A Green Alternative to Grass
By Gina Dostler
To swath a home in a perfect sea of green grass in Southern California requires irrigation, pesticides and fertilizers that contaminate the soil. Many water districts are encouraging the use of synthetic greens by offering rebates. Enrique Tuccio of Laguna Turf Synthetic Lawns gives a down-to-earth explanation on the benefits of installing artificial grass for landscaping, pets, and play.
Q: Why use artificial grass?
A: I know artificial grass has had a bad rap in the past. Recently it has been on the fast track to becoming a green solution. Technology has improved the quality and look and turf has taken a turn to rivaling the real stuff. There are synthetic grasses that truly give a very real look if that is what you are seeking. And with artificial grass, there is no trimming, no mowing, no watering, no re-sodding all the while giving a very consistent beautiful green look and feel to the entire lawn. You’ll only require about 10% of the time you used to spend on lawn care to maintain the artificial one. These grasses are great for kids, providing a safe, hypo-allergenic environment for them to play on. Interesting enough, I find most of my requests come from pet owner’s fed up with urine spots all over their grass and looking for solutions. Artificial grass provides just that.
Q: Artificial grass for pets actually works?
A: Absolutely. Dog runs no longer need to be made of concrete to provide an easy way to keep things tidy. Or backyard lawns keep perfectly green, no yellow spots. Artificial grass leaves no muddy paw prints and dogs can’t dig through it. The backing is perforated and the fibers used are non-absorbent and are made from the highest quality yarns, which have no toxic properties. All coatings, backings, glue, etc. that are used in the production process are also non-toxic, passing all ASTM and IPEMA requirements for use by children, animals and the environment. The system we use provides a cushioned area for your pets to romp about and a drainage system if needed (i.e., hard clay) that stays nice and is made to filter the urine through and out of the grass. The grass stays green, and when properly installed, there is no smell.
Q: Using artificial grass is not only green in color, but truly green?
A: The turf and infill are very environmentally friendly. Artificial grass reduces water consumption significantly since no watering is necessary. And since there is no need for the use of harmful pesticides and fertilizers, there are no nitrate run-offs into the water table, rivers and ocean typical of what drains off most grass lawns. And there is no more mowing necessary which eliminates another greenhouse effect. One hour of mowing pollutes the air as much as driving up to 100 miles in a car.
Q: What do you mean by infill and is it necessary?
A: There are crucial, functional reasons for infill. The primary reasons are the following: the infill gives a barrier and protects the tufts during activity. It’s used for ballast, to weigh down the product. It also gives the softness under your feet. And it offers a base for increased blade recovery. Durafill is the latest technology in infill product for synthetic grass. Animal urine and other external elements are not absorbed which eliminates the building of bacterial spores within the infill product. It does not degrade over time so no repeated applications are needed. And it doesn’t become hot in the heat, which would otherwise cause more heat transfer to the synthetic grass. Best of all it is environmentally safe and does not contain silica dust, zinc or heavy metals.
Q: When shopping for artificial grass, what is good to know?
A: It is very important to install a quality product. Be sure to compare and ask about face weights, blade types, backings and warranties. Warranties are specifically important because properties in the yarns dictate the length of the warranty. Also realize that the thicker the grass, the higher the durability, but the more artificial it tends to look. Getting a thicker weave is not always the best fit. You want to think about how much traffic the grass will get, such as kids running around, pets using it. If it is for aesthetic purposes only, a lighter weave is fine and will give a more realistic look and feel to the landscape. But the most important feature is the installation. It needs to be done right.
Q: Putting greens are becoming popular in backyards, utilizing green turf.
A: There are lots of custom design features installed to mimic famous courses. These putting greens can provide the ultimate home golf experience with different elevations for challenging play like a real green but without the maintenance of one. Selecting the right weave and weight of grass for the mock course is important. Also think about the heat factor. The turf can get hot in temperatures usually above 85-90 degrees in direct sunlight. And remember blade temperature can be decreased by infilling with Durafill, which does not heat like rubber leaving no intense heat to transfer into the blades of grass.
Q: Installing artificial grass is complicated?
A: Let’s just say it’s not as easy as it seems. And not all installations are the same. Installation quality is very important not only for aesthetics but for longevity as well. Go with an installer who has been certified and has several years under the belt installing artificial turf. Each installation has its own challenges and the more experience an installer has, the more knowledge garnered. It’s about how the sub-surface is sculpted, the edges are addressed, and how the product is secured. An integral part is the drainage system, the layer that sits between the grass and the ground. Drainage is needed when the soil such as clay, doesn’t drain quickly so a French drain system is set up that consists of sand and gravel to provide quick drainage so bacteria isn’t created and the grass remains fresh, not smelly.
Q: How does one maintain it?
A: Turf should be rinsed and groomed periodically. The frequency should be determined by the activity level. Being that it is made of polyethylene, a high grade plastic, the maintenance is easy. Simply rinse with water as needed. With pets, pick up solid waste and any residue and it can be spray cleaned. Rinse as frequently as needed to avoid odors, which are simply a build up of bacterial spores. For a thorough cleaning, which should rarely be needed, flush with an equal mixture of white distilled vinegar and water. Afterwards flush with water. This will neutralize all bacterial spores. Use a stiff bristled broom or a rake to groom up fibers, which will help prevent matting. If the turf is not groomed regularly or neglected and does matt substantially, having it professionally groomed mechanically can restore its appearance. It is also a good idea to have stepping stones or some form of path for a repeated, heavy traveled pattern through the turf.
Certified Installer and Owner
Laguna Turf Synthetic Lawns
29811 Preston Drive
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677