Rise in homeowners opting for artificial grass

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By Kirsty Topping

MOWING the lawn is considered such a chore that thousands of Scots have thrown away their mowers and opted for artificial grass instead.

Despite a typical bill of more than 5,000 to get rid of grass for good, businesses that specialise in laying Astroturf report a big increase in demand.

Brian Hamilton, a former midfielder for Hearts, Hibs and St Mirren, swapped football for the artificial grass market around eight years ago.

Mr Hamilton said that when his own business started in 2007 it laid about 2,000 sq ft of artificial lawn.

“The next year that more than doubled to 5,000. Now we are laying 15,000 sq ft a year, which is quite a few wee gardens – and we hope to do more,’ he said.

“It may be three times more expensive than normal turf but it will last for 15 or 20 years,’ he added.

Colin Griffin runs Scotgreens, a Stirling-based firm which originally specialised in supplying golf greens but moved into supplying artificial lawns to residential properties.

He said:

“I did 100 jobs a year two years ago. Last year I did 200 jobs which means I’ve almost doubled my business.

“I do one, sometimes two, jobs a day and maybe do six gardens a week.

“My turnover is ten times what it was five years ago, traffic to my website has increased 12-fold in four years and the number of phonecalls has been scary. “

Peter Campbell, owner of Midlothian firm The Turf Shop, said:

“In the past, one in 50 of all the lawns we laid was artificial. Now that figure’s more like one in five. “

Hassle-free, perfect lawns do not come cheap. Artificial grass can cost up to 60 a square metre to supply and fit.

And with the average size of a garden at 90 square metres, homeowners face a typical bill of 5,400 if they want to consign their mower to the shed forever.

Dr Kerry Kirk, a physiotherapist, and her restaurateur husband, Stuart Thom, spent thousands on an artificial lawn at their Edinburgh home.

“There’s the time saving aspect,’ said Dr Kirk, 39.

“It took as long to get the lawnmover out and the extension cable out as it did to mow the lawn, which was a hassle.

“Before I was having to mow the lawn every five days. I’m delighted with it. “

The couple have three children, Daniel, four, Michael, two and Tara, one. Dr Kirk said:

“We had laid an actual lawn laid just ten months before we got this one but between the kids and the dogs it was trashed in that time.

“The artificial lawns I had seen before were like the ones on sports pitches which looked really artificial, but technology has moved on and it looks really natural. “

John and Gill Lawson, also from Edinburgh, spent 6,500 having 120 square metres of artificial turf laid just days after moving into their new home.

John, 44, a dentist, said the expense was well worth it.

“It’s low maintenance, you don’t have to cut it at all,’ he said.

Gill, 30, added:

“It’s great because if it’s been raining and it’s really muddy and the kids have been playing outside they don’t bring it into the house.

But not everyone loves artificial turf. David Knott, curator of the Living Collection at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, said:

“In an urban landscape, having lots of artificial grass would see a warming effect.

“It provides a habitat for birds, insects and things which live in the ground like earthworms; by putting an artificial surface on it you are capping and making it sterile. “

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