DALLAS What a difference a drought makes.

Even upscale homeowners are now embracing the once unthinkable notion of fake grass.

My husband suggested it. I said, 'Absolutely not! I don't want a putting green,' recalled Leslie Adkins. I don't want plastic in my yard. Forget it!

That was before Adkins saw the latest in artificial turf. This is not your granddad's Bermuda.

Adkins has a showplace backyard in Arlington's Interlochen neighborhood. She says it used to be a perpetual mess, so she tried artificial turf.

It's so maintenance-free, Adkins said. Environmentally-friendly. It's saving water. It's really wonderful.

She was so happy with the turf installed last year that she bought more this year.

While this summer has hammered traditional landscaping, artificial turf installers suddenly find themselves very popular.

We're starting to get a lot more phone calls now, said landscape architect Richard Barnor of ForeverLawn.

He said the new turf is made of recycled materials that drain instantly and are perfect for pets.

Synthetic Grass Pros of Lewisville have added an extra crew to keep up with demand. They just finished their biggest residential job ever, covering the front and back lawns at an expensive home in the town of Parker.

Some home owners associations still don't allow it.

They still think it's the old AstroTurf, said installer Bill Dvorak.

Hardly. Top of the line realism can cost about $12 per foot installed, but maintenance is zero.

This pays for itself within the first three to four years, Barnor said. And our guarantee is good for eight years. And the grass will last 12 to 15 years.

Some experts say it can last up to 20 years.

Although it can be expensive, her faux lawn is saving Leslie Adkins money. Parts of her yard had to be re-sodded four times in the last nine years because of drainage and shade issues.

Now it's lush, bug-free, maintenance-free, and drains perfectly.

People don't realize it's turf, Adkins said. They come in and say, 'What do you fertilize with? It's so green.' And I say, 'I don't even water it.'

She says her neighbors are now considering the same option as they struggle to save their lawns in the face of tighter water restrictions.


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