Highland Park Will Be Having None of Your Tacky Artificial Grass, Thank You

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Highland Park's city council has decided to ban fake plastic grass from the town's front yards, a scourge which according to one city official has overtaken at least three (3) properties.

The Morning News reports that council members voted on the new ordinance on Monday. Artificial turf will still be allowed in "side yards and back yards," though, provided that you obtain a special permit and keep the stuff out of sight.

Andrew Barr, a city council member, told the DMN after the vote that fake grass is "not in keeping with the design and quality of design we want to have in our town." He added that the decision was made to "address this before it affects the neighbors and the general public."

Barr also told the paper he's concerned about increasing "non-permeable surfaces," which could potentially impact the storm water system, he says. A five-second Google search for "permeable fake grass" turns up any number of fake turf companies that bill their faux-grass as being "100 percent permeable." Thrillingly, we also discovered that there is an entire Association of Synthetic Grass Installers.

Highland Park development services manager Kirk Smith was quoted in the DMN article as saying there were three properties with artificial grass in town. Only three, really?

"No," Smith told us just now, a little testily. "I said approximately three."

Smith also objected strongly to our referring to the new ordinance as a "ban."

"It's not banned in the town," he said. "There are just provisions on where it can and can't be on the property. It can still be in the side and rear yards."

Smith said that "inquiries have been received for the last few years" from artificial grass-installers eager to install their artificial grass throughout Highland Park. That, he said, spurred staff discussions on regulating it.

Unlike council member Barr, Smith said, "runoff wasn't one of the considerations" city staff considered in making their recommendation. They also considered the upsides of fake grass, he said: "The proponent is irrigation water that doesn't have to be put on the yard, so you've got water conservation."

But ultimately, he added, the decision was made to limit the grass to side and backyards. Why?

"I don't have an opinion on that," Smith replied. "I don't have a direct answer for that. That's going to be our council's decisions on where they wanted to see it and didn't want to see it."

Although there are approximately three fake grass-havers in town, Smith said, "I don't know that any exists in the front yards." If so, he said, "They're grandfathered in. There's no provision in the ordinance to make them remove any that's already installed."

Highland Park isn't the first town to ban plastic grass. That honor seemingly belongs to Glendale, California, who outlawed turf in November of last year, citing the "plastic and chemicals" used (but like HP, they still allow it in backyards, where plastic and chemicals don't count). City officials said they'd press criminal charges against anybody who refused to replace their plastic lawns; in late July, one stubborn holdout was reportedly "two weeks away" from having a case filed against him in L.A. County Superior Court.

Incidentally, if you're in Highland Park looking for the other kind of fake grass, that's still illegal too. Without asking them directly, we feel absolutely confident that Highland Park officials would advise you to just go straight for the real thing.

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If I lived in this community, I think I'd immediately dig up my turf & install either foot high decorative sea grass or get rid of greenery altogether & install river rocks across the whole yard in protest!


Does HP allow xeriscaping in front lawns? I kind of doubt it.


While I understand the desire to not have fake grass, I wonder if they realize that one, artificial turf isn't still stuck in the Brady Bunch era, and two, that lawns require water, which their little city does very little to source on their own.


to "ban" such a product at times likes these where water is becoming scarcer and when food prices are going up due to the drought is beyond selfish. those that think the benefits of this product are out weighed by it's tackiness are the kind of people that really are ruining America's chance of moving on from its current state of dilemmas. 


i assume this product could be made of recycle materials and even though recycling plastic isn't really a green solution it is a step forward.


i wonder if Mr. Bar mows his own yard and how he feels about illegals. I bet he is against them and yet pays them to mow his very own yard. how do you feel about that Mr. Bar? does that not affect how you feel about your high end neighborhood?  bet it doesn't, so long as you are saving a few dollars, yet it makes no sense being that you'd save plenty of money on your water bill. so in the end i guess you are just scared of having a product that might make your neighbors think less of you. makes no sense, none at all. 




Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

Surely this mean the mondro turf at SMU will have to pulled too since I can see it from the street.

scottindallas topcommenter

fake grass might well result in trees dying.  If you don't water, especially when your trees are accustomed to regular watering, the shock will likely kill your trees.   Bermudagrass can grow without much additional water, though it won't grow in shade.  Horseherb And Woodviolets will work in shade with little to no additional water.  Any change like that must be made gradually to allow the established plants to adjust


What did you mean by "very little to source their own"? HP/UP has an independent water source, i.e. Grapevine Lake. They have their own treatment facilities. They decided back in the 30s that they didn't want to rely on the City of Dallas for water. Imagine that.


 @scottindallas sounds like you're afraid of losing business and are just here to make them excuses. anyone who is smart enough to know that trees need water could think of a way to make sure the trees are not forgotten.. jeez. 


 @scottindallas When installing artificial turf, you cap the irrigation (if there is one) but leave the bubblers at the trees so that they can be watered. You can also use drip lines for your flower beds. Please educate yourself before throwing out random thoughts of ignorance. Millions of sq feet of artificial turf has been installed in residential homes in Southern California and their trees are still alive:)

scottindallas topcommenter

 @lolpark people don't think that through very often.  In established neighborhoods like this the whole lot is generally covered with roots.  Bubblers as someone suggested would not suffice to cover the entire root zone of established trees. 


I encourage my customers to try to get their yards to stall out at this time of year--they remain green, but stop growing.  I don't fertilize in Summer, to lessen the water requirements, and am big in xero-scaping, native plants and trees.  Even a native tree, that can survive with no additional water, will likely need to be weaned off watering. 


I don't see a threat from artificial turf, I've covered lots of soil with gravel, stones and patios.  But, I tend to leave the sprinklers in place, rather than capping them off, and remind the customers to water during prolonged dry spells.  I suspect that trees actually save water, even if extra water must be given to them.  I hate to see established trees  die, they have many beneficial effects, and can't really be simply replaced, like shrubs or lesser plants

scottindallas topcommenter

 @kneighbors bubblers will not help established trees.  Capping the sprinklers will kill established trees if they've come to rely on that irrigation.  I've done landscaping for 25 years.  You, YOU need to educate YOURSELF before commenting.  You don't know what you're talking about. 

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