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The grass is greener 

Take a close look at this putting green and the smiling man enjoying it in his own front yard. If it sounds like a novel, or an incredibly laborious luxury that would involve endless manicuring and expensive chemical treatments, not to mention the endless scorn of your water conservationist neighbors, think again.

AstroTurf for the masses has arrived, and it looks and feels exactly like ... well, almost exactly like real grass. According to Ref Finsterwald, the proud owner of this maintenance-free TurfTech putting green in front of his West Side home, the new generation of fake grass just might be a lawn jockey's dream come true.

"With our water restrictions I just had no choice," said Finsterwald, who owns Finsterwald Irrigation and Landscape, a local company that just recently began installing the TurfTech lawns here in town. Not only does Finsterwald now have a perma-green putting surface where he once had some blighted patches of grass and dirt, he never has to water it or mow it or pull any weeds. "It's about as xeriscape as you can get," said Finsterwald, chuckling contentedly to himself about the product that allows water to drain into the ground, but suppresses almost all plant growth.

Though the turf samples definitely don't look like real sod, once the material is laid down and "in-filled" with recycled shredded tires and sand, the grass looks real and the ground is bouncy and soft. It feels ... better than grass!

We sit out here and do this all night long," said Finsterwald, chuckling again as he sank a putt. "The only thing you've got to worry about is the neighbors turning you into the water cops 'cause your lawn is green and theirs looks like crap."

--Noel Black

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