A city ordinance has been amended to allow the use of artificial turf in front yards.
The change was a result of state legislation regarding drought tolerant landscaping that was signed into law in 2015.
The state legislation prohibits local jurisdictions from enacting or enforcing an ordinance or regulation that would prohibit the installation of drought tolerant landscaping, artificial turf or synthetic grass on residential property.
The artificial turf surface temperature can exceed 150 degrees on a hot summer day. It also increases the soil temperature, which could have a detrimental effect on soil fungi that colonize the tree’s absorbing roots. The fungi help the tree with mineral absorption and play a protective role in keeping harmful pathogens away. Certain tree species – oak, pine and beech — require the fungi, and any soil conditions that disrupt these fungi will cause a decline in the tree’s health.
The state legislation allows local jurisdictions to prohibit artificial turf in the drip line of trees. The drip line is an imaginary line on the ground directly below the outermost tips of the branches. The reason for this restriction is the concern about the impacts of artificial turf on trees.
The amended city ordinance prohibits the installation of artificial turf within the drip line of a tree. The ordinance requires the artificial turf and its substrate to be permeable. There is no permit requirement for the installation of artificial turf.
In addition to the tree concerns, there are storm water runoff and pollution issues with the use of artificial turf. The product has a lifespan of 10 to 15 years and requires water to clean it and chemicals to clean it when animals urinate on it.
By Dan Pskowski Viewpoint staff