Southern California didn’t enjoy the El Nino bump in rain and snow that fell in the northern part of the state. The nearly 5-year-old drought isn’t likely to end in 2016, and it has already doubled the demand for artificial turf in greater Los Angeles, according to Anaheim-based Synthetic Grass Warehouse, the nation’s largest distributor of the product.
In citing its annual growth in the L.A. market, privately held Synthetic Grass Warehouse, or SGW, points to continuing water restrictions as a key driver of demand.
Just as important, the company says, the visibility of artificial turf products in big-box stores has boosted consumer demand.
SGW, whose clients are mostly companies that install artificial turf, pointed to one in particular in a news release: Grizzly Turf. The company serves all of L.A. and Orange counties and says it expects to continue expanding its service area. Like SGW, Grizzly Turf is headquartered in Anaheim.
SGW’s news release, despite celebrating huge demand growth, was surprisingly candid about the headwinds the product has faced in terms of public perception. “The idea of having a fake lawn hasn’t always been this widely accepted,” it says, “but the record-breaking drought has raised some serious questions regarding the sustainability of natural lawns.
The natural turf industry has always countered this by pointing to the longtime – and widespread – use of cool-season grasses in California. Warm-season grasses will thrive there, they say, and with far less water than typically has been used for lawns in years past.
SGW says drought in the desert Southwest has driven demand throughout the region, although California has always been the company’s No. 1 market. Co-owner Victor Lanfranco told TLC a few months ago SGW has achieved revenue increases of 15-20 percent a year for the past decade.
Grizzly Turf, meanwhile, has grown 164 percent in the past year, the SGW release said, quoting its owner, David Ostrea: “Folks are finally realizing that they can still have a green lawn that’s safe for their families and pets. Our grass may not be real, but it certainly looks and feels like it’s real. There’s no reason to have a real grass lawn anymore.”
Both SGW and Grizzly Turf say increasing acceptance of the product by consumers, who are finding it at Home Depot and other retailers, in addition to continuing growth in commercial, HOA and local government installations, accounts for their respective boom years.
Naturally enough, both companies also expect the synthetic turf business to remain strong as long as water restrictions make conservation the law.