In September 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 349, which prohibits the banning of artificial turf. The law was passed in response to the severe drought with the expectation that installation of this turf will reduce residential water use by people who cannot abandon the idea of having a lawn.
The use of artificial turf was debated in Carmel-by-the-Sea for the following reasons: Artificial turf requires soil compaction which damages tree and other plant roots (the soil compression removes space and oxygen from the soil and prevents the percolation of water into the soil). Other impacts include the prevention of natural debris composting and the loss of beneficial insect habitat and bird access to ground insects and worms.
Some experts also worried about the excess heat produced from the artificial materials, the bacteria that can build up from pet waste, and the rubber chemicals that will leach into the soil. Artificial turf also creates an artificial looking landscape contrary to the look and feel of an urban forest with gardens that Carmel-by-the-Sea and many long-time homeowners on Carmel Point strive to preserve. Water for washing and leaf blowers to remove fallen debris are still required to maintain the turf, the unnatural color fades over time, and most turf is only expected to have a 10-12 year life span (shorter if moles start damaging the material) which creates a recurring land fill and recycling problem.
There is no doubt that artificial turf requires less water than does a grass lawn. But keep in mind the factors above before deciding to install artificial turf. Our local landscapers are asking us to use natural materials such as stones, gravel, tree leaf or pine needle coverage from your trees, or other xeriscaping ground covers, all of which are more appropriate to use in this drought-prone region.
Last Updated 5/30/16