Five Reasons to Think About Where the Kids Will Play Come Fall and Winter

June 26, 2014

Summer may have just begun. But in addition to vacations and sunburn, it brings five good reminders about why you should consider replacing your turf lawn or gravel or dirt play area with natural-feeling, low-maintenance artificial grass like NewGrass®:

  1. You’re already tired of the hassles — and costs — that go along with watering and maintaining your turf lawn.
  2. Worse, you’re already sad over seeing your natural sod grass wither under the rules of local water restrictions.
  3. Your gravel or dirt play areas have turned to messy mud lots during the spring rains (and they’ll be hard as rock come winter)
  4. Your children have suffered injuries on those same play areas — or on the lawn.
  5. The grass that’s great for romping on is making everyone’s allergies go off the charts.

1. The hassles and costs of watering and maintaining your lawn. WaterSense, an EPA partnership program, estimates that nationwide, irrigating home landscapes accounts for nearly one-third of all residential water use, totaling nearly 9 billion gallons per day. In some regions, like California and the Southwest, as much as 60 percent of home’s water bill goes to keeping lawns and gardens green.
The Earth Institute at Columbia University reports that for lawns in the United States, we use 580 million gallons of gasoline for lawnmowers and spend:

  • $25 billion for the lawn care industry
  • $5.25 million on fossil fuel-derived fertilizers
  • $700 million on 67 million pounds of synthetic pesticides

2. Droughts and the expansion of water restrictions. NewGrass® applauds and supports water conservation nationwide. Water is, after all, among our most important natural resources — and the one for which we haven’t found a man-made or natural option. In response to ongoing draught conditions and calls for water conservation, local water districts, regional government authorities, and states from coast to coast have implemented drastic residential watering restrictions.

According to the Association of California Water Agencies, 59 agencies and cities — including Los Angeles — have enacted mandatory restrictions or declared Stage 1, 2, 3 or 5 water alerts. Several dozen other cities have suggested voluntary restrictions. Several of the largest cities in Texas have ordered mandatory water restrictions.

3. The mess of gravel and dirt play areas in rainy or snowy weather. A study published by JAMA Pediatrics found that nearly half of all U.S. preschoolers don’t even have one chance each day to play outdoors under a parent’s supervision. And that’s in good weather!

“Preschool age children should get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day,” says the report’s author, Pooja Tandon, MD, MPH, of Seattle Children’s Research Institute. “But many preschoolers are not meeting that recommendation. Young children need more opportunities to play outdoors and to help them be more active.”

“NewGrass® is an eco-friendly, natural-looking and incredibly safe alternative to any other kind of surface under our play sets,” says company president Gregory Goehner. “It eliminates the kind of injuries a child can suffer from a fall on gravel, sand or dirt. We’re also very big on the fact that NewGrass® is tested lead-safe.

Sand and wood chips create cushioned surfaces, but both are messy, scatter easily, routinely need to be replenished and are unusable after a snowfall or heavy rain.

4. Injuries on turf grass and gravel play areas. More than 500,000 children a year are injured on playground equipment, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Three-fourths of playground injuries are attributed to falls, so choosing an appropriate surface is the most important playground decision that school officials will make.

Obviously, the same is true when considering a surface for a play area at home. In fact, about one-fourth of all serious playground injuries occur in the backyard, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Children aren’t the only victims of injuries related to turf grass and play areas. The Earth Institute says 60,000 to 70,000 severe accidents result from lawnmowers every year.

5. Allergies and other ailments spawned by sod grass. Itchy eyes and nose, nasal discharge, blocked nasal passages, sinus headache, sneezing, wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath are all symptoms of allergies caused by dust, mold, pollen, grass and trees.
Allergies have no cure. Prevention is the only course of action – trying to eliminate or minimize a child’s exposure to allergens. Another option obviously is synthetic grass. NewGrass® for example, has fibers that are broadloom-tufted from high-quality polyethylene, a component not considered an allergen.

Play areas covered by sand and wood chips, they can attract cats, which consider these coverings to be one big litter box.

Beyond the Back Yard, Artificial Grass Answers Very Interesting Design Challenges

April 21, 2014

The most obvious uses of artificial grass are becoming clear: conserving water, reducing the use of fertilizers and pesticides, eliminating yard work, and having a natural-feeling green lawn for year-round use in backyards, front yards, play areas, kennels, and general commercial landscaping.

But inventive customers of NewGrass® synthetic grass and other artificial turfs have discovered myriad novel uses for this natural-looking landscaping alternative. Examples range from architecture to interior design to very practical urban uses.

Synthetic lawn has been used as an inspired covering for all kinds of patios, indoor and outdoor walls, outdoor signage, even on ceilings (one Los Angeles restaurant hung fake-grass panels from its ceiling to cover the industrial duct work; another used artificial grass as the background for its external signage).

As part of creating a casual atmosphere and meeting LEED standards, Skype’s corporate headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., features several small park-like settings indoors, compete with synthetic lawn, wood lawn chairs, and benches.

In Amsterdam, the interior design of Google’s offices was inspired by the area’s cultural history and visual landscape. The design includes small 1960s motor vans that serve as meeting rooms, in faux-roadside settings complete with artificial grass, lawn chairs, and fake grills.

“This is a great example of why NewGrass® and similar quality artificial grasses make great sense for designing in small, indoor spaces, either permanently or on a temporary basis,” said Gregory Goehner, president of NewGrass. “It can be installed nearly anywhere, and because it doesn’t require dirt or watering like turf grass does, it’s very lightweight and incredibly clean.”

Also internationally, NewGrass® has been used as part of PARK(ing) Day, an annual worldwide event in which artists, designers and neighbors transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks.

“It’s very gratifying to see the temporary use of NewGrass® projects like in PARKING(ing) Day that create new forms of small, almost micro-size, public spaces in urban areas,” Goehner said.

In bustling New York City, meanwhile, synthetic grass provides the floor covering for Soaked, a skyscraper-topping, outdoor bar atop the Mondrian SoHo hotel. Elsewhere in Gotham, NewGrass® has been the ground cover of Park Here, a 0.1-acre temporary indoor pop-up park in the Nolita neighborhood of Manhattan, north of Little Italy and Chinatown, and has landscaped balcony terraces of the ultra-modern Trump Place.

In Atlanta, the producers of the TV show Movie and a Makeover replicated a backyard patio complete with lawn on an Atlanta rooftop using NewGrass®.

“We’re very proud and always excited to learn how designers, urban planners, homeowners and others of our customers find ways to use NewGrass® to solve design and environmental challenges to make life a little more interesting and certainly a lot more livable,” Goehner said.

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