Deeply confused in Garden Grove –
More on lawn and the law


Artificial_turfRebates for lawn replacement are a good thing, right?  In Orange County, CA and other semi-desert parts of the state, residents who switch to fake turf are entitled to $300 rebates – unless they live in Garden Grove. The powers that be in that aesthetically anxious town have outlawed artificial lawn as unattractive.  Sure, real gardeners pretty much gag at the thought of "astroturf" but in arid climates it may make more sense than the real stuff.  But guess what else is illegal in Garden Grove – letting your grass go brown in the summer. Think Garden Grove can stay green indefinitely with those bozos in charge?

Billy Goodnick jumped on the story and responded with his own fair and balanced assessment of the pro’s and con’s of going faux.

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Susan’s a garden writer, teacher and activist in the Washington, D.C. area. Co-founder of GardenRant, she also wrote for national gardening magazines and independent garden centers before retiring in 2014. Now she has time for these projects:

  • Founding and now managing the pro-science educational nonprofit GOOD GARDENING VIDEOS that finds and promotes the best videos on YouTube for teaching people to garden.
  • Creating and managing DC GARDENS, the nonprofit campaign to promote the public gardens of the Washington, D.C. area, and gardening by locals.
  • Creating and editing the community website GREENBELT ONLINE to serve her adopted hometown of Greenbelt, Maryland (a “New Deal Utopia” founded in 1937).

Contact Susan via email or by leaving a comment here.

Photo by Stephen Brown.


  1. I have what might be a stupid question: doesn’t plastic grass get dirty? What happens to the stuff that gets deposited on it? Where does it go? Do you have to hose it off? Power wash it? Shampoo it? Is plastic grass like a toupee, or more like a hair weave? What happens to all the bugs and worms under the plastic–do they suffocate? And does plastic grass fade and get chalky eventually, like those plastic lawn chairs and vinyl siding? Or is that the point when you rip the whole thing off and lay down fresh plastic?

  2. Yes it gets dirty, and if your dog uses it for a bathroom make sure you wash it regularly. Otherwise, a blower suffices. It’s like a toupee- it comes in big rolls. My understanding is that yes, it does wipe out the critters beneath. As to fading- the manufacturers say no, but who knows? It’s really only been a big industry fir what, five years?

  3. If the temps get as high as reported in the link, then you’re sterilizing the soil underneath it– nothing will live underneath it. Also, if you live somewhere where it rains fairly frequently, you’ll get mold growing in it eventually. I play a lot of golf, and sometimes a course might use artificial turf on a t-box, or use it in the winter, and all of the driving ranges use it. It can get quite smelly and grungy because it’s like an outdoor carpet. While some of it can be quite lush, that means more surface area to trap debris and harbor mold.

    Really- give up the lawn- if you can’t grow one, why not go native? You can grow a grass lawn that’s organic and even (for a size that you could afford to astro-turf) use a push mower. I don’t see a huge benefit- after that astro turf gets nasty, it’ll go straight to the incinerator or landfill.

  4. In reply to DJ Monet,

    What you say of astro-turf is true, but that is a product of the past.

    Artificial lawns, synthetic grass of 2008 are very different.

    They are 100% recycleable, lead-free, cleaning products available to keep surface bacteria free, comes in different textures, etc…

    We live in the desert, and converted our lawn…we wonder why we didn’t do it sooner.

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