By Mordechai Schmutter

 

In general, most people don’t see the draw of artificial grass, other than the obvious appeal of outdoor carpeting. If you’re living somewhere where you can swing a lawn, why wouldn’t you want real plants?

Though maybe it would be good for inside your home. Particularly if you’re looking for a carpet that you can rub your feet on and it won’t shock you. And that you don’t have to vacuum very often.

(“What?! It’s supposed to have dirt in it!”)

It would also make a decent carpet for your sukkah.

Yet a lot of people get fake grass, because there are numerous benefits, according to fake-grass salesmen. It’s not like real grass bears fruit. Plus you have to keep mowing it and dealing with weeds. Fake grass doesn’t have that. There are no fake weeds.

You also don’t have to water fake grass, though people water their real lawns when they don’t have to anyway. My neighbor sometimes waters his lawn in the rain. So I suppose you can water fake grass if you want to. It is waterproof. I assume.

(“Quick! It’s raining! Bring the grass inside or it’ll start growing stuff!”)

Also, fake grass is green!

No kidding.

Very funny. Proponents of fake grass say that because it doesn’t need water, fertilizer, or mowing, it’s good for the environment, such as the grass and trees and such.

Wait. So not having grass is good for the grass? Also, doesn’t real grass produce oxygen?

On the other hand, there are better plants for the environment than grass. Sure, it’s a plant, but it’s not like we’re letting it grow. If it grows to a certain height, we get a ticket.

But there are definitely situations where it makes sense to get fake grass. For example, it’s great if you have a rooftop garden and don’t want to keep schlepping the hose up there.

Also, if you live in a hot area with a lot of droughts, it makes sense to go with fake grass, though that fake grass will get hot enough to melt your shoes. Because that’s something the salesmen don’t tell you about fake grass — you’re basically leaving plastic in the sun all day.

It also might make sense to get fake grass if you have a skinny strip of land that you can’t mow.

That was our reason. My wife and I recently built a retaining wall between our property and the neighbor’s, because his property is two feet higher and we didn’t want it to fall into ours — particularly the new fence he had decided to build right before that, between 9 and 20 inches from the property line. (This isn’t an estimate. His fence is crooked. Part of it is 9 and part of it is 20.)

So now we have a thin patch of land between the bottom of our neighbor’s fence and the top of our wall that is technically his property, but that there’s no way he’s going to take care of until whatever grows there comes above his 7-foot fence. So it’s really our problem. It’s too narrow to get a mower up there and too wide to bother with a weed whacker, which we don’t want to buy just to cut what is technically not our grass.

So we’re giving him fake grass. We’re not fake-grass people, but it’s not our property, so …

It’s not even for aesthetic purposes. We’re just trying to put down something to keep grass from growing there. So the logical thing to do is put down something that looks like grass. That way, the grass will say, “Never mind here. There already is grass.”

We’re fooling the grass.

The other reason we went with fake grass is that they say that it comes out cheaper than real grass, unless you hire people to install it for you. So you might want to install it yourself. What’s the worst that’ll happen if you mess up? Real grass will grow underneath it?

You can even buy fake grass secondhand, which isn’t really something you can do with traditional grass. Plus you can take it with you when you move.

“What’s in the suitcase?”

“Grass.”

“You’re under arrest.”

But if you go with fake grass, you have to know what you’re doing. According to experts, you can’t just slap a patch of fake grass onto your property like we did. For example, one thing you’re supposed to do is compact the dirt underneath and put down a layer of crushed rocks to make it more stable. We’d already blown our budget on this guy’s lawn with the fake grass alone, plus the cloth my wife bought to put underneath it to prevent weed growth, plus the staples we had to buy because you don’t want your lawn to catch a moderate wind and blow around the neighborhood. You want there to be staples sticking out when it does that.

The experts also stress that you should put the pieces down with the grass going in the same direction, which you’d think would be straight up, but it’s not, for some reason. They go at a slant, because you bought this in a roll.

We are weighing it down a little. We’re getting some potted plants, and we have an animal trap, because we occasionally have groundhogs coming up through our lawn, trying to eat our garden. We plant real vegetables, though I’m now thinking that we should go with fake ones. So what happens if the groundhogs try to pop out of the ground where there’s fake grass? Will they come up straight through the carpet, or will the grass suddenly pop up one day and we’ll have a lump walking around until we whack it with a mallet?

Also, from what I hear, if you have fake grass, you occasionally have to clean off spills such as coffee, ink, wine, lipstick, and blood. Um, if you have blood on your lawn, you might have bigger problems than cleaning your grass. You might want to call Hatzalah first.

Not to mention gum. If there’s gum on your lawn, you might want to leave your lawn in the freezer for a few hours. Or set yourself a reminder to clean it in the winter.

That said, most people advise that you rinse your grass once a week. Which means you’re not saving a ton of water, plus you’re probably using dish soap. You’re also supposed to rake the carpet periodically, or use some kind of carpet sweeper. So you no longer have to be one of those people who are crazy for watering their lawn after storms, but you do occasionally have to go out and vacuum the lawn.

Plus buying the grass isn’t that easy. Firstly, you’d think the grass would be in the garden section, but it’s not. It’s in the carpet section, on huge rolls. You give them your dimensions, and they cut it for you, on this huge carpet guillotine that the customers are not allowed to use, and you have to figure out how to get it on your shopping cart and to the checkout lane.

There were two reels of grass available, so we picked the cheaper one. The more expensive one had taller grass, which I guess is supposed to hide the staples better so no one asks you why your lawn is stapled in.

“What? I didn’t hear you. I had the vacuum running.”

Maybe you’re supposed to put in the shorter lawn, and then once in a while, you sneak out in the middle of the night and put in the taller one, and everyone’s like, “It must be real! Look how much it grew overnight!” And then you get a ticket.

So we found a guy who worked there, and we gave him our measurements. The fence covers the back half of our neighbor’s property, so we needed a 48-foot strip, and the roll was 12 feet, so we needed 4 strips. We told him that we needed one strip that was 20 inches wide and three strips that were 9 inches wide. And he could not wrap his mind around this.

He asked, “Do you mean feet? I don’t think I have enough.”

And we said, “No, we mean inches.”

He was clearly wondering who these weirdos were with a lawn that’s 48 feet long and 9 inches wide. He works in the carpet aisle. This has never come up? No one ever says, “Hey, I want a runner for my stairs that is 50 feet long and two feet wide”?

“Really? Which carpet do you want?”

“Fake grass.”

He did not believe we wanted strips that narrow, so he kept trying to give us strips that were a couple of inches wider than we asked for. He thought he was doing us a favor, giving us something we’d have to immediately trim off that he was also charging us for. We can’t make our property bigger. At best, we can tuck the grass under the fence so our neighbor sucks it into his mower by accident.

Then finally he said, “I might not have enough. I shouldn’t have given you those extra few inches before.”

You think?

So now we have a beautiful patch of fake grass that is all in the same direction, though some of it’s too narrow for the space, and it looks exactly like real grass, except not our real grass, which tends to grow in patches, like a bachur. Also, if you squint, you can see the staples. But other than that, you can’t tell the difference unless you actually feel it.

It’s like a hot stove.

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of six books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to MSchmutter@gmail.com

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