Maintaining a lawn can be very difficult, and some people who experience the joys of autumn, winter and early spring in the North West can understand the temptation of artificial turf in Lancashire.

Rather than have a beautiful lawn be at the mercy of cold and stormy weather, synthetic lawns instead provide a beautiful, easy to maintain garden in seconds without the need for regular watering, mowing or weeding.

It has seen use in sport as well, with artificial and hybrid pitches found in several major sports in the UK, including cricket and rugby at a professional level sometimes using what has been described as a 4G pitch.

What is 4G? It stands for fourth generation and whilst the term is disputed in some circles, it highlights the rapid evolution of artificial grass over the past 60 years.

The first generation of artificial grass was developed in the 1960s and was initially known as ChemGrass before becoming much better known as AstroTurf, named after the Houston Astrodome that became the first stadium in the world to use an artificial playing surface instead of natural grass.

Second generation turf, developed in the 1980s, aimed to look, feel and have a similar property to real grass by adding a sand-infill to help grass stay upright and allow for slightly longer blades than the initial low-cut AstroTurf.

Third generation turf is the most common and most popular, and replaces sand with a rubber crumb infill, although other infills have been used as well. Not only does this allow for a more natural texture and for grass to stay upright, but also provides a more natural feel underfoot and shock absorbing.

Fourth-generation grass is not officially a new grade of turf, but instead of requiring a rubber infill, has more padding that gives it the natural texture and shock absorbent qualities expected of 3G pitches.