Before you freak out, this is just a debate. We are in the middle of landscaping (and will be for months) and recently 4, FOUR, different people who I respect have said, “You should think about turf. It’s awesome and makes it so you can use your lawn year-round”. Plus it’s incredible these days. The first time we reacted with an “Uh, no. It’s a farm in Oregon”. But then the same conversation kept coming up!
Is Turf Happening In the Pacific Northwest?
So here is what is happening – people are secretly putting turf in their backyards – NOT their front yards. The winter is wet, for sure. And everything is so green and lush and beautiful, but it means that playing on the lawn is very muddy and soggy. Additionally, it’s fragile and easy to get messed up with dogs running around that can create these huge bald spots that turn into a mud pit. So oddly despite it being so green and easy to grow up here, your lawn can be seen as unusable during many months of the year. Then the summers are so dry that you have to water A LOT if you want it to stay green (like many of you said, most people let their lawns go dormant and brown for the last couple months of summer and it comes back super green in November).
From our perspective, turf is something you can install in California (and we did). It’s a huge drought down there and honestly, if you have a contained backyard (especially one that isn’t supposed to look rustic) turf is a really really good option.
Our Experience With Turf
We secretly LOVED having turf at the mountain house. LOVED. Zero mud. Zero maintenance. Great in the snow and in the summer. The dogs can just run and run with nary a bit of dirt on them. As a reminder in Arrowhead we weren’t allowed to put in real grass due to the drought and even if we had, the maintenance is a lot (freezing/dormant in winter, needs a ton of water in summer). Never soggy. Always useful. And our property there had a ton of shade so it only got hot in a few spots. The whole install cost $16k which is a ton, but it’s one and done and we never have to think about it.
Does it look real? Hmm. Not up close but it looks good. It’s just so unbelievably useable and practical. So after the FOURTH person told us to do it (again these are people who we think have a great sense of style and really get our aesthetic) we were questioning our decision. Why is everyone telling us to put turf in the Pacific Northwest!!!???? Here are our thoughts:
- This is a farm property. And while we have to design it because the construction basically ripped up the original plantings, we want it to look rustic and natural.
- We do not want this property to look like an “estate” or have a manicured backyard look, (nothing against that at all but not the vibe we want here). So, we are opting even away from steel edging and letting the grass and any shrubs kinda just grow into the woods (against the persistent advice of our landscape designer, haha). Honestly, we just want it to look like how it might have naturally grown 50 years ago (with of course the added pickle ball court and another special modern amenity I haven’t even told you about).
- But boy is a soggy lawn a bummer with dogs. And our dogs (because we have two) love to chase each other around fast and get so muddy. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s annoying for sure. Right now we can’t let them out because of the dirt and have to instead walk them three times a day (which for the most part I love and will always do but they want to be outside all day which I get. However, if we let them out it’s a whole ordeal that we often don’t feel like dealing with. So yes, having a designated turf area that was big enough for them to run around would be awesome.
- But it’s OREGON. This is the land of lush greenery where every plant thrives! It feels so odd to put in something artificial when the real thing grows so well here. And I used to feel bad about the water usage for irrigation (and still want to be mindful of it) but it rains so much here that it’s off 9 months of the year (which made the irrigation install bill extremely hard to swallow, honestly). We want that lush natural beauty of real greenery.
- If we had a small area that made sense or that was more hidden we’d probably do it there. But the way the property is has the house in the middle and the rest of the yard really flows around it so it would be an obvious change.
So the question is, for those of you who live in a non-drought rainy climate – is this a thing? Do you have it? Does anyone have examples of it looking more “real”? It’s almost like you hear about these mythical backyards with turf that look “real” but no one has photos of them. It does make more sense to me that people are doing it in their backyards but not in front. And again, I think if it were a more contained yard (like Arrowhead) that is not meant to be rustic or overly natural we would just do it. It’s like gas fireplaces with fake logs – for the most part, it’s worth it not looking “real” because you can use it so much more often, but for this property, it just doesn’t feel right. Brian is a hard no, I’m more open to it I think because generally I’m very easily convinced of things that are more practical and make our lives easier…