Poolside: Fake Grass

And you thought the only places you could install artificial turf was on the sports filed or under your dog.

Well, think again.

Putting turf near and around your swimming pool does a lot of good things:

  • Helps drainage.
  • Eliminates mud
  • Is decorative

Here’s an example. Try it.

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Sand and Infill

Of all of the elements of the artificial grass install, few are as important or as misunderstood as the application of infill.

The infill is the final “part” to be attached to the installation. In most instances it is silica sand poured onto and sifted into the blades of the turf.

The silica sand used is more “pure” than run-of-the-mill sand purchased at the hardware store for your kid’s sandbox or of the type used in the production of concrete. Silica sand granules are close to being perfectly round and easier (more likely) to be sifted to the bottom of the blades and onto the base of the turf.

The application of sand does two things:

  • It holds the turf in position.
  • Makes the individual blades of grass stand upright.

By weighing down the turf, this allows the glue to take hold and supplements the holding power of the stakes driven into the turf.  The whole package keeps the turf from shifting and allows it to feel firm as the real grass it replaces.

Raking in the sand makes it sink to the bottom of the installation.  Hundreds of pounds of sand are used on each installation.

Making the blades of grass stand up not only makes the close-up appearance look real, it also makes the “step-back” look of the turf look real.  You have to see it to appreciate it.

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The Tools of Our Trade

As professional landscapers using artificial turf, we use a few different tools in our work than do those who do other kinds of landscaping.

We use everything from cutters to brooms and compactors to rollers. Each step in our process requires something new.

Let’s follow our process and give you an idea of what does work for us.

First, we have to remove the original, “real” turf.  For that we use a turf cutter.  This is the same machine turf growers use to cut fresh, new grass from the field for installation at new locations.

Wheelbarrows and rakes.  Our process involves putting down layers of granite and fabric before we lay the turf itself.  To haul in the crushed granite takes a wheelbarrow; to spread it takes rakes.

Once the granite is spread (between layers of fabric), it has to be pressed down using a compactor.  This machine is also used in landscaping and road building.  By compacting the granite, it firms up the base so that the turf on top doesn’t move and maintains its location and shape.

Once the turf is rolled, stretched and glued and staked in place, the infill sand has to be applied.  This involves the use of a basic garden spreader, just like most of us use to apply fertilizer to our non-fake grass lawns.

It is a process and involves the specialized use of familiar tools.  But the final product is unique, clean, useful and beautiful.  Tools are a beautiful thing.

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Can You Drive Farther with a Turf Tee Box?

You’re at the driving range before your round of golf.  You tee it up and drive.  The swing feels good; the connection with the ball was right, and a few more things—

  • A clean club face.
  • No divot
  • No muddy spikes

You look down and notice that your tee box is clean.  On closer inspection, those blades of grass are not real.  Wow.

Recently, Lakewood Country Club upgraded their driving range tee boxes to artificial turf for just those reasons.

“Everybody who hits off the turf tee box loves it,” Mike Plummer, Superintendent at Lakewood told Marco Gortana of Synthetic Grass Pros. “It was a great choice.”

The key to these new boxes is synthetic turf or fake grass.  And the changeover is usually done is one day.

“Our process is a combination of landscape preparation and carpet installation,” Mr. Gortana said.  Mr. Gortana is a sales representative for Synthetic Grass Pros (www.syntheticgrasspros.com), an artificial turf dealer and installer.  “A driving range tee box is probably the best example of combining real grass and artificial turf in the landscaping world.”

Tim Dvorak, co-owner of Synthetic Grass Pros, and his team prepared and installed the turf driving surface in one day.

“What sets us apart is that we not only sell the product, we also install it,” Mr. Dvorak said.  “And the team of installers is made up of employees of our company and experienced landscapers.”

The tee boxes were installed in March ready for the start of the season.  Low maintenance and quick installation are keys to the success of the product and use.

For more information, contact Synthetic Grass Pros at 972-420-7800.  Synthetic Grass Pros is a woman-owned business providing landscape installation of artificial turf products for use in residential and commercial landscape applications.  Synthetic Grass Pros are dealers for a variety of American-made artificial turf products including Pro Putt, Perfect Putt and PetPerfect among others.

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This is NOT your Daddy’s AstroTurf

When it opened in 1966, the Houston Astrodome was a unique venue. But it also had a unique problem: how do you grow grass in an indoor sports stadium?

You don’t.

So, Donald L. Elbert, James M. Faria and Robert T. Wright, employees of the Monsanto Company, came up with the bright idea to make fake grass. AstroTurf, Chemgrass, NexTurf, synthetic grass has had many names over the years. Like cell phones, personal computers and MP3 players, artificial grass has evolved over the years. Left behind is its former image of the bright-green, fake carpet-like covering on putt-putt courses and in sport arenas. Now artificial grass is so realistic, you would mistake it for the real stuff.

But unlike real grass, synthetic grass is truly green. Made from recyclable materials and 100 percent recyclable itself, artificial grass is the ultimate environmentally-friendly solution for problem outdoor areas. From pet runs to play areas, poolside or on a roof-top deck, synthetic grass employs the latest technology that makes it function just like real grass.

“People traditionally resorted to stone, concrete or other hard surfaces in problem areas,” Kimberly Van Buren, co-owner of Synthetic Grass Pros said. “Now we’re able to give them softer, greener options with artificial grass.”

Over 59 million square feet of synthetic turf was installed in North America in 2005. By 2009, that number had reached 124 million square feet.

What’s causing this growth? Lower maintenance costs, favorable environmental aspects and the want to have a perpetually green environment.

What has improved over the years? Better backings; durable yarns of varying lengths, colors and density. They wear a lot better than previous variations and it drains like the real stuff, too. Plus, fake grass comes with a warranty.

Backyard golf greens are now just a day away from being a reality. Practice putting and chipping without driving to the range or golf course. A custom green that meets your unique needs—from undulations to hole placement—is within reach both of time and budget.

“Whether you have the entire back yard at your disposal or just a
narrow strip between the fence and the pool,” Marco Gortana, Synthetic Grass Pros golf professional said, “We will help you plan your personalized green.”

Sand-based greens and shock pads cause the artificial greens to respond like your favorite course. Add a portable chipping mat and practice your short game from anywhere in the yard.

Interior designers are creating a “Zen-like spa feel” around backyard pools. By mixing synthetic landscape materials with hardscape, the end result is a cohesive blend of flagstone and artificial grass. It’s gorgeous, low-maintenance and just as beautiful after years of use as it was the day it was installed.

Side yards go from being eyesores to beautiful and functional. Useless tracts of lawn become dog runs. Schools, daycares, batting cages, indoor soccer facilities and more have discovered the benefits of artificial grass.

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Seven Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Contractor

Before you go out and hire someone to do work for you on your home or at your business, there are seven critical questions you need to ask of them (or yourself) first:

  1. Do they have a permanent place of business?
  2. Do they have proper and adequate insurance?
  3. Are they a member of a trade association in good standing?
  4. How long have they been in business?
  5. What is their track record for handling complaints?
  6. What is their workmanship warranty?
  7. Can they meet your project-specific needs?

Having a permanent place of business gives them credibility.  It shows they ahve substance and are serious about doing business with you or any other client.

They should be able to produce proof of insurance or certification of insurance.  If they can’t you and they are not protected in case of injury, loss or death.

Being a member of a trade association shows they comply with ethical and accepted industry guidelines.  They are recognized by their peers to be professional.

Being in business for a significant amount of time is a judgment of stability.

How they handle complaints and deal with customers will mirror how you may have to deal with them.  Ask for references and check with the Better Business Bureau.

Warranties and support after the sale or installation is critical for your happiness and their success. What do they offer in terms of replacement parts or materials or rework?

Your project may have specific requirements:

  • Do they comply with local ordinances?  That is, do they know permitting processes for your locality?
  • Do they have a good selection of products?
  • Can they share manufacturer’s specifications with you?
  • What is their clean up policy?
  • What are their payment terms?
  • Do they conduct preliminary and periodic inspections?
  • Lots to think about but ultimately will result in your satisfaction and safety.

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Water Conservation and Artificial Turf Products

Artificial turf is a better choice for the environment when it comes to water use and conservation, particularly if you live in a dry climate or somewhere that needs to conserve water. If you have artificial turf, you don’t need:

  • Fertilizer and water
  • Gas-powered lawnmowers or string trimmers

Real lawns use upwards of 20,000 or more gallons of water a year. The carbon sequestration abilities of real grass are probably negated by the mowing and fertilizers used to maintain it. Fertilizers not only pollute waterways, but require a lot of energy to produce.

A study by Sweden’s Stockholm University found that an hour’s worth of mowing resulted in about the same amount of emissions as driving a car 93 miles.

Knowing this, it is important to consider your lawn care habits and the climate of your area. If you tend to mow your lawn frequently, use fertilizer, water it daily, and think water conservation is important in your region, then perhaps artificial grass is right for your situation. It’s probably not only good for the climate, but it’s an investment that will start saving you money in reduced maintenance and water costs.

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Artificial Turf for the Four-Legged Members of the Family

Synthetic or artificial turf varieties vary by their usage.  As we discussed in an earlier post, different characteristics allow for different uses.  Even Fido gets a specialized variety—just like you would choose a natural turf, so should you consider a special artificial turf for your dog run, kennel or pet play area.

Synthetic turf products, like Pet Perfect Turf, have the following characteristics:

  • A dense blade weave to support the heavy foot traffic of dogs.
  • Short pile height to make cleanup easy.
  • Easy draining backing so that it can be rinsed with mild disinfectant

These specialized turf products are good for the following applications:

  • Backyard dog runs
  • Shelters
  • Kennels
  • Apartments
  • Veterinary clinics
  • Parks and pet play areas

Cost for these products vary, but typically cost in the $8.00 to $10.00 per square foot range.

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How to Measure Turf

Just as you might choose a diamond for color, cut and clarity, artificial turf and grass products are measured and defined by different characteristics. There are four basic measures of the quality and type of turf:

  • Pile height
  • Face weight
  • Color
  • Yarn type

Pile height is the height of the actual blades of “grass” in inches. They vary in size from 0.5 inches to 2.5 inches. The shorter lengths are used for putting greens; the longer versions for pet turf and lawn applications.

Face weight is the weight in ounces of a square yard of the product. Like carpet, the grade varies with application and ranges from 40 ounce to 120 ounce, with 60 ounce being typical.

Colors are as varied as “real” turf. There are many different colors, mostly variations of green, but the most common are:

  • Field green
  • Grass green
  • Olive green
  • Lime green

Some varieties of turf will include more than one color, depending on the natural turf they are mimicking.

Yarn type is the description of the blades. Most are Polyethylene variants that includes types that are labeled monofilament and slit film. Thatch is the textured yarn within the blades.

Consider your application carefully and, as you would in choosing a carpet or floor covering, consider wear patterns, usage and aesthetics.

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SGP at the Construction Expo

Where else but at a trade show can you ask questions directly and see and touch the products you want to buy.  Trade shows are a great way for buyers to meet sellers. They also let buyers talk to other buyers and for sellers to meet potential partners.

The Construction Expo coming up at the Dallas Convention Center is certainly something we don’t want to miss. If you are an architect, engineer, designer, general contractor or commercial or residential builder, you won’t want to miss it either.

Synthetic Grass Pros will be there along with a number of other suppliers to the building and construction business.  This is a business-to-business trade show, so if you own, operate or work for a business that can benefit from either the expo or the training sessions, then plan on attending.

There will also be seminars and classes on everything from Quickbooks to real estate investing to low-cost marketing to construction sales and bidding.

Learn more at www.constructionexpo.com.

See you there.

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