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Business profile: Synthetic grass gives garden guru new lease on lawn maintenance

Monday, March 8th, 2010 | 4:38 pm

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Rene Bourgault of Synlawn shows a selection of products from the innovative company specializing in synthetic alternatives to natural grass. (Photo Chris Stanford)

By Kathy Michaels

If you happen to know where garden guru Don Burnett resides, it’s likely you’ve taken a couple moments to check out some of the greenery he’s famous for.

Come this summer however, the emerald hue of his lawn won’t be a product of a green thumb — it will be due in large part to SYNLawn, a Kelowna company which specializes in synthetic products.

Turns out Burnett has given up on grass and is laying out artificial turf. By his estimates it’s less of a cheat than it is an environmentally friendly way forward.

“The lawn has never been big on my agenda, it’s just a lawn. I wouldn’t put artificial plants out,” he said, adding he spent most of last season ripping out the lawn he had so he could install this year’s low maintenance version.

“I think it’s the wave of the future. Less lawn is what people are trying to achieve— you water less, mow less, and put less pesticides and fertilizers in your yard — and with SYNlawn you can have the look you like.”

While Burnett is one of only a couple hundred SYNLawn customers in the Okanagan, it’s likely synthetics will become more of a common sight as time marches on and concerns over water reach a boiling point. Already an irrigation area in Vernon has announced they’re readying themselves for shortages in the months ahead, and the picture is only slightly less dire for Kelowna.

“I have seen it down south in Arizona and dry areas down there,” he said. “Lawns are the  biggest users of water. In one square foot area on your lawn, you use a bathtub worth of water to keep it wet over the summer.”

Trees  and shrubs can be chosen for drought tolerance, he noted, but turf is tougher.

That realization is what prompted Rene Bourgault to get into business.

He explained each square foot of SYNLawn has the potential to save 78 litres of water a year. It’s a significant savings, especially when one considers that over 60 per cent of water used by the average household is used for yard irrigation and less than three per cent of municipally-treated water is actually used for drinking. The rest goes down the drain, down the toilet, or on our gardens.

“I really do see value in this material, especially in a climate like we have here, when we are on the verge of a water crisis,” said Bourgault, adding they’ve been in business for five years and in that time concerns over water have grown.

“The  trend is leading towards more and more people jumping on board with something like this.”

Their motivation isn’t completely benevolent either. SYNLawn’s grasses can last about 15 years and the product looks just as good as a regular yard. So, if you have a image of the ’80s style AstroTurf that turned into an unpleasant mess shortly after being laid, that’s not the case.

It’s also made from less environmentally hazardous components than its plastic counterpart from days past.

“It’s made from soy based components and as such it’s considered a green material,” he said. “And it can contribute LEED points to building project.”

Bourgault stressed that there is something for everything. The products he carries come in a number of looks and have a variety of uses  — from commercial to residential — and above all else they are cost efficient.

For more information go to their website or head right out to SYNLawn’s showroom at 140-948 McCurdy Road.

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4 Responses to “Business profile: Synthetic grass gives garden guru new lease on lawn maintenance”

  1. Poppular says:
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    I’m all for saving $$ and water, but I will NEVER have a astro-turf lawn!

  2. Virginia Laschenko says:
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    My husband and myself are full time R.V.ers we’ve had SYNlawn for 3 years each time we stop it is used as a patio mat outside . It feels great in the Arizona desert where there is a shortage of water and green grass. Still looks like new ,where as friends that have R.V. mats made of other products seem to have to replace them yearly and they don’t get to have a piece of grass outside there door .Also there is NO comparison to the old artifcal truf which gets very heavy when wet .
    Virginia & Tola

  3. Derek says:
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    That sounds great and all but there are reasons for having real turf other than just asthetics. Real turf helps to aviod erosion, it also helps reduce pollutants in the air and filters out contanimnents in rain water and reduces heat by a number of degrees in the hot summer months just to name a few examples

  4. Matthew says:
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    Overall, it cannot be denied that artificial grass does provide great cost savings and that it is beneficial for the environment. More and more studies are surfacing which recognize the environmental benefits of natural grass being outweighed by its environmental detriments. The water savings and minimal maintenance required for artificial grass make it a better choice for consumers interested in a lush grass aesthetic for their lawn. For more information about the benefits of artificial grass, check out this link:

    Please continue discussion on the forum: link

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