One On One With Chad Vander Veen: All That’s Missing is the Smell of Cut Grass
Chad Vander Veen, marketing manager of Purchase Green, ventured to Orange County recently to help with installation of artificial grass won by a Trabuco Canyon family. Purchase Green last year held a contest to raise awareness about water conservation and promote artificial grass as a water-saving alternative to natural turf. Vander Veen estimates Purchase Green customers have saved more than 2 billion gallons of water since 2009.
Q: Water conservation is very important now. What additional reasons make the grass a great choice?
A: Lots of people choose artificial grass because they’re tired of spending good portions of their weekend doing yard work such as mowing. Artificial grass frees up your time with its very low maintenance. And since lawn mowers are significant sources of carbon emissions, using artificial grass also helps protect our air. Still others choose artificial grass simply because it looks amazing all year round. No dead spots, no brown grass during the winter months.
Q: Artificial grass sounds so, well, artificial. How real does it look and feel?
A: Yes, artificial is part of the name and there’s no hiding from it. And we don’t try to. We embrace it and we manufacture more than two dozen varieties as part of our effort to create a grass that meets each customer’s needs. I remember when I first started with Purchase Green, and though it sounds cliché, I was blown away by the realism of the grass. Like many people I was only familiar with artificial grass typically used on a municipal artificial grass field. The modern grass we make is in many cases nearly indistinguishable from natural grass. Despite having artificial in its name, it really does look, feel and perform like real grass.
Q: Can it handle the hot sun and salty air of coastal cities?
A: Absolutely it can. Purchase Green was created in Southern California. It’s important to note that for the grass to last a long time it needs to be installed correctly. And it does get warmer in direct sunlight than natural turf. But for folks on the coast, the best analogy is beach sand in terms of how hot it gets. And if that’s a concern, we have grasses engineered to stay cooler. We call those our cool yarn grasses. Our grass has a 10 year warranty and we expect a 20 year average lifespan from all of our grasses.
Q: Does artificial grass increase the heat factor? Grass does retain moisture and has a cooling effect.
A: I can’t say with certainty whether artificial grass contributes to a heat island effect. It’s possible, but residential artificial grass is a relatively new industry and I am presently unaware of any studies measuring such an effect. But like most things in life, we look for the greater good. The truth is California is struggling with water, both storage and delivery. And people are still going to continue to move here. Waiting for the government to build more water infrastructure isn’t a viable solution. But switching to artificial grass has a real, tangible impact on water conservation. An 800 square foot artificial grass lawn can save more than 600,000 gallons of water within 15 years.
Q: Are all artificial grasses the same?
A: Across the industry quality varies. But we manufacture our own grass so we can ensure it’s the best on the market. The only thing I’d caution against is buying used artificial grass. In many cases it is salvaged from old sports fields and may not be up to present standards.
Q: Are there many varieties?
A: We have 30 varieties, which include putting green grasses, and each is created for specific purposes. We use a number of different shapes for the individual blades – some are flat, some a V-shaped, some are W-shaped, etc. Each shape has specific attributes such as enhanced durability or reduced temperature. Other factors that differentiate each grass are the height of the blades, their density per square yard, their color and their shine. Some people, for example, prefer a shinier grass so it looks wet. Some prefer less shine so the grass looks dry. There are many different varieties to suit each customer’s needs.
Q: How easy is it to maintain?
A: Artificial grass is low maintenance. However, it is not maintenance free. Homeowners with artificial grass should, at least monthly, rake their grass with a stiff, plastic-bristled broom known as Grandi Grooms and cost about $25. This helps keep the grass looking its best. For serious stains or if cleaning up after pets is not done promptly, artificial grass cleaning products, such as our Turf Bomb cleaner, can clean up to 6,000 square feet. Such products can be used sparingly since most pet stains can be cleaned with a quick spray from the hose. But beyond an occasional sweep and cleanup of significant stains, there is very little maintenance required.
Q: How easy is it to install?
A: I hate to give you the “it depends” answer but it does. What it depends on is largely the amount of labor involved. A proper installation includes excavating three inches down and backfilling with a crushed rock sub base to ensure the grass remains stable and doesn’t buckle with the expansion and contraction of native soil. So really rocky soil, soil with a lot of roots or very large yards will require more labor. Installation in itself is not a complicated process, but is typically a labor-intensive one.
Q: Are any chemicals involved in the installation?
No, the only things you need to install artificial grass, besides the grass itself, are landscape bend-a-board (for a proper installation), crushed rock for a sub-base and non-galvanized nails. You should also use infill once the grass is installed. We offer a basic silica sand infill or a higher-end product which is silica sand coated with green acrylic and infused with zinc pyrithione, which is used in many products to inhibit the growth of fungus and bacteria. We do not sell crumb rubber infill nor do we recommend its use for artificial grass landscaping.
Chad Vander Veen, spokesman
949 N. Cataract, Suite B, San Dimas, California 91773.