Keeping an impeccable lawn is never easy and on the Riviera it's made even more difficult by lack of water in the summer and the fact that many part-time residents aren't here year-round to tend their turf.
Enter Royal Grass. If the words "artificial grass" conjure up visions of an unconvincing green carpet of shiny plastic strands then this Dutch invention will prove you wrong. When I saw it recently in a garden in Vence, I couldn't tell it from a perfectly cared for real thing.
Royal Grass is for those who want the look and feel of real grass without the ongoing expense and bother of intense maintenance. There are other advantages too. It can be installed in places where real grass can't - on some rock bases or balconies for example. Nor is there need for pesticides, fertilising or mowing.
You can't just go out and buy Royal Grass in rolls to install yourself. It's a complete "system" rather than merely a grass carpet. Like good quality real lawn, the terrain requires proper preparation and specialised installation by a trained expert for long life and stability. Along with that expertise comes an 8 year guarantee. The ground is prepared and, depending on the type of surface, different supportive layers are laid down before the grass is fitted. Then a special deep brown quartz sand filler is put on and raked between the blades to weigh it down and help complete the look and feel of real grass. Once properly installed, it is virtually indistinguishable from the natural alternative. And it's always green, even in the scorching summer dryness of the Mediterranean.
In principal, Royal Grass can be fitted everywhere where natural grass may be desired but isn't able to grow or is difficult to maintain. It has been installed in residential or office gardens, on roof and hotel terraces, children's nurseries, indoor offices, shops, verges, medians and roundabouts - in fact anywhere there are adequate drainage possibilities. Royal Grass can be fitted seamlessly to terraces, walls, and even rocks. Its fireproof qualities have made it suitable for laying alongside airport runways. Barbecue coals may scorch it a bit (patched repairs are perfectly possible) but it won't catch fire, even in the driest of summers. Joints are invisible and the aspect is as uncannily real as the photos here indicate.
Maintenance is minimal. Once the grass is installed normal upkeep is almost without cost. The specially coated quartz sand, especially when the grass is used intensively, may need an annual top up and that's about all there is to it. Royal Grass is manufactured on an anti-weed fabric and weeds can then only take root on natural debris, like leaves and seeds which should be blown or raked off from time to time. Weeds can never grow deep because they are stopped by the grass fabric. Royal Grass claims to be undamaging to the environment. Its manufacturers say that as it doesn't need water, pesticides, fertilizing or mowing, it's actually more environmentally friendly than real grass, and a lot more attractive than paving. One thing I have always liked about grass is its smell and Royal Grass even markets a spray that instils the odour of the real thing.
So what's it cost? Depending on the type of terrain, count on about 82 euros per square metre. That compares favourably with a properly installed natural lawn and the subsequent maintenance costs are very much less. For many Riviera residences, sprinkling accounts for half or more of the water bill so that's another annual expense to be saved by this artificial alternative.
The local accredited agent is Ralph Ras and he can demonstrate just how much Royal Grass looks and feels like real, fresh-cut grass. See his ad below and for more extensive information on Royal Grass visit www.royalgrass.com.
From Reporter 112 - Dec 2005