While artificial turf requires less water than a natural turf lawn, there are healthier and more ecologically sound alternatives. In addition to saving water, low water use plants and permeable landscape material meet additional sustainability goals that artificial turf and concrete do not:
1) Artificial turf and concrete are not a living landscape and do not increase biodiversity of plant, animal, and insect populations.
2) Artificial turf has potential environmental concerns. It is synthetic material that will have to be replaced in 10-20 years due to wear and tear, so it will eventually end up in a landfill.
3) Artificial turf is not water free. It needs to be cleaned with water and potentially with chemicals. This raises the concern of chemical pollutants from the cleaning materials, and potentially from the artificial turf itself, polluting surface water and groundwater in the runoff.
4) Artificial turf and concrete can get significantly hotter than surrounding air temperatures and contribute to the heat island effect by increasing air temperatures in urban settings.