There is a good article and overview in this month’s Sunset Magazine about synthetic turf and the pros and cons of the material versus natural lawn and other alternatives.
The author’s experience in a xeriscaped garden with synthetic turf reveals something that more and more people are realizing, synthetic turf has come a long way from Astroturf:
Then we went to a party at the house of a landscape designer who watered, she said, for only eight minutes a week, and did her own gardening, with no mowing. This was real xeriscaping: She had succulents, and drought-tolerant trees, and pink-flowering cactus, and
Mexican beach pebbles ― and two stunning green rectangles of perfect lawn in the back. “The grass,” another guest whispered to me. “It’s not real.”
“It’s not?” I asked. It looked gorgeously real.
“Touch it,” she said.
I did, and it was true: The grass was fake.
It wasn’t Astroturf, exactly, but long, smooth blades of grass that looked exactly like real grass but happened to be plastic. It had been laid down like a carpet, over prepared ground.
What we are seeing in the landscapes where we use synthetic turf is that it is a great hybrid material. It has the properties of both a hard and a soft surface, with the maintenance requirements more like a patio space that needs to be hosed down occasionally, with a feel and utility like a natural sod lawn. Yes there are trade offs with the material, but given the current water crisis in California synthetic turf makes more and more sense in a variety of applications.