting for the perfectly manicured lawns which can be bought from DIY stores and garden centres.
Remuera’s Kings Plant Barn manager Richard Lanigan said the centre began stocking the turf six months ago because of demand.
“It’s definitely a growing thing in the domestic market due to hot, dry summers and people not wanting to spend too much on keeping a lawn.”
Fake grass was cost-effective because it was a one-off outlay for a lawn that could last 20 years, he said.
Sean Hilditch of Growing Gardens said one client spent $40,000 on 400sq m of fake grass for their roof garden where a real lawn had cost them $10,000 a year to maintain.
Landscape Designer Ltd director Jules Moore said last year she had four requests for artificial grass, including for a home-based mini putt and a dog run.
Before that she’d never been asked about fake grass.
“In the past you’d wash your mouth out with soap and water if you mentioned artificial turf.”
Ms Moore said smaller sections had dictated some client requests as well as practicality for others.
Mitre10 Mega in Botany said the product was “flying off the shelves”.
Yvonne Leonard and Paul Edge had been struggling with their kikuyu grass lawn when they decided they’d had enough.
Six months ago the Auckland couple invested in fake grass as part of their landscaping overhaul, and they’ve never looked back.
“The kikuyu grass is very obtrusive and aggressive and it’s not a very nice grass and it’s really hard to mow,” Ms Leonard said.
The time-poor professionals, who both work in the hospitality industry, didn’t bother spraying the kikuyu grass and re-sowing it, but opted for artificial grass instead.
“In the long term we decided it would be better to get the fake grass.”
Ms Leonard said the new fake lawn at their Mt Wellington home was “fantastic”.
“It looks amazing. It looks the same all the time. It needs the minimum maintenance. The colour is beautiful and that’s our time saved on the weekend when we could be doing other things that we enjoy. I really do love the lawn.”
Even the couple’s Maltese-shih tzu dog can’t mess the lawn up.
“We just pick up her do-do.”
The grass covers 74sq m and cost $91 per s qm to buy, installed. “It’s a phenomenal product,” said Mr Edge. Everyone who comes over says how real it looks and they can’t believe it. We’d never go back.”