Why Natural Grass Can’t Handle the Stress of Heavy Foot Traffic
Summer has arrived and it’s time to take advantage of all your lawn has to offer. Perhaps you’re looking forward to letting the kids go outside and play soccer in the backyard. Maybe you’ll get the big dog you’ve always wanted. Maybe this will be the summer you throw that monster barbecue that you’ve been planning for ages, the one where you’ll invite all of the neighbors over to relax and eat.
Not so fast.
If you have a traditional, natural lawn, you might have to adjust your plans. For all of its beauty, natural grass is ill-equipped to handle the stress of heavy foot traffic. In short, if you throw regular outdoor parties on the lawn, let some of the neighborhood kids regularly play games on the front yard, or have your dog actively run laps on it, you might end up spending a frustrating amount of time having to arrange for recovery efforts in the face of a damaged lawn.
The fact is, grass is a brittle plant. Even when it is green and healthy, it doesn’t take much for it to break down. Here are a few reasons why.
1. The Blades: Every individual blade of grass is vulnerable to foot traffic. Too many steps on it can damage the crown and upper roots. This is why hosting a party on the lawn can be devastating for its health and appearance. The foot traffic will damage the grass with every step.
2. The Loose Soil: Too much activity when wearing shoes or riding vehicles that dig into or pierce the ground will loosen the soil and tear up chunks of the earth. This is the reason why playing catch while wearing baseball cleats or practicing your dribbling while wearing soccer cleats in the backyard might not be a good idea.
3. Compaction: The result of constant, back-and forth walking and running is soil compaction, which has several detrimental effects on the soil and lawn:
Increased bulk density, which destroys the larger capillaries in the soil.
Decreased water infiltration, resulting in reduced ability to irrigate soil.
Decreased percolation, resulting in decreased drainage.
Reduced oxygen diffusion rate, resulting in nutrient deficiencies and reduced microorganism activity.
Compaction is the reason why repeated social gatherings or several highly active pets can kill a lawn and make it extremely difficult to recover and soil damage has long term effects.
Lawn sensitivity to foot traffic forces homeowners to go other places, such as a neighborhood park, to do the activities that they should be able to do at home. This creates a dilemma for every situation in which the cost of lawn damage is weighed against the inconvenience of a change in plans.
Of course, there is an alternative to this problem: installing artificial turf. Artificial turf is not susceptible to the durability issues that come along with natural grass. Artificial grass is designed to stay intact, even under the pressures of high use, so its individual blades are not as susceptible to damage from foot traffic. Artificial grass is anchored together, so it doesn’t loosen. And finally, compaction is a non-issue for artificial turf.
Artificial grass allows homeowners to make big plans for their lawns without the worries associated with damage and the ensuing repair. Adults are free to throw social gatherings and barbecues. Kids are free to play sports. Pets are free to run around and roam.
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