Botanical Mechanical: Can Artificial Grass and Flora really coexist in the Same Garden?

If an Englishman’s home is his castle (or an Englishwoman’s for that matter), then surely our gardens are our vast and sprawling fiefdoms, to be ruled over and defended. Perhaps it’s a quirk of our combined history, climate and geography then that we have become a nation of gardeners. There’s certainly no getting away from it – a lot of us take our gardens and what we have in them very seriously indeed.

The Chelsea Turning Point

Perhaps it was no surprise then, that when, in 2010, the entry of an artificial grass display into the Chelsea Flower Show was announced for the first time in the show’s 148 year history a few cages were rattled. Neither was the disdain from some quarters two years later when a display featuring artificial grass went on to win a Gold Medal at the show. Both were the work of Easigrass and long time collaborator Tony Smith and they can be seen as representing a major shift in attitudes towards artificial grass in our gardens.

 

Whilst it’s true that the Chelsea Flower Show is a glamorous and glitzy world away from the romanticised yet down-to-earth idylls of our very own English gardens, it does nonetheless represent an aspiration for so many gardeners, landscapers and horticulturalists, both amateur and professional. The existence of artificial grass in Tony Smith’s 2012 display, ‘Green with…’ showed manufactured synthetic grass alongside orchids, ferns and tulips, all of which have been seen as objects of desire at different historical periods. Has astroturf really become so emboldened as to compare itself alongside this magnificent floral trinity?

Well, no. In fact, it’s completely misleading to make comparisons between the plastic grass blade and the flower petal in this manner. Tony’s display never sought to compare the artificial with the real, but instead by lining the cage, in which the enviable flora are contained, in fake turf it’s more as if Tony is seeking to frame and juxtapose his subject matter. This is about contrast not comparison.

Contrast not Comparison

The contrast found in Tony’s display is true of many domestic gardens with artificial grass lawns. There is a general misapprehension that artificial grass intrudes upon the small slice of nature we find in our backyards and seeks to usurp it. I couldn’t disagree more. In many of the gardens we’ve worked on over the years, beautiful and varied flora remains pivotal to the look and feel of the spaces being created. Artificial grass provides a highly realistic and enduring canvas on which to create a floral masterpiece. For many aspiring gardeners and plant lovers with poor quality turf or constantly shaded lawns, artificial grass can be the only way to fully realise their vision.

Of course it would be misleading to say that the appeal of artificial grass is limited to the aesthetic. For most of us the garden serves a more functional role in the family home and most of our customers are initially attracted to the child / pet friendly appeal of our products as well as the durability and low maintenance. But as much as artificial grass can be a lifestyle choice for those with young families, busy lives and little to no time at all to tend to their garden, it can also be a lifestyle choice for the devotee with plenty of time to tend to his or her garden.

With huge advancements in the manufacturing process, modern astroturf is now bringing its own intrinsic aesthetic appeal that can transform, as well as complement any outside environment.

The realism of the modern product is so advanced now that fake lawns can look and feel eerily like the real thing, whilst retaining a perennial perfection that is unachievable with real turf all year round, especially in our unpredictable and increasingly extreme English weather.

Despite remaining a divisive issue amongst gardeners, come rain or shine, flowerbed or Wendy house, it seems that for an increasing number of us, artificial grass is here to stay.

 

 

About the Author: Anthony Gallagher is the Managing Director of artificial grass company Easigrass, a network of award-winning franchisees and international licensed partners. In 2010, under his leadership, Easigrass became the first artificial grass company in the world to exhibit at the Chelsea Flower Show, then going on to win a Gold Medal in 2012. You can follow Easigrass on Twitter, Facebook or browse their YouTube channel.

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