I used to be just as scornful as many when it came to synthetic grass. Fake. Artificial. Faux, to be snobby about it.
I’ve changed my mind.
I’m tired of seeing public playing fields beat to
sh__ mud by over-use.
Here’s Elgin public school, to take one location currently in the news:
That picture is from July last year, but I don’t imagine it is much better this year, maybe just muddier. And kids are probably being kept off it till the frost is gone to reduce tracking dirt into the school building.
A dozen blocks west, there is another school yard that I used to walk past every morning for about 25 years … I cannot count the number of times it has been re-seeded, re-sodded, top-dressed, plowed under and started again, usually by the school board but once the redo was donated by Domicile who wanted green grass in front of his new apartments he was selling … it even had an irrigation system laid in it for a few years, but water wasn’t the issue, it is overuse:
Some high-use spots are the easiest to persuade people to convert, like under play structures:
Or at prime public gathering spots, like this festival field in Toronto, which BTW looks an awful lot nicer and more useful than the lawn at Dewar slough in front of our city hall or LeBreton Common after a festival:
Further west, the Plouffe Park soccer mini-fields are always a mud slough in front of the goal posts. Drainage isn’t the issue … the field has under-grass drains criss crossing it.
Let’s face it, urban folks want to use the land more often than mother nature agrees. And more folks want to use the same space than the vegetation carrying capacity permits.
And its only going to get worse, as population density grows in the downtown neighbourhoods and west side.
Instead of sowing and sowing and reaping mud, check out this Montreal soccer field in a downtown park:
This field was used for scheduled team sports, and between times for pick up games and day-camp activities. I saw it in use at 7am and at 10.30pm and every ninute in between. It was NEVER unused. That is good use of valuable park space.
This is not:
In a west side park, freshly reconstructed and rebuilt and then grass seeded in the foregound (Watson must have approved the money being saved by seed vs sod) the seeded area was out of use for months while the seed sprouted. And then out of use for months due to the noxious weeds that grew up (one reminder sign is still visible in the centre foreground if you squint enough). Some kids will have outgrown this park by time the grass was ready.
Not every park should be astroturfed. But if we are to get get better utilization out of our park spaces, we are going to have to make them more useful to more people at more times. Synthetic grass is one solution.