Installing Turf in Desert Environments

It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that synthetic grass is becoming as familiar in desert areas as cactus. Perhaps more than most regions, the sunny locals have embraced artificial turf for many reasons. Water conservation, for instance. Consistent and superior appearance in all weather, too. The pet- and pet owner-friendly aspects of turf is another reason. See also: None of the maintenance associated a grass lawn is required.

The latest developments underline the advantages of synthetic grass in the desert.

Going off the grid: The University of Arizona football program, which has been playing on natural-grass home fields in Tucson since 1999, announced it will switch to artificial turf for the 2013 season.

Factors cited in the decision include enhanced performance (turf is considered a “faster” surface) and playability (sod fields degrade under constant usage), and cost effectiveness (maintenance expenses for synthetic grass fields are substantially less).

An additional reason, according to a department spokesman: “Fake grass just looks better in the stadium.”

Look, ma! No scorpions: Follow the food chain to grasp this one.

Watered lawns – and they do need lots of irrigating in the desert – attract mosquitoes. Mosquitoes love standing water.

Crickets love to eat mosquitoes. Watered lawns attract mosquitoes, which attract crickets. And crickets are delicacy for scorpions.

So … a synthetic grass lawn means fewer scorpions as a household pest. Or: Since turf needs no water, and plastic grass isn’t a food.source, maybe zero scorpions.

Bad news/good news/bad news for water bills: While the Metropolitan Water District serving most of Southern California has passed across-the-board rate increases to its customers for 2012 and 2013, the Southern Nevada Water Authority announced it will hold the line on pricing, citing adequate supplies. However, low water prices in the desert appear to be a mirage.

At a forum of National Federation of Municipal Analysts held in Las Vegas, famous for casinos with waterfalls in 110-degree heat, the unanimous opinion was that rates will only go up, and up. Analysts predict that the volatility of water supplies in Nevada, Arizona and the greater Southwest will lead to steady price increases of 20% or more in the next five years.

In addition, water providers are likely to renew and expand pipelines, and take on additional debt. The Southern Nevada Water Authority plans to issue a $360 million bond in July to upgrade old facilities and build new ones. A 2012 analysis on water scarcity by Standard and Poor’s concludes: “We believe utility managers will likely ask more of their customers, especially in the form of rate adjustments.”