From drought-stricken California to lush Hawaii, local governments are experimenting with synthetic turf as a low-maintenance alternative to natural grass in medians and planter strips along city streets.
Now, Tacoma is getting into the act.
A crew from Garrison Creek Landscaping in Kent installed artificial grass along South Tacoma Way last week as part of a project to extend the Water Flume Line Trail between South M and Pine streets.
The turf, made of recycled materials, mostly is being installed in a narrow strip between the sidewalk and curb along South Tacoma Way. Cost for the turf and installation is $67,860.
“This is typically a tough location to keep grass growing and maintained, but having a material buffer between the pedestrians and the trail is a nice safety feature,” said Diane Sheesley, a city Public Works Department project manager.
Owner Brett Fashaw said the turf, which is manufactured in Georgia, can last up to 15 years, depending on the weather, and needs “no maintenance whatsoever.”
That includes no watering, no mowing and no fertilizing, Sheesley said.
She added that the turf is porous, which allows stormwater runoff from the sidewalk to percolate into the ground instead of running into sewers that drain into Puget Sound.
Sheesley said the infill material being used on the turf along South Tacoma Way is sand, not crumb rubber from recycled tires that has raised cancer concerns recently.
“This is a test project with about 500 square yards of turf, so you may or may not see more of this in the future,” she said. “We will see how this test performs and hopefully do other projects in the future.”