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
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
health
News
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
News
The spider makes its break for freedom
VIDEO
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
books
Property search
Latest stories from i100
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

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical and Electrical Engineer

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrig...

Recruitment Genius: Concierge and Porter

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a customer focused, pro...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer / Front-End Designer - City of London

£27000 - £33000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End Devel...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Customer Support Technician

£15000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Waterlooville based softwa...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot