Saving on upkeep costs: Pietermaritzburg on verge on synthetic grass breakthrough, says mayor

2010-04-01 00:00

THE city’s grass verges and embankments are set to be uprooted and replaced with synthetic grass.

Following a recent tour of Pietermaritzburg, Msunduzi Mayor Mike Tarr said he is more convinced than ever that synthetic grass will be the best option to deal with the city’s overgrown verges.

Tarr said the synthetic grass will enable the city to save a great deal of money in mowing costs, and ratepayers will collectively save an initial estimate of R81 million a year in rates.

“The maintenance of these grassy areas costs the city a large sum of money each year,” said Tarr. “Replacing the grass with synthetic grass will allow the city to redirect its funds to areas of greater need.”

The head of the city’s parks committee, Neville Buhlaza, lauded Tarr for his “brave and environmentally wise” decision.

“This means a great deal more than saving money on the upkeep of these verges,” Buhlaza said. “The new synthetic grass areas will require no water and go a long way in the fight to conserve that resource.”

The committee will oversee the changeover from natural to synthetic grass, which is set to begin early next month.

The project will begin at Carbineer Gardens alongside the city hall. “The grass will be removed, the ground will then be prepared and the synthetic lawn placed,” Buhlaza said.

Belgotex’s Helen Dwyer confirmed that the company has been awarded the contract for Duraturf, which is manufactured in Pietermaritzburg by Belgotex Floorcoverings.

“The reason for this decision is that the synthetic grass requires no watering, pesticides or fertilisers, making it environmentally friendly. It is hassle-free as there is no maintenance,” she said.

Fears that the artificial grass could be lifted and stolen have been put to rest. “Duraturf is generally fastened with non-removable nails as well as a glue application,” said Dwyer.

According to Buhlaza, passersby will hardly notice the difference. “The new artificial surface will look like grass, but unlike real grass, will remain lush and green all year round.”

Buhlaza added that it will always look neat and tidy — unlike “the messy grassed areas”.

While city leaders have expressed excitement, some groups have opposed the plan.

Janine Verdigris, head of the Pietermaritzburg Flora and Fauna Association, said the proposed synthetic grass will turn the city into “one large plastic carpet”.

“Nature was created to be enjoyed, not shovelled away and replaced with plastic,” she said.

Verdigris said the association is drafting a petition against the “proposed abomination”, which will be handed to councillor Loof Lirpa by noon today.

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