Faux Better or Worse

August 27, 2009
To save water, some cities let residents replace grass lawns with artificial turf. Environmentalists call for xeriscaping. Aesthetes wince.

It's the largest irrigated crop in the United States, with more than 32 million acres in production, according to a 2005 study from the journal Environmental Management. But this crop isn't eaten by people or, usually, animals. It's the front lawn, and cities across America are trying to save water by encouraging homeowners — through rebates and tax benefits — to get rid of it...