3 May, 2015 @ 19:00
2 mins read

The green, green astroturf of Los Barrios

green green astroturf
Belinda pitches for mini golf in Los Barrios

WILL they be equipping the municipal gardeners of Los Barrios with Dysons and squeegee mops this summer, I wonder?

If not, the chaps in Parks and Gardens are going to have to ‘look to their laurels’ for work quite literally, as all our roundabouts and verges are sprouting plastic grass.

The Mayor has been busy rolling out the green carpet (that’s just what it looks like) to reduce maintenance costs and curry favour in his home turf ahead of the May elections. But, sod’s law he probably won’t get the green vote…

I’m not against faux per se (I’ve got one or two fake fittings myself and don’t you dare ask where), provided it looks like the genuine article. But maybe this is a bit of a faux pas. It screams Astroturf, so I don’t think we need worry about dog fouling. No self-respecting street mutt will go near it.

A lurid green with a synthetic sheen and the feel of a five o’clock shadow, it runs all the way along the central reservation into town, like an endless mini-golf course. Come to think of it, that could work… You could putt your ball into one of the holes filled with little white stones, where the trees poke out, as per my photo.

‘Natural stones’, as the environment bods are at pains to point out, perhaps because fake doesn’t quite gel with the town’s tourism drive to promote La Naturaleza. Los Barrios has just produced a very professional-looking video championing mountain biking in our neighbouring Parque Natural Los Alcornocales, the world’s largest cork forest. (Check out Sensaciones Los Barrios on Youtube, you’ll be impressed.) Then they go all plastic fantastic with their urban verges. Don’t these entities ever talk to each other?

Betty Molesworth Allen, the famous New Zealand botanist lately of Los Barrios, is probably turning in her memorial garden, which faces one of the new plastic lawns. That’s if she can find room to roll over in her weed-tangled plot – an advertisement for Astroturf if ever there was one!

Synthetic grass gets super-hot in summer and messes up the food chain – where are slugs and worms going to feed and breed from now on? But having looked into the subject of césped artificial, I may have to relent as it seems the pluses outweigh the minuses, as it saves on labour, pesticides and water big-time.

Did you know the average grass playing field uses around 50,000 gallons of water per week during the growing season? During the hot dry summers, the thin brown line of real grass along our dual carriageways looked disturbingly Brazilian (and not in a rainforest way).

Los Barrios might not – yet – have won any best-kept village contests, as pretty pueblos are two a centimo down our neck of the Los Alcornocales woods. But one thing’s certain. We’ll all be laughing come high July, when the grass will look a lot greener on our side of the street!


Belinda Beckett (Columnist)

Belinda Beckett is a qualified journalist and freelance writer based in the Campo de Gibraltar, specialising in travel & lifestyle features and humour columns.

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