Artificial turf is becoming a solution that allows for a modicum of greenery without the effort of actually maintaining a lawn.
But should you be able to put astroturf on your technically council-owned verge?
It’s a question that’s the centre of a feud between residents and the City of Marion in Adelaide’s south-west.
The council recently voted to allow residents to lay artificial turf on their verges. In response, resident Jane Preston drafted a change.org petition calling for the decision.
Ms Preston was driven to protest because the decision didn’t make any sense given all the other work council is doing on environmental issues.
“They’ve done wonderful things here for the City of Marion,” she said. “They’ve done action on climate change. They’ve also helped with the promotion that we do of plastic free July. They’ve done more tree plantings.
“I, personally, think it doesn’t fit with the what the Marion council are trying to do. It doesn’t make good sense to encourage people to plant artificial turf.”
Local environmentalist Emma Sandery signed the petition because it was “a matter of principle”.
“We all know that with climate change our cities and suburbs are going to get hotter and hotter. They’re already built up environments; there’s not much greenery,” she said.
“The other thing that I think is a big problem with it is that it’s made of plastic, and at the end of its life will need to be disposed of to landfill.”
The vote split the council, with mayor Kris Hanna’s deciding vote ensuring fake turf is now allowed. The council declined several times to speak to Domain.
For his part, Cr Hutchinson tweeted that the result ensured that “if a resident wishes to install artificial turf – a robust application process will ensure quality products and maintenance will be required.”
Common sense prevails @CityofMarion – if a resident wishes to install artificial turf – a robust application process will ensure quality products and maintenance will be required. pic.twitter.com/fOLSWptvwp
— Cr Luke Hutchinson (@luke4marion) April 23, 2019
In the ensuing brouhaha, Cr Hutchison was forced to stress that the council was not rolling out artificial turf itself.
“[The] council has seen unregulated artificial turf being laid for years; now [the] council has put in the appropriate controls for those very few people would like to replace dolomite,” he tweeted.
“Unauthorised installations are likely to face removal unless they meet the guidelines. [The] council will also recommend alternatives such as shade tolerant plants. Meanwhile, [the] council has also resolved to invest in three times more street trees to reduce the heat island effect.”
Naturespace Consulting owner Ian Murphy said schools and childcare centres often used synthetic grass, and it was popular in regional areas where water access can be difficult.
He does, however, see some negative impacts of using a synthetic product.
“If it’s not maintained [to] even the bare minimum, it looks ordinary,” he said. “It needs to be topped up with sand or fibre to keep it looking good. You still get weeds coming through.”
He also noted the heat problem that some residents are concerned about.
“It’s something that is always an issue,” he said. “That is the concern, that it does form its own ecosystem because of the heat and humidity that it has. If it’s in the sun, and it’s a hot day, it gets to the point where it’s hot to the touch.
“But there are products that are coming out now that do reduce that heat down considerably. And really, if it’s going to be in an environment where it needs to be cooler, then using those products is probably the way to go.”