Artificial Turf War: Harold Leider Lists Reasons Why More People Should Go Green

Photos: Courtesy of Harold Leidner Landscape Architects

We’re big fans of artificial turf here at CandysDirt.com, as it’s a water-wise way to have a lawn without all of the seasonal maintenance of turfgrass. However, some homeowners associations have outlawed artificial turf despite its many benefits. One reader writes:

I am an interior designer who worked on a residential project for about three years, and was involved in every aspect of the the design of the home. The home is in a gated community called [redacted]. We submitted the plans to the architectural committee through the builder when we began the project and they were approved. Nowhere in the CCRs did it say that we had to submit further landscape plans for approval. When we got to the landscape design, we wanted a minimal look to coordinate with the home. We are empty nesters and wanted as little maintenance as possible. As a result, we decided to go with a combination of artificial grass, charcoal gravel, and minimal natural plants in both the front and back landscaping. The artificial grass is of a high-end quality that makes it very hard to tell if it is natural or artificial. 

Needless to say, our HOA sent us a denial notification giving us no reason. There is nothing in the CCRs that says you cannot have artificial grass. We’ve hired a lawyer to handle this and have had no success. We even offered to remove the artificial grass on  just the narrow crescent that aligns the sidewalk and they would not accept that. 

We would greatly appreciate any advice you have on this subject. With the new technology in artificial grass, there is no question that it is the way to go! With Texas heat and watering restrictions, this is a wonderful option. I really want to be the person that gets the board members, who are not keeping up with the times, to make a change! 

We asked our most-trusted landscaping expert, Harold Leidner of Harold Leidner Landscape Architects, to weigh in on this obviously contentious issue:
 

What are the benefits of using artificial turf from an aesthetic perspective? 

Harold Leidner: The benefits are many. Artificial turf is green year round— no need to worry about the dormancy of popular natural turfs like Bermuda or Zoysia.  If you want a natural green option in the winter time you are typically limited to Rye overseeding, which can lead to a whole other nightmare in itself.  Rye can and will choke out your permanent turf, so when summer comes around, the Rye dies and you’re left with dirt! With artificial turf, there is also no need to worry about pet waste turning portions yellow, or shade thinning areas out.  It will never get more consistent than it would with a great artificial option.

Not all artificial turf is created equal. Tell us: How has artificial turf improved? Does all fake grass have to look fake and do you have a company you would recommend?  

Harold Leidner: With any turf, the beauty is in the backing. We will only use a turf whose backing is 100 percent permeable and there are very few out there.  Additionally, we like to use versions that closely resemble natural turf with thin blades like those found in Bermuda and Zoysia options.  It is very hard if not impossible to emulate thicker blades like Fescue and St. Augustine and this goes a long way into playing into the realism of an artificial product.  For these reasons, we recommend using Conservation Grass.

From an environmental standpoint, how is artificial turf better than traditional turf? 

Harold Leidner:  The biggest user of water in the landscape is natural turf. Simply switching to an artificial option, will create an almost immediate impact on your water bill, plus you’ll be conserving our most precious resource. With more and more cities going to water rationing, this becomes increasingly important.  As an added bonus, there is no need to fertilize, pre- or post-emerge your yard leaving vast amounts of chemicals not to be dispersed in local watersheds.  

While artificial turf isn’t maintenance free, how much easier is it to manage than traditional lawn care?  

Harold Leidner: Artificial turf will require the occasional sanding and brushing, but simply put, a 500-square-foot area will pay for itself in fewer than three years when compared to the ongoing maintenance of natural turf, and the savings only continue to grow.

What are some ideal applications for artificial turf, and what are some places where artificial turf should be avoided? 

Harold Leidner: If you have any one or a combination of the following, artificial turf is made for you:

  • Poor drainage
  • Dense shade
  • Pet traffic

So, is there any reason why an HOA shouldn’t allow a homeowner to install artificial turf?  

Harold Leidner: The only reason an HOA should not allow artificial turf is if it is illegal within the city they are located or if a preferred vendor has not been selected. If you have a go-to guy or gal for all of your synthetic turf needs you can be sure the entire neighborhood is consistent with the same look and feel of the same product.