The grass is always greener

... on the other side of the fence, especially when it's fake. Susie Mesure reports as sales take off

The sunniest summer since 1976 has left many gardens resembling the Serengeti plains. But something, at least, is growing. Sales of fake grass are soaring, as gardeners opt for artificial turf to replace their bleached lawns.

And it isn't just the green-fingered who are turning to imitation turf. John Terry will make footballing history today, when he leads Chelsea out to play Manchester United at Wembley in the first match to be played there on a partly synthetic surface.

The controversial pitch, which has been relaid 12 times since the stadium was rebuilt, is now 10 per cent fake after Wembley called in the Dutch company Desso to help it reinforce the turf. Wembley joins six Premier League clubs that also play on partly fake pitches – which have come a long way from the AstroTurf days of the mid-1980s.

Retailers say the recent hot weather has prompted a rush for artificial turf, with some firms reporting sales up by more than a third on last year. Evergreens, Britain's biggest artificial grass supplier, said peak sales this summer had hit 15,000 sq m a week, 35 per cent higher than last year. The DIY giant B&Q has sold 22,000 sq m, more than twice as much fake grass as expected when it launched the product earlier this year. "Initially, it was only a 10-store trial to establish if there was a market for it; it's now in 113 stores and selling well across the country," said a spokesperson for the chain.

Fake grass dates back to the 1960s, but it took a long time to catch on. It appeared at the Chelsea Flower Show this year for the first time, although only to carpet the inside of a cave rather than as an alternative lawn, which remains against the Royal Horticultural Society's rules.

Sales are strongest in London, where it makes a popular covering for roof terraces, and in the North-east, according to Evergreens. Celebrity fans include Amanda Holden and the singer Craig David. Schools are also favouring fake turf: one supplier said it was "completely booked up this month" with demand from schools.

Matthew Spedding, from As Good As Grass, said Cowes Week and Crufts were among those calling on their services. "We even did a snow-themed wedding with white grass," he said.

Fans like fake grass because it takes no looking after and doesn't fade for years. It also provides a soft alternative under children's climbing frames.

But although some gardening columnists are in favour, not everyone is convinced of its merits. Pippa Greenwood, who appears regularly on BBC2's Gardeners' World, is among the detractors. "I hate it from the depths of my heart. It's unbelievably revolting. I cannot imagine why it's popular. It's not comfy to sit on and environmentally it's a disaster zone. There's no way to support any ecosystem under plastic turf," she said.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
Property search
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz