Chelsea Flower Show bans fake grass in first time in over a decade

Artificial grass goes against the Royal Horticultural Society’s ‘ethos and views on plastic’

Kate Ng
Saturday 14 May 2022 11:44 BST

The Chelsea Flower Show has banned the use of artificial grass from this year’s show because it goes against its stance against plastic.

It comes after the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) said it would ban fake grass from the shows from 2022, following a row last year with John Lewis and artificial lawn firm Easigrass.

Easigrass used its Chelsea Flower Show gold medal to promote its product in John Lewis stores last year. The RHS said medal wins should not be used in advertising as they are not endorsements.

Fake grass was first allowed in the annual show in 2010, when it was used in a Chelsea garden design that had a cave, which was “very dark and wouldn’t support any plants”.

However, the RHS has always advocated using real plants in the show over artificial grass and fake flowers.

Ed Horne, head of communications at the RHS, told The Times: “We launched our sustainability strategy last year and fake grass is just not in line with our ethos and views on plastic.

“We recommend using real grass because of its environmental benefits, which include supporting wildlife, mitigating flooding and cooling the environment.”

Sales of artificial grass soared in 2020, during the coronavirus lockdown, with Google showing a 185 per cent jump in searches in May 2020 compared to the same month the year before.

However, conservationists and environmental campaigners have protested the use of fake lawns, as it increases plastic production and removes habitats for British wildlife.

Chris Packham, presenter of the BBC’s Springwatch programme, criticised gardeners who use fake grass in a tweet last year.

He said that artificial turfs create a “desolate plastic wasteland”, adding sarcastically: “We haven’t found solace in respite in the nature in our gardens over the last year have we? No, so just rip it up and live in Barbies Lego land [sic] then.”

S*** Lawns, a Twitter account that aims to “showcase the hideous trend of plastic lawns”, has introduced petitions to urge the government to ban artificial grass for residential properties and impose an “ecological damage tax” on the product.

The petitions have garnered 7,339 and 11, 319 signatures respectively.

However, in response to a similar petition last year that gathered 32,731 sigantures, the government said it has “no plans to ban the use of artificial grass”.

The petition stated that plastic lawns can result in microplastics polluting the soil underneath, creates huge volumes of plastic, and have no wildlife benefit, among other reasons for the ban.

But the government said: “We prefer to help people and companies make the right choice, rather than banning items outright.

“However, where progress is insufficient, we will explore alternative policy measures, which may involve bans as part of a wider strategic approach.”

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