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The grass is always… more profitable

The grass is always… more profitable

An idea so obvious, it’s brilliant. In a land where water is scarce and expensive (and set to become scarcer and more expensive) why don’t we see more artificial grass?

July 12, 2010 3:17 by

Six months ago, Kipp moved from its ramshackle shanty hut in the desert into a new home: a newer, slightly less ramshackle wooden shed, in a new patch of desert. To spruce the place up a bit, we thought we’d create ourselves a little garden.

Having no horticultural skills at all, we meandered in the direction of the nearest hardware store to seek some plastic grass. Unfortunately for us, the rolls and rolls of fake turf were all empty. The normally abundant selection of grass lengths and different quality turfs was unavailable.

We thought nothing of it, and made do with a new deckchair and a picnic rug. Until we glimpsed a press release this week extolling the virtues of using fake grass for gardens here in the UAE. It was a minor revelation.

Traverse this bizarre land in which we live, and you will see gardens and grassy areas galore. And if you stand around to watch them, you’ll see everyday thousands upon thousands of sprinklers whirring into action, to keep that grass alive.

It won’t last. It can’t. As we report today in analysis, there is simply not enough water to go round. “It needs 2.5 million liters of water to irrigate a 200 square meter lawn over 40 months, the same amount of water that would fill an Olympic sized swimming pool,” says Markus Oberlin, General Manager of Farnek Avireal, a UAE-based company advising building owners on how to cut their carbon emissions and utility bills.

Now multiply that figure over, and over, and over, and you’ll get somewhere close to a fraction of the water wasted in the UAE to keep the likes of roundabouts and gardens nice and green.

The solution (and I think you can see where this is going): fake grass. It’s low maintenance, it looks good, it doesn’t require water, and it can save cash. As Oberlin observes, “The savings potential for local governments using artificial grass in pubic urban landscaped areas such as road verges, traffic islands and interchanges, must run in to hundreds of millions of Dirhams.”

OK so maybe a fake lawn doesn’t appeal to you now, but mark Kipp’s words: if the Kipp paymasters ever increase our packet-of-crisps-plus-all-you-can-use-post-it-note salary, we’ll be investing the excess in a plastic grass company. Because one day, sooner or later, the UAE – and many places in the world, come to that – is going to have to stop people spraying away tones of water every single day.

And when they do it’ll be fake grass boom time, baby.

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