Homebuilders could be banned from using fake grass

Two workers Installing artificial grass in modern garden of home
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The government is reportedly planning to ban new homes from including artificial lawns, also known as ‘fake grass’.

Artificial turf is a surface of synthetic fibres made to look like natural grass and has been in widespread use since the 1960s. It is popular among homebuilders and those transforming their garden design because it is low-maintenance, hardy, pet-friendly, and cost-effective.

But environmental campaigners say artificial lawns have a number of detrimental effects, and the government could be about to step in to prevent fake grass being used in new housing schemes. 

Why is fake grass so controversial?

Homebuilders and homeowners like artificial grass for several reasons, such as that it doesn’t go dry and brown in hot weather, or muddy in the cold and rain – it can be enjoyed all year round.

It also offers flexibility because it can be placed anywhere regular grass would struggle to grow and its appearance can be customised. And hayfever sufferers also often use artificial grass because it is allergy-free and weed resistant.

But the problem with fake grass is that it is usually made from plastic, and creating plastic emits carbon and uses fossil fuels. Real grass also offers sanctuary to declining insect populations and helps with drainage.

Tim Waterman, professor of landscape theory at the Bartlett, told the Architects’ Journal: “Public awareness of the evils of plastic grass has been mounting in recent years.

“These evils include consumption of fossil fuels for manufacture, [emission] of endocrine disruptors (chemicals which interfere with human hormones) and other toxins and toxicants, annihilation of soils and the rest of the webs of biodiversity they are part of the problem of disposal of tonnes of unrecyclable matter, and the brainless swapping of mowing and fertilising something growing for vacuuming and deodorising something deteriorating.”

Artificial turf has already been banned from the Chelsea Flower Show and other events run by the Royal Horticultural Society.

Residential back garden landscaped with light and dark grey porcelain paving slabs and artificial grass

The reported ban would not apply to private gardens (Image credit: Getty Images)

How will a fake grass ban be implemented?

The Daily Telegraph claims housing secretary Michael Gove will stop new housing schemes from using it in proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The reported ban would apply to open lawns on an estate but not to sports pitches or private gardens.

Local councils will be expected to enforce the ban. Planners will be given the power to reject new housing schemes that intend to use fake grass.

Mr Waterman said the plans are insufficient and there is ‘evidence for a total ban on fake lawns’.

A government spokesperson approached by the Telegraph neither confirmed nor denied the report.

Sam Webb

Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world.  As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.