Artificial grass growing in Ottawa

A growing number of homeowners in Ottawa are installing artificial grass lawns, and that's good news for business owners such as Larry Roy.
Artificial grass is gaining popularity among Ottawa's homeowners. ((Alison Crawford/CBC))

Elite athletes have been running on it for years and now it's showing up in yards across Ottawa. 

A growing number of Canadians are installing artificial grass lawns, and that's good news for business owners such as Larry Roy.

Roy, the Ottawa-area distributor for Synlawn synthetic grass, says business is up 14 times over last year.

"You don't need the lawnmower, you don't need to water, there's no herbicides or pesticides," he said, explaining the attraction for potential customers.

"I have a huge clientele base of golfers. We have municipalities where we've done medians, city parks, day-care centres." 

While some look for maintenance-free, natural-looking lawns, Roy said golfing fanatics desire their own personal backyard putting green. 

He also installed 6,000 square feet of turf at the Ottawa Humane Society. The organization's executive director, Bruce Roney, said the decision was made to install artificial grass because the dogs churned up the old lawn and made it really muddy.

"It looks great, it's not as fake-looking as I anticipated and it's pretty resilient. I've seen them trying to dig and they're not making any headway." 

Running his hands over a patch of thick synthetic fescue, Roy said the grass is made of 80 per cent recyclable material and soybean plants. 

New homes selling with synthetic lawns

On Sunday, Ottawa realtor Glenda Brindle held her first open house for a home with artificial grass. She said home buyers were receptive to the dark green lawn poking through a light dusting of snow. 

"Well at first they're shocked because it isn't as familiar as it probably will be, but once you explain to them there's no maintenance, they're loving it," she said. 

Shakeel Bhayani and Alisha Dedhar toured the home and had a bit of a turf war over the synthetic lawn. 

"Well at first I walked back and I asked, 'This isn't real is it?' And then he was like 'no, it's artificial grass.' I'm like, 'Oh my god it's so cool and I bent over and I touched it. It kind of makes the lawn look perfect," said Dedhar. 

But Bhayani says he can't imagine giving up his riding mower.

"It looks fake, that's the problem. It looks like fake grass. If you look across the street you can see real grass."

Roy said the downside to artificial grass is that it heats up in summer and is quite a bit more expensive than real grass. Even so, he added many appear to be willing to pay the price to have a maintenance-free lawn.