TEMPE, Ariz. – Synthetic grasses such as NewGrass™ are a valid alternative in promoting water conservation, according to preliminary results from a long-term research project.
The conclusion is significant because for years, artificial lawns have been ignored as a serious water conservation measure.
“I think it’s probably a good niche product for a lot of people,” said Marc Campbell, a water planning analyst with the Salt River Project (SRP) in Tempe, Ariz., and director of the research project.
After more than 1½ years of observing, testing and evaluating several plots of artificial grass similar to NewGrass™, the SRP – the country’s third-largest public utility company – says it can give synthetic grass the thumbs up as a genuine water conservation alternative.
The SRP put synthetic grass side-by-side with natural local grasses and xeriscaping as part of its ongoing efforts to give consumers new and better information about water conservation alternatives, including products like NewGrass™.
“We did consumer focus groups, asking people about water conservation supplies, landscaping, conservation measures and possible new programs,” Campbell said. “We asked them what they’d like to know about grass options and about landscaping alternatives.”
“We learned that despite our efforts to push xeriscaping, there were a majority of people that just wanted to have a natural grass landscape,” Campbell said.
That’s a big concern in an area where a draught is ongoing and, according to Campbell, an estimated 60 percent of all residential water use is for outdoor landscaping and swimming pools.
SRP wanted to study synthetic grass as a conservation measure because it is gaining acceptance as a landscaping alternative in general, and an increasing number of cities are “starting to consider it a little more seriously” as well, Campbell said.
“Generally, people are looking at synthetic grass a little more seriously than they did a couple of years ago,” he said. “We want to give the general public and the cities here in the Valley the information they need to make their own decisions about whether to use it and if it’s right for them.”