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Published on October 31st, 2016 | by Carolyn Fortuna

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Herbicides, Pesticides, Lawns: The Synthetic Turf Option

A National Science Foundation survey of U.S. households asked people how they felt about the risks and hazards associated with turf care.The results were quite surprising. People who apply chemicals to their lawns are more likely than non-chemical users to believe that lawn care practices have a negative impact on local ecology. That’s a problem.  Turfscape

It seems clear, then, that people recognize the negative effects of intensive lawn management practices, such as frequent mowing and spraying of herbicides and fertilizers..Sometimes called apolitical behavior, they fail to connect their daily habits to broader ecological and economic systems. When people discuss their lawn management, they tend to disregard environmental concerns in lieu of cultural pressures, such as perceived real estate growth and being seen by the community as responsible, compliant citizens. That’s according to Paul Robbins in Lawn People: How Grasses, Weeds, and Chemicals Make Us Who We Are (2012).

In fact, most people in the Western world view lawns as a “natural” and even a compulsory element of the home landscape, setting aside social, symbolic, ecological, or aesthetic values (Stewart et al., 2009). Contemporary turfgrass yards are part of an array of linkages to complex ecosystems, vast chemical production economies, community values and priorities, and personal aesthetics and obligations.  

Understanding the social motives behind the strong attachment of modern Western society to lawns is the first step to introducing potential alternative solutions. Since turfgrasses, chemical companies, communities, and individuals co-inhabit the world, it is a dilemma to locate viable alternatives to this powerful dynamic. A lawn creates certain kinds of cultural expressions; it is a symbol of the responsible domestic American. Thus, the search for alternatives to the lawn and associated negative environmental effects must combine common-sense solutions with acknowledgments of the dynamics behind turfgrass culture.

Why Lawn Care and Pesticides Create Potential Environmental Hazards

Pesticides are human-made and naturally occurring chemicals that control insects, weeds, fungi, and other pests that destroy crops (Gill & Garg, 2014). Pesticides are all-too-often perceived as crucial to enhancing agricultural production, but, at the same time, they are toxic recalcitrant substances.

The EPA permits over 200 different pesticides to be used for lawn care, and these are often mixed together and sold as chemical combinations. They are intentionally toxic substances. The environmental impact of lawns largely depends on the intensity of management (Cameron et al., 2012).  If fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides are used, the surrounding surface water and groundwater may be affected. Indeed, commonly used lawn-care chemicals can persist in soil and water for weeks, which can lead to the contamination of aquatic resources and local wildlife.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, homeowners use up to 10 times more chemical pesticides per acre on their lawns than farmers use on crops. Some pesticides commonly used on lawns and gardens in U.S. states have been banned or restricted in other countries because of concerns about health effects. For example, many Canadian municipalities have banned or severely restricted the use of lawn-care pesticides.

A growing body of evidence in scientific literature shows that pesticide exposure can adversely affect neurological, respiratory, immune, and endocrine systems in humans, even at low levels. Children are especially sensitive to pesticide exposure as they take in more pesticides relative to their body weight than adults. Children have developing organ systems that are more vulnerable and less able to detoxify harmful chemicals. Some chemicals commonly used on lawns and gardens have been associated with birth defects, mutations, adverse reproductive effects, and cancer in laboratory animals (EHHI).  

A Lawn without Chemicals or Health Hazards

Fortunately, there are proven safe, effective, and affordable ways to maintain attractive lawns and playable fields without the use of toxic pesticides. One such option is called Turfscape, a synthetic turf that is created out of engineered materials. Innovative Turfscape is an alternative to traditional lawns, and it helps more eco-conscious residential customers conserve water, cut down on the costs of lawn care, and maintain the cultural connection to the appearance and pride in a home lawn.  

And because no pesticides or fertilizers are needed to keep a Turfscape® lawn healthy, Turfscape® diminishes health impacts to exposed populations like children, the elderly, and pets. Local aquifers remain unaffected.  So, too, are wildlife and their habitats protected.

The Turfscape Solution

Let’s see how Turfscape can answer concerns of homeowners and others who feel compelled to grow lawns.

Perspectives about Traditional Lawns How Turfscape® is a Solution to Concerns about Lawns
Lawn growers trade off environmental values for aesthetics. They think there’s nothing as clean and tidy as a long, trimmed expanse of grass in the yard or as frontage. With Turfscape®, one doesn’t have to give up on the lush, green aesthetic appeal of ordinary grass. Turfscape® looks just like a traditional, green lawn.  Its verdant color, soft texture, and even length are quite similar to any lawn you’d see driving across the U.S.
Being accepted in the wider community of homeowners and business associates means consistency with local standards around yard care and lawns. Turfscape® fits in well within any homeowner association or planned community requirements. Indeed, Turfscape® never needs to be cut or watered—instead the turf remains green and of a trimmed length.  Regardless of foul weather or weekend plans, a Turfscape® lawn will always look its best.
There is a common, positive view of lawns as functional and accessible areas in parks, playgrounds, and private gardens. A lawn can be counted on to be durable, have a consistent surface, and be safe for kids and sports. Turfscape® is a perfectly firm and even surface for the public to walk on. Select Turfscape® systems have been specifically designed, engineered, and tested for playground areas, providing exceptional protection from various fall heights when installed with specific underlying pad systems.
Pets need lawns for exercise, waste elimination, and play. Pets love Turfscape® and so do owners. No more torn up lawns and muddy footprints. Urine passes through it just like grass, and the rest can be simply scooped and rinsed off, or you can allow rainwater to self-clean your Turfscape®. Ask about pet-specific infill options.
A lawn’s symbolic value can allow people enjoyment through sensory perceptions even when they are not permitted to enter or use the lawn area (Ignatieva, 2015). If you’re interested in a beautiful, cost-efficient, alternative to ordinary grass, Turfscape® is right for you. Turfscape® is the green alternative that requires virtually no water or chemicals and is low maintenance. If you want landscaping that looks just like well-manicured grass and which can be accessed without pedestrian impacts, Turfscape® is perfect for you.
Lawn clippings can be mulched; they’re part of good recycling initiatives. Turfscape® is 100 percent recyclable and can be reused and reengineered for all sorts of products.
Homeowners feel that a traditional lawn is necessary to maintain real estate value Because Turfscape® has the same curb appeal as a traditional lawn, real estate values do not decline with a Turfscape® yard.

Turfscape is a leading synthetic turf landscape solutions provider in North America, delivering scientifically engineered, environmentally-friendly synthetic turf that saves residential, municipal, and commercial customers time and money, improves aesthetic appeal, and ensures a safe surface for families, children, and pets.Ordinary grass requires a great deal of care: proper feeding, protective chemicals and aeration, not to mention an incredible amount of water.  Turfscape will help you to keep your environmental values in tact, so you’ll sleep a little better tonight with a clear conscience, knowing that now you’re doing your part with your lawn to help save the world.

This post has been sponsored by Turfscape

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About the Author

writes from her home in Chepachet, RI, where she advocates with her lake association for chemical-free solutions to eradicate invasive species. She’s an organic gardener, nature lover, and semi-vegetarian (no red meat since 1980) who draws upon digital media literacy and learning to spread the word about sustainability issues. Please follow me on Twitter and Facebook and Google+



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