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Water, water everywhere….

Remember that one of the most effective conservation-related things you can do with your new home or office is to install efficient, proven landscape materials.

Artificial turf should be one of those elements.

Using ariticial turf as a part of your landscape plan:

  • Reduces water use significantly.
  • Eliminates runoff of excess water and chemicals into groundwater.
  • Minimizes the rainwater runoff.

Some simple considerations–artificial turf is a ggreat way to go.

The Grass Queen

Six Things to Know Before Hiring a Contractor

We’ve discussed this in this space before, but it is worth the reminder. As you do your planning for home and office improvements for the coming year, be sure you know enough about your contractor before you hire them.

Here’s a list that will help you choose and make the decision:

  1. Get multiple estimates. It will help you understand what the job should cost.
  2. Read consumer reviews. Hearing what others have to say about your candidate can help sway your decision.
  3. Call Licensing boards.  Be sure they have adequate liability coverage.
  4. Get several references.  Talking directly with their clients helps you understand how the contractor works.
  5. Negotiate a maximum hourly rate.  Helps contain costs.
  6. Always demand a lien release.  Protect yourself.

We’ll go over each of these steps in detail in future posts.  In the meantime, read the article from which this was borrowed in the January/February issue of AARP The Magazine (www.aarp.com/magazine).

The Grass Queen

Artificial Turf by the Pool

Now, really, I know winter is approaching.  But as you begin to plan your household budget for 2011, do you have some bucks set aside for those areas around your backyard swimming pool?

Seriously, you can save yourself a lot of trouble and spruce up that are just beyond the pool deck.  If your deck ends and the lawn begins, is that area muddy? Does the family dog swim as well and does he or she drag their wet body across the lawn and create mud?

Here’s the short answer: replace that lawn area with fake grass.  It will do these things for you:

  • Keep an area green that probably turns to mud when water from the pool splashes there or gets dragged there.
  • Reduce the amount of mud dragged either into the pool or into your home.
  • Eliminate having to replace the lawn year after year because of this overabundance of water.

Pool owners are you out there?

The Grass Queen

How Artificial Turf is Like Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving upon us, we couldn’t help but compare fake grass with the Thanksgiving holiday.

Both are always there:

  • Once installed, artificial turf is there all the time.
  • Thanksgiving comes every November.

They both have multiple names:

  • Artificial turf, fake grass, Astroturf
  • Turkey Day, Thanksgiving, Day of Thanks, Football Thursday

They both have components:

  • Backing, drainage layers, blades
  • Turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, parades, football, family.

Both serve an important purpose in your life:

  • Artificial turf saves you time, money, energy, water and the environment.
  • Thanksgiving brings you together with family and friends to appreciate the good things in life.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

The Grass Queen

The Backyard Putting Green

This comes under the heading of “why didn’t I have one of these sooner?”

  • A putting green in the backyard serves several ideas:
  • If you love golf, here’s a way for you to work on your short game without messing up the carpet
  • The backyard has a place that grass won’t grow and isn’t being used for something else anyway.

You needed a place to unwind after work and now you can do it in the comfort of your own backyard.

You can come up with more, but the truth is, it both helps the look of the yard and gives you an outlet. A backyard putting green is a sanity saver and can increase the value and appearance of your home. They are affordable and can be installed in less than a day.

The Grass Queen

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Reclaiming an area with artificial turf

Have you looked around your home, office or school and seen unused space in the yard or around the outside of the buildings?

Maybe you should consider a reclamation project.

“We recently completed a project that did just that,” Tim Dvorak said. “A local private high school came to us and needed an unused courtyard reworked as a special place for the senior kids.” Our turf was a great solution and it only took a few days to prepared and install the turf in the space, he said.

Tim is co-owner of Synthetic Grass Pros and understands how to best include artificial turf in a landscaping plan.

“Especially in schools, ” Tim continued. “Artificial turf saves on water and maintenance and makes useful an area that might have otherwise gone unused.”

So, whadda got to clear up and reuse?

The Grass Queen

Consider a putting green

Really, if you are an avid golfer and your short game is in need of help, why not have a putting green installed in your yard?

It isn’t all that much of an extravagance.  For about the price of a year’s worth of greens fees you could have a crisp, clean, useful putting surface at your disposal.  By using artificial turf and the installation techniques used in larger lawns, most installer can have a virtually maintenance-free putting surface in your yard within a day.  Note these advantages:

  • No watering or mowing
  • Ready within a day
  • No fees for use or having to delay your tee time
  • Usable year around

So, Mr. Golfer, why not?

The Grass Queen

Getting an Estimate for your Artificial Turf Installation

As you go out and price and select a dealer and installer for your new artificial turf project, make sure you get an accurate and complete estimate.

It’s the first clue your installer knows what they are doing.

Look for these elements in a complete estimate:

  • A schedule. When do things start? How long will it take to install?
  • Pricing. How much per square foot? What are you getting for the price? Do they break out labor from materials?
  • Guarantees and Warranties. What’s covered and what isn’t? Who does repairs? Will they cost you?
  • Expectations. Are you required to do anything–move things, haul away items?

This is just a starting place, but make sure you get things in writing and a commitment.

One more thing: before you start, can they give you a “ballpark” estimate for the project or cost per square foot?  This shows they can think on their feet.

The Grass Queen

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.

The Grass Queen

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.

The Grass Queen