Soy-Backed Grass Solving Problems Coast to Coast

The Denver Airport boasts a large lounging area for travelers to rest on soy-backed artificial grass. Photo credit: SYNLawn

From the water-conscious West, to the re-imagining of city parks with innovative and sustainable landscapes, to pesky insects, soy-backed artificial grass is part of the solution.

Because SYNLawn synthetic grass has a biobased backing, it can help buyers increase purchases of biobased products and at the same time reduce water consumption.

No more mowing, weeding, spraying, fertilizing, or watering

Nebraska farmer Greg Anderson and his dog, Buddy, both enjoy the soy-backed grass in December 2021. Anderson’s lawn previously turned brown by summer.

Decades of successfully growing acres of soybeans, alfalfa, hay, and corn bear witness to Nebraska farmer Greg Anderson’s proficiency with plants. Until 2021, it was the bluegrass in his south-facing downward-sloping front yard that gave his green thumb a tough time.

“Typically, it would look good in the spring and then in the summer it took a beating with the sun,” says the Nebraska Soybean Board Director from Newman Grove. “The bluegrass tended to suffer when it turned dry. It was either install underground sprinklers and re-seed or even purchase new sod or do something else.”

That something else was to install SYNLawn’s soy-backed grass in 2021. “I have seen SYNLawn in other parts of the country, even in Central Park in New York City. The variety of applications and landscape options is endless. It looks great wherever it is placed.”

“I like the fact that SYNLawn’s EnviroLoc backing system replaces up to 60% of petroleum-based polyol with a plant-based polyol made from soybeans. As a soybean farmer, that is important to me to be able to use a renewable, sustainable product,” says Anderson who is past chair of the United Soybean Board where he helped oversee soybean checkoff investments in new uses for soy as well as its sustainability.

Anderson praised the Omaha-based SYNLawn distributor, Practice Sports, which worked with him through the entire process, including discussions of how the soy-backed grass would perform at the same time it reduces the environmental impact of maintaining the yard. “No more mowing, weeding, spraying, fertilizing, or watering,” says Anderson. “It’s virtually maintenance free. Rain and snow drain and melt off just like a normal lawn would.”

“The look and feel of the grass is so natural,” adds Anderson who chose SYNBlue 949 from the many options.  “People have commented that they can’t believe it isn’t real grass. With SYNLawn now installed, I have a perfect lawn to enjoy from here on out!

It’s great to live in Nebraska and have green grass year ‘round!” says Anderson.


Rollin’ Soy-backed Grass Down the Road Median

Multiple Canadian city planners are prescribing that all medians less than 10-feet wide use artificial grass. Their main concern is the safety of crews working on small medians in high-traffic areas. An added benefit is eliminating mowing avoids street closures and pollution from mowing equipment. Photo credit: SYNLawn Vancouver Island

Three important reasons contribute to why British Columbia municipalities are choosing SYNLawn’s soy-backed grass for road medians. The installations offer safety for work crews, help meet permeability requirements for watersheds, and avoid repeated losses of grass where snowplowing leaves salt and sand.

In 2014, SYNLawn Canada made its first installation on a median. It remains strong and green today while offering the following benefits.

  1. Multiple Canadian city planners are prescribing that all medians less than 10-feet wide use artificial grass. Their main concern is the safety of crews working on small medians in high-traffic areas. An added benefit is eliminating mowing avoids street closures and pollution from mowing equipment.
  2. City planners also like that the drainage systems under the SYNLawn grass allow them to meet requirements for permeability that are key to managing the volume of urban runoff water and more.
  3. Snowplowing often leaves sand, saline, and a variety of other debris on medians, causing grass to die and the location often turns into a weed garden. The many options of natural colors in SYNLawn’s soy-backed grass offers an aesthetically pleasing choice.

The National Building Museum’s 2019 Summer Block Party Features SYNLawn

July through September of 2019, architects and others explored the latest sustainable innovation on display at The National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. The 2019 Summer Block Party installation titled Lawn boasted an expansive installation of SYNLawn’s SYNAugustine 547 soy-biobased landscape grass, known for its environmental stewardship. The American-made, high-quality turf looks and feels like the real thing, which helped evoke an iconic summer day on a rolling hillside at Lawn, complete with hammocks, soundscapes, and lawn activities.

Recognized as a USDA Certified Biobased Product in the United States Department of Agriculture’s BioPreferred Program, SYNAugustine 547 has a certified biobased content of 19 percent. Its durable EnviroLoc backing replaces up to 60 percent of petroleum-based polymers with biobased materials, including rapidly renewable U.S. soybean oil. Additionally, the grass is 100 percent recyclable, made in America, and conserves water.

SYNLawn artificial grass is made with EnviroLoc Plus™ Backing System,  an exclusive soy-based backing with an enhanced multi-layer component system that “locks” in durable turf fibers, extending the products life cycle. EnviroLoc Plus™ uses soy-based polyol technology developed with support from the soybean checkoff.  Based on UL third-party verification, soybean oil displaces 60 percent of the petroleum-based polyurethane in EnviroLoc Plus™ .

Cutting Water, Pollution AND Maintenance Costs at the World’s Largest Children’s Museum

Spring 2018 features the grand opening of the 7.5 acre Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. The world’s largest children’s museum’s new immersive learning experience allows children and their families to learn as they participate in sports activities inspired by some of history’s greatest athletes.

Sustainability supports all this activity while it saves water and pollution. About 18 tons of soy-backed, technologically advanced artificial turf made by SYNLawn anchors more than 60,000 square feet of the miniaturized world-famous golf greens as well as football, baseball and soccer mini fields. SYNLawn’s EnviroLoc™ backing replaces up to 60 percent of petroleum-based polymers with biobased materials, including soybean oil.  The grass is 100 % recyclable, made in America and conserves water. 

Water saved: Approximately 840,000 gallons (equaling 46 average-sized swimming pools) of water will be saved each year by using biobased SYNLawn vs natural grass.

Pollution averted: the equivalency of 168 hours of car exhaust won’t get released into the atmosphere since environmentally-friendly SYNLawn requires no mowing.

Tons of Turf: The eight types of SYNLawn turf covering the 18 miniaturized world-famous replica golf holes, nine introductory golf holes and nine toddler holes weight 11.8 tons (23K+ pounds) and SYNLawn turf from the combined football, soccer and baseball mini-fields weigh 6.3 tons (12K+ pounds)

Launch Viewers at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Stand on Soy-biobased Sustainability

Hundreds of spectators at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida are looking up to the skies as they gather to marvel at rocket launches. Now their earth-bound feet are resting on a sustainable solution—artificial grass made with oil from soybeans grown in U.S. soil–that stands up to the heavy foot traffic demands of the rocket-watching crowds.  Soy-backed grass supports the heavy foot traffic of rocket-watching crowds at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

The seeds for this decision to cover the spectator area, a spot larger than four basketball courts, with soy-biobased turf are rooted in Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s 2015 Earth Day. The United Soybean Board (USB) and biobased manufacturer SYNLawn joined the 2015 educational program to participate in discussions about how to enhance the sustainability of the facilities. Staffs were interested in the science and sustainability of U.S. soybean oil as a rapidly renewable material to displace petroleum in SYNLawn’s products.

“Innovation and agriculture grew together at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex with their installation of SYNLawn’s soy-backed grass,” said USB Director John Dodson, a Tennessee soybean grower who participated in the original Earth Day discussions. “The choice makes sense for both visitors and the environment. Approximately 570,000 U.S. farmers are growing soybeans each year, and our crop offers an abundant supply of food and feed as well as a rapidly renewable ingredient for products like SYNLawn’s grass.”

“At SYNLawn, we are so proud to be such a large consumer of soybean oil created from U.S. soybean farmers’ harvests,” said George Neagle, executive vice president, SYNLawn. “This project brings awareness to these amazing technological advancements that help provide a natural looking, environmentally sustainable, durable artificial grass. At the same time, we are able to support the U.S. soybean farming industry, and the hardworking men and women who incorporate these renewable materials into the products at our Dalton, Georgia, manufacturing facility.”

Thanks to the biobased content, SYNLawn products, SYNAugustine 547 and SYNRenew are recognized as USDA Certified Biobased Products in the Department of Agriculture’s BioPreferred Program. 

SYNLawn’s EnviroLoc™ backing replaces up to 60 percent of petroleum-based polymers with biobased materials, including soybean oil.  The grass is 100% recyclable, made in America and conserves water.

Soy-Backed Grass Centerpiece of Outdoor Fun

Night and day, National Harbor’s thousands of guests benefit from the durability as well as natural look and feel of the soy-backed SYNLawn grass. Photo credit: National Harbor Peterson Companies

Zumba classes, concerts, and sporting event viewings are all enjoyed on soy-backed SYNLawn® artificial grass at National Harbor, a premier Washington D.C. area waterfront destination.

“We have over 12 million visitors annually and we needed something that could handle that traffic. The SYNLawn looked and felt the best. It was the most like natural grass and it has enhanced our guests’ experience.” said Kent Digby, Senior Vice President of National Harbor Operations, which is located minutes from the nation’s capital on the Potomac River in Maryland.

The venue’s centerpiece is a beautiful plaza covered with artificial grass, making it low-maintenance and comfortable.  National Harbor installed the artificial grass in 2014.

Digby adds that being able to spray paint the grass with different sports themes is an added bonus. For example, National Harbor painted a soccer field on the artificial grass during Women’s World Cup and added a tennis court design during a summer tennis match viewing.

SYNLawn offers a 15-year manufacturer warranty and is 100 percent recyclable.

National Harbor paints their soy-backed SYNLawn for special events where guests gather to view sports and more on the big screen near the SYNLawn. Photo credit: National Harbor │Peterson Companies

Each year, about 600,000 U.S family farmers grow soybeans on land that covers the rough equivalent of 60 million football fields. Often called the “miracle bean,” a peer-reviewed life cycle analysis supports that U.S. soybeans can collectively remove from the atmosphere the carbon equivalent of taking 22 million cars off the road in just one year. This video tells the story

Urban Park Transformed

Why are park architects from Paris to Philadelphia flocking to New York City’s Washington Square Park? NYC Parks’ Landscape Architect George Vellonakis has responded to numerous inquiries from other park planners who want to know more about how he used soy-backed SYNLawn synthetic grass in the renovation of Washington Square Park.

The most recent phase of the three-phase Washington Square Park renovation included re-imagining the old asphalt mounds that were installed in the 1970s. Vellonakis, who was tasked with renovating the mounds, said the asphalt was in disrepair and had become a liability and the play structures had long been removed.

Vellonakis designed mounded hills graded and slightly submerged into the landscape to allow for a continuous open meadow.  The area also includes a cable play structure respectfully placed within this restored historic landscape that is now very popular with the children. After deciding that synthetic grass was the way to go because of its low maintenance and aesthetic appeal, he then turned his attention to choosing the right product.

“SYNLawn is the best product out there for use in tandem with an existing green feature — like a lawn – and when trying to coexist with an historic park,” Vellonakis said.  “The color was the most compatible with the surrounding natural lawn and the product doesn’t have a sheen like some others.”

In addition, the renovation included a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified park house and comfort station. “The fact that the backing on the artificial grass is made using soy definitely played a role, as did removing a hardscape,” he said.

An unexpected benefit of the redesign is the increased family bonding it encourages. “It’s very magical,” says Vellonakis when describing how the park’s famed “Hills” encourage playful interaction between children and their parents or nannies.  “Instead of sitting on park benches observing their children play, adults are out there too – rolling around with their kids.”

Vellonakis says “kids flock to the Hills and really use their imaginations” when tackling the artificial grass-clad mounds.  The unique design allows more imaginative play than would occur on a stationary play structure.  He estimates that on a nice day, between 300 and 400 children visit the Hills.

Vellonakis expects to see additional uses of SYNLawn in New York City as leaders focus on ways to incorporate more green space, especially in low-income communities.  Two parks in Brooklyn – Sunset and Betsy Head – are in the process of installing SYNLawn.  That renovation work is expected to be completed in the summer of 2015.

About Washington Square Park–Located on land steeped in history, Washington Square Park was established in 1827 and named for this country’s first President.  The Park encompasses slightly more than ten acres in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village neighborhood.  The iconic Washington Arch is one of the park’s most recognized features.


New York City’s first urban vineyard, Rooftop Reds, used SYNLawn’s soy-backed artificial grass for sustainability and to create a welcoming environment for guests. Photo credit: SYNLawn

Water Conservation Drives Demand for Artificial Turf

The water-conscious West is quickly realizing the benefits of artificial grass as well. Water conservation has lawmakers, homeowners and businesses looking for alternatives for their lawns, parks, cemeteries and golf courses.

In Las Vegas, Nevada, the average homeowner uses 73 gallons of water per square foot of lawn grass annually – the equivalent of 10 feet of rainfall, according to Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) Conservation Manager Doug Bennett.  That’s why the region has been aggressive about water-saving solutions since 1999. The Water Smart Landscapes program, which provides cash incentives to homeowners who replace ornamental lawns with more efficient landscapes, has converted nearly 4,000 acres — 173 million square feet — of lawn space. That’s enough to cover nearly 3,000 football fields, according to SNWA.

Bennett reports than one in four residential landscape conversions in southern Nevada use artificial grass in some capacity. He points out that even the famed Las Vegas strip has acres of synthetic grass installed along the median and around the famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign.

Bennett stresses the importance of integrating synthetic grass with living plants.  “It looks better and creates a more appealing effect when turf is blended with living plants,” Bennett said.

Nevada’s program requires that water efficient landscapes include a minimum amount of living plants.  For example, a typical lawn may consist of an area with artificial grass, a mulch or stone section, interspersed with drought resistant shrubs and trees.

“I was skeptical about synthetic grass at first because of the harsh UV environment here,” Bennett said.  “I have been pleasantly surprised that artificial grass is withstanding the test of time and most has held up very well for more than ten years.”

Bennett sees an added benefit when soy-backed synthetic grass is used.  “Not only does the product reduce petroleum use, but because it uses soy it’s a way that agriculture can help cities deal with water shortages.”

SYNLawn Solves Another Pesky Problem

Lawns in many states are becoming lunch for a hungry pest.  According to Michigan State University’s Extension Service, the invasive European Chafer Beetle has been found in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Ohio, Michigan, Delaware and southern Ontario. The beetle was unknowingly brought over in a crate of flowers from Europe and has spread rapidly, tearing up gardens and lawns.  These pests feed on the roots of all types of plants leaving massive destruction in their wake. Yet again, artificial grass can be a cost-effective, long-term solution to this pesky problem.

SYNLawn artificial grass is available at over 800 Lowes stores in the U.S. and Canada.  For more information visit:

This case study is provided for information only. The United Soybean Board does not endorse, promote or make any representations regarding any specific suppliers mentioned herein.