Economics of Synthetic Turf

December 11th, 2012  |  Published in Landscape Sustainability, ROI of Sustainable Landscaping

We know what you are thinking; get out the plastic pink flamingos and brightly colored beach chairs. But not so synthetic turf Economics of Synthetic Turffast!  We’ve decided to give synthetic turf a serious look and do a cost comparison to see if it is a worthy alternative to their water-loving counterpart.

Synthetic turf, better known by the pioneering brand Astro-Turf, a product first developed and mass produced by Monsanto, became readily available in the 1960’s.  But up until the 1990’s synthetic turf was used primarily as a replacement for athletic fields for sports which were typically played on grass surfaces because of it’s durable qualities allowing more games to be played and less maintenance time involved.

Landscapers and homeowners have slowly caught on and today synthetic turf products are made by countless different manufacturers which have vastly improved their overall appearance and durability.

To illustrate synthetic turf’s viability and cost effectiveness we have broken down the expenses to install and maintain a 2,000 SQ.FT. lawn using both alternatives.  The numbers might surprise you.

lawncost maintain year one Economics of Synthetic Turf

lawncost year one cost1 Economics of Synthetic Turfartificial turf year one cost1 Economics of Synthetic TurfSo argument settled right? Natural grass lawns win!  Not quite.  The below graph illustrates your return on investment (ROI) for a 20 year period. As you can see the initial installation costs of a synthetic turf lawn is considerably more expensive but the ongoing maintenance costs and water bills for a traditional grass lawn quickly add up while the synthetic turf costs remain unchanged.  Also, for those of you who already have a lawn and don’t want to change anything, you’ll see that just before 20 years you will have spent the cost of synthetic turf on maintenance.

synthetic turf ROI Economics of Synthetic TurfAs you will note from the above graph, if you were to install synthetic turf in place of natural grass you will see a return on your investment in roughly 5 years and every following year thereafter you will have saved approximately $750 on a 2000 SQ.FT. lawn.  After 10 years, you could save over $3,500.

The savings in costs, however, are just the icing on the cake.  A typical 2,000 SQ.FT. grass lawn can consume up to 7,000 gallons of water per year to keep it looking green and healthy.  That’s enough water to quench your thirst for 40 years!  And not only is synthetic turf water conserving and fertilizer-free, but many Eco-conscious brands utilize recycled petroleum products for the majority of their turf systems meaning hundreds of pounds of plastic waste will be saved from the landfills and go directly into making your landscape more beautiful. In the proper setting, synthetic turf really does have a place in our drying landscapes.

Should you feel bad if you’re still not completely sold on the idea of  replacing your beloved grass lawns?  Absolutely not.  After-all, this study is simply meant to suggest one more sustainable alternative to traditional grass lawns. It’s our hunch, however, that as water becomes more scarce and synthetic turf products become increasingly indistinguishable from their natural living counterparts, the demand for synthetic turf lawns, minus the pink flamingos and beach chairs, will increase dramatically.

Study of Lawn in Our Gardens: Part II

April 22nd, 2011  |  Published in Landscape Sustainability, Water Conservation

Alternatives to Conventional Turf

turf alternative 001 Study of Lawn in Our Gardens: Part IIIn Part I of this article, we examined lawn and its place in California’s landscape.  And for a variety of reasons, it is clear the ubiquitous use of lawn in California is inappropriate (perhaps borderline irresponsible) because of a host of negative environmental impacts.    But does this mean there is no place for lawns in our landscape?  Absolutely not!

It is vital homeowners and landscape professionals closely examine the rationale for maintaining or installing a new area of lawn.   The following list is a series of helpful questions to ask when considering the environmental and financial appropriateness of lawn in your landscape.  After answering these questions, jot down a list of the pros and cons.  Often times, decisions to tough questions can be more easily answered when scrutinized on paper.

Do I enjoy maintaining my lawn?

For many, the act of tending a lawn is rather tedious, time-consuming, and incredibly repetitive.  Would you rather be doing something else on your weekends? Read the rest of this entry »