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Dave & Dujanovic: Is it time for Utah to switch to artificial grass?

green grass field in big city park

SALT LAKE CITY — Hey, Utah, is it time to scrap your green lawn for artificial grass to save water now that the governor has declared  a state of emergency due to the “exceptional” drought? 

About 60% of the residential water supply in Utah is used for growing our green lawns. 

Taun Beddes of the KSL Greenhouse Show and USU Extension joined Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to explain the pros and cons behind the fake grass that we may need to transition to while stuck in a drought.

Artificial grass typically costs $5.50 to $18.75 per square foot.

Dave isn’t willing to shell out that much green for fake green.

“They’re doing it all over Arizona, I just returned from Arizona. It seems like Utah’s way behind the times when I compare it to my home state of Arizona. This artificial turf is everywhere [in Arizona] going into new homes and parking strips and backyards. What’s your take on Utah, are we behind the times?” Debbie asked.

“We’re usually about 15 to 20 years behind cities like Denver, Phoenix, and Las Vegas as far as what we’re doing for water conservation,” Beddes said.

“I didn’t realize this isn’t the case for most of Utah, but in Kaysville we have secondary water,” Dave said. “Is secondary water common in Utah?”

“It is. A lot of newer areas that are just being developed don’t have secondary water,” Beddes said. 

“What’s the upside to fake turf, Taun, and what’s the downside to fake turf?” Debbie asked.

“The upside is, there’s no watering. You may have to hose it down every once while to get the dust off . . .  but there’s literally no water, and the technology has improved so much that you can play on it. It’s cushioned, and it looks almost like turf.

“There’s a growing number of people concerned that because the artificial turf is made of plastic, and it’s treated with certain things to keep it pliable and soft, that they don’t really want their kids on it because it may be off-gassing chemicals,” Beddes said.

Beddes also warned that artificial turf becomes extremely hot under the summer sun.

“In Phoenix where it gets really hot during summer, it’s not playable because it gets so hot,” he said.

“Grass stays cool because it’s literally evaporating water. . . . I don’t know why anybody be playing ball in 115 degrees, but if you were to expose bare skin to it, it could actually cause blistering burns on you,” he said.

Debbie asked Dave what his best argument is against replacing his natural lawn with artificial grass.

“I don’t have wheelbarrows full of cash. I’ll make it simple, too expensive,” he said.

Then, Debbie laid out her argument for installing turf.

“Utah, you seem very 1970s with your plush grass in the parking strips and your front yards and your backyards. Hey, look, fake grass to me makes life so much easier. My argument for putting in fake grass — I’m gonna set aside the cost, Dave, I don’t agree with you whatsoever. I think it’s worth it for all of the water it’s going to save.

“Now that we’re in a state of emergency for a drought, and also the time it’s going to save me for the rest of this summer mowing my backyard and making sure it stays watered,” she said.

Related:

Wild Weather: Utah in the midst of an ‘exceptional’ drought

Gov. Cox declares Utah’s drought a state of emergency

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.