As an intermittently active verge gardener, I applaud people who care enough about their streetscape to look after the patch outside their front fence. At home we have low-maintenance native trees, shrubs and ground covers.
Some people put in much more effort growing kerbside kitchen gardens. It always gladdens my heart to see them, especially because of the trust involved in planting produce in a public place. The expectation must be that the harvest will be shared, but not plundered.
Others care for patches of lawn, mowing and watering and edging, and, while less interesting to me than shrubs and veges, verge grass has its place. But I draw the line at plastic.
A councillor recently sought to change the rules that forbid the use of synthetic grass on verges in the Marion council area. The issue went to the vote but a decision was deferred until later this month.
Cr Luke Hutchinson was behind the motion to change regulations that he supported when they were introduced last year. He’d had a change of heart, he told Louise Nunn of the CoastCity Weekly Messenger, because he believed fake turf could help to achieve council’s goal of greener streets.
What is he thinking? The only thing that’s green about fake grass is the colour. Don’t be swayed by the pitch that it’s a sustainable alternative to grass because it doesn’t need mowing (by greenhouse gas-emitting machines) or require the application of pesticides and herbicides. Instead, let’s just count the ways that make this proposal a bad idea. First, synthetic grass is yet more plastic in a world overrun with the stuff.
Apart from the emissions involved in its manufacture – it is, after all, a petrochemical product originally developed by none other than Monsanto – its particles break down and can end up in our waterways. And it can also emit nasty chemicals.
Sure, it has holes in it, but it can increase run-off, and it starves the soil and tree roots of water and nutrients. And try walking on it on a hot day. Even on mild days, it gets so hot that it kills the vital soil microbes and fungi so important to trees’ health. That’s if they haven’t already been killed off by the compacting that’s recommended as part of the installation.
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