In 1966, the groundskeepers of the one-year old Houston Astrodome - known at the time as “The Eighth Wonder of the World” - were having difficulty getting grass to grow in the domed stadium. They made a decision that would spawn an entire industry: installing artificial turf, which became known as “AstroTurf.” Sports fields would never be the same again.
After more than 50 years of commercial use, artificial turf has now caught on with residential landscapers. Homeowners - especially those who have upscale residences - have fallen in love with synthetic turf and its role in outdoor entertaining! One of the most popular brands of artificial turf - GrassTex - is now rolling out the doors of Acme Brick Tile & Stone stores.
WHY CHOOSE TURF OVER NATURAL GRASS
One word comes to mind: MAINTENANCE.
There is little to no maintenance associated with synthetic turf. While natural grass is priced at less than $2 a square foot for initial landscaping, it can require monthly mowing and maintenance plus large quantities of water that add thousands of dollars a year to the total cost, according to this report.
By comparison, high-end synthetic grass can cost from $11 to $19 per square foot which includes soil foundation preparation, but it can pay for itself in saved expenses. Lawns of “faux” grass can last up to15 years and maintenance often only involves removing the occasional weed growth and caring for heavy trafficked areas that may flatten out over time and require stepping stones.
In a recent article on the popularity of residential turf, Christopher Brandon, of Brandon Architects in Costa Mesa, says about 75 percent of the projects he does for modern-style homes in Southern California have faux grass. “Homeowners like it because there is almost no maintenance, it doesn’t need water, it always looks tidy and it can be used in areas where real grass won’t grow. It gives properties a clean, high-end feel, and is especially good for certain amenities, such as zero-edge pools that tend to kill the real grass around them with the water’s chlorine,” he says.
A secondary reason for laying this artificial turf is to reduce water consumption for lawns in drought stricken or arid areas.
LIKE BRICK, TURF IS TOUGH
Synthetic turf has never been tougher. According to Reggie Barnes of Acme Brick Tile & Stone, today’s synthetic products, which are usually a combination of nylon, polyethylene and polypropylene, are made specifically for the home. They have better drainage, are built from highly durable materials, stay cooler in the sun, and remain in good condition for years.
Additionally, products such as GrassTex, use plastic polymers for grass blades that are woven into a permeable backing system made from plastics that are better bonded, stitched and seamed. It also features infill materials to keep the blades in position. The longer blades feel softer, and multiple blades woven together have a more grass-like feel. In most cases, the lawn is installed with a slight crown in the middle, as would be the case with natural grass.
TURF’S UP AT ACME BRICK TILE & STONE
There is a GrassTex turf product for just about every residential or commercial application.
The wide selection offers a choice for every need and budget:
- All Star Turf is made for soccer, bocce courts, football sidelines, and baseball applications. With the urethane back it can be used on swimming pool decks and other marine applications.
- Bases Loaded Turf is the complete turf for every use, include sports, putting greens, baseball batting cages, marine applications on unitary back and DIY projects.
- Santa Monica Turf is a first-tier landscape product. It is value priced and manufactured using blended polyethylene grass and polypropylene thatch to create a full-bodied lawn which reduces the amount of infill ballast needed. It is produced with drain holes making it ideal for pet areas. When cleaning is needed, just hose it down.
- Huntington Turf is a premium product that is used for golf and landscaping to mimic the most natural blend of grasses. Great for landscaping in hard to grow areas. It can be filled with two pounds of sand per square foot or secured with landscape stakes.
- San Diego Turf offers a realistic looking landscaping with little or no maintenance. Manufactured using a heavy denier bright green, smooth monofilament fiber combined with an 8 - ply thatch of spring set polypropylene creates a good surface for indoor sports facilities, pet areas, and landscaping.
- Visionary Turf is the ultimate in landscape turf. It is a brilliant grass green premium. The blended nylon thatch affords added body, reducing the amount of sand infill needed for ballast. It can also be used for indoor sports facilities, walkways, pet areas and other uses.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ARTIFICIAL TURF
As with every home improvement product, the decision about whether to install synthetic turf is driven by the homeowner’s objectives for its use.
According to Geoff Evans, of GrassTex, here are five questions to consider before installation.
- What are the primary reasons for installing this turf? If they want to use it to reduce clean-up from pets and children, the best length for the artificial blades is 1.5 inches or shorter.
- Is the turf just being used for improving curb appeal of the home, or is it going to have heavier use from sports activities?
- What amount of foot traffic will the synthetic turf receive?
- What part of the country is the home located? The geographic location will help the homeowner determine the most popular products for that area based on weather.
- What hue and blade length are most visually appealing to the homeowner?
Evans adds, “All GrassTex products are UV coated and protected from the sun and the warranty covers any fading. We base our warranty off the Sunbelt region of the USA, which gets the highest amount of direct sunlight. As for installation, contractors, landscape architects, and homeowners have all installed our products, but having the correct tools and landscaping expertise is advisable.”