Turf War: Silver Lake urban farmers say “No” to artificial grass

Silver Lake —  Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen are all for conserving water. But this pair of city farmers who wrote a book on urban homesteading draw the line at using artificial turf at home to cut water consumption. That’s why they have challenged some City Council members who want  to make it easier and cheaper for homeowners to install artificial grass on parkways – that strip of land between the street and sidewalk – and take advantage of water conservation rebates.

Right now a property owner that seeks to install artificial turf on a parkway must apply for special permits and go through a review process that could cost up to $2,000, according to a City Council motion introduced by West Valley councilman Bob Blumenfield. That motion proposes the city create a standard and less costly procedure to cover parkways with artificial grass.

Meanwhile, a separate motion introduced by Councilman Tom LaBonge would direct the L.A. Department of Water & Power to look into the potential benefits of having homeowners install artificial grass. “The quality and appearance of synthetic turf has gained popularity, and especially with the drought, turf has become more accepted,” the motion said.

But Coyne and Knutzen disagree. In a recent post on their Root Simple blog, Knutzen said that the Blumenfield motion was not “ecologically responsible” and also took issue with a recent L.A. Times opinion piece on the subject. Said Knutzen:

Yes, we need to reduce irrigation, but we also need to create landscapes beneficial to all life: to insects, mammals, reptiles and human beings. And we need beauty. Gardens are both ecological and spiritual … Artificial turf has a place on athletic fields and put-put golf courses. It does not belong in residential landscapes, especially in the parkway.

Knutzen and Coyne said there are natural alternatives to plastic grass, and recommended visiting the Theodore Payne Nursery in Sunland and the websites of the  UC Davis Arboretum’s All Stars list and the Metropolitan Water District for ideas and resources.


  1. Oh Please! No artificial grass. There are plenty of drought resistant plants that make parkways look nice.

    • Exactly! To say nothing of the inevitable odor(s) and debris by pets and who knows what else. This is a very bad if not completely tacky solution. It almost reads like an April Fools joke!

    • Except that most of those plants you are thinkjng of are technically illeagal obstructions of the public right of way and a slap in the face to the elderly and disabled that won’t be able to get out of the car and navigate to the sidewalk.

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