Houston Astrodome

Behold, the Houston Astrodome, replete with natural grass in 1965.

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­In 1965, the Houston Astrodome opened as a state-of -the-art temple of sport. The huge dome atop the facility was made of gl­ass plating to let in natural light, but remained closed to protect fans and players against the Texas sum­mer heat. However, a problem quickly became evident: The glass would beam sunlight directly into the corneas of fielders trying to track fly balls. Sunglasses provided little to no defense.

The Astrodome's owner had the dome's ceiling painted gray. Another problem soon emerged as the light-deprived grass on the field began to die. Ever the rationalist, the dome's owner, former Texas judge Roy Hofheinz, found that chemical company Monsanto had successfully produced a plastic turf called ChemGrass that looked and acted similar to natural grass.


­Hofheinz ordered three acres of the stuff for the Astrodome. As a tribute to their first big sale, Monsanto then changed ChemGrass to its more commonly known name, AstroTurf. Today, AstroTurf and other synthetic grasses that have emerged to compete with the original are marketed as alternatives to natural grass. It can be found on some backyard putting greens, and in yards of homeowners who gave up on natural grass.

Synthetic turf isn't the only alternative to a grass lawn. Some homeowners have decided to forgo greenery entirely and replaced their lawns with rock. A rock-based landscape certainly never needs mowing. Aside from removing dead leaves fallen from nearby trees and weeds that take root, rock is a very low-maintenance alternative to grass.

Several alternatives exist for those who prefer live greenery over rock or synthetic turf, but still don't want the hassle of mowing.