Riverview woman's fake lawn plan gets clipped


Article Courtesy of The Tampa Tribune


Published July 23, 2010

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RIVERVIEW - Driving toward Dawn Blake's suburban house, you would swear she irrigates her uniformly green lawn daily.

On the contrary, the synthetic lawn Blake had installed several months ago requires no irrigation at all, her main reason for having it installed.

"I'd like to be environmentally responsible," said Blake, who lost her husband to cancer last year and is looking for ways to cut her maintenance time. "My main reason for putting it down was because of the drought. And I have no green thumb."

Her homeowner's association board members apparently don't see green, when they view Blake's lawn. They see violation. And they say the fake grass must go.

Her violation notice said the synthetic lawn doesn't meet the Boyette Farms covenants and is not "Florida-friendly." The association's agent, Yvonne Pugliese, declined to discuss the violation with a Tampa Tribune reporter and declined to provide the names of any board members who might speak about it.

The debate over synthetic lawns versus natural lawns has been ongoing for several years now. Some cities have outlawed the synthetic grass while others have embraced it as a water-saving godsend.

The Internet is filled with arguments for and against the fake grass.

For Blake, the argument is simple. The 

Dawn Blake of Riverview had artificial turf installed in her yard to cut back on water use during the drought and to cut back on maintenance, since her husband died last year. Her homeowners’ association has declined to approve the synthetic grass.

synthetic lawn she had installed by Evergreen Lawn Solutions requires no water and no chemicals, such as pesticides and fertilizers. And according to company owner Ricky Reynolds, it has nothing in it that would cause toxic runoff.


"They are selling so much of this in Las Vegas, Arizona and other areas that are likely to have drought," Reynolds said. "It is finally coming out this way, and people are starting to buy it and you will see more and more of it."

Not everyone agrees it's a good alternative to natural grass, though.

Jason Kruse, University of Florida environmental horticulture assistant professor, said his research shows that artificial turf gets much hotter than natural turf. A recent check found a 60-degree difference between the two.

Kruse's colleague, Esen Momol, director of the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program, said there is no solid data to show that artificial turf does not leach out harmful materials. She also contends that because of Florida's humid climate, fungi and algae can grow on it.

"We promote environmentally-friendly landscapes and artificial turf is not a match for Florida-friendly landscaping," Momol said.

"We've been putting (artificial turf) down throughout the state, from Miami up toward Tallahassee," Evergreen's Reynolds said. "This is the first complaint from a homeowners' association. It hasn't been an issue up until now."