Sometimes, a yard becomes so hard to maintain. You always have to trim it, feed it, weed it and mow it. If you want a green yard that needs none of those, opting for artificial grass might be a good idea. You will surely save time and effort, money and your back from consistent lawn maintenance.
Fake grass might make others scoff, but its use for landscaping is now growing in the US by 10% to 15% annually, according to the Association of Synthetic Grass Installers. Artificial grass has moved beyond your local mini-golf course and football fields into more and more homes.
The common areas where artificial grass is used are not just on lawns, but also on rooftops, pool surroundings, children’s play areas, patios, decorative borders on pavements and walkways, and on shaded areas in home yards. Artificial grass is made of nylon, polyethylene or polypropylene and is trimmed, colored and designed to look like different species of grass. Nowadays, there so many types of artificial grass available in the market that are very natural-looking, making it difficult to tell whether it’s fake grass or not.
However, it pays to have a more natural-looking lawn. The least-expensive types might look cheap and fake, so make sure to get the highest quality of artificial grass you can afford. Professional installation is pricey – it could cost up to $5 to more than $20 per square foot. But when it’s done, maintenance is free, and it can possibly last up to 15 to 25 years.
Pros and cons of having an artificial lawn
An artificial lawn is known for its eco-friendly and owner-friendly properties. It does not need any mowing, seeding, fertilizing and trimming. It reduces your water bill and gas costs. It also helps you save time and energy, as it surely would remove those rigorous lawn maintenance tasks from your weekly to-do list.
Of course, the other main reason why people go for fake grass is that it doesn’t die. You can always make sure that your lawn looks greener than your neighbors’ side for all. Quality artificial grass can be beautiful, lush, rich-looking and inviting – making it a perfect spot for letting your pets and children play, or for you and your family to hang out and relax.
However, the use of artificial grass has its drawbacks too. Yes, it can reduce your water bill, but let’s face it – it needs water to be clean. Because it is made from plastic and other artificial compounds, it can also radiate heat, rather than bring fresh air. Be careful with it during scorching hot summer days – it can be too hot to the point that it can burn compared to regular grass. This is the reason why you still need to water the material: to keep it cool. If you are living in places with intense sunlight, it is recommended that you would only install artificial grass in shaded areas.
And because it is fake and the soil is blocked underneath, it can’t absorb and break down liquids like spilled drinks. Those fallen leaves and another organic won’t decompose into the soil. Also, most artificial lawns are still non-recyclable, so after its life of 25 years (more or less), it will only end up in a landfill. If you have pets they are still going to need an area of real grass to do their duty.
Installing a synthetic grass lawn requires extensive work, so it is recommended that you hire a professional, but you can do it yourself if you have extensive experience in DIY projects. Here’s an overview of the steps to install to give you an idea. We would recommend getting a complete installation guide.
1. Remove existing grass or plants.
Clear all the existing grass, weeds and plant materials from the area where you want to put artificial grass. Use a spade or sod cutter and dig the soil down to 1 ½ to 2 ½ inches. If you need to use an herbicide or weed killer to eliminate existing weeds, make sure to use it according to the directions to prevent damages and harm to other plants. Clear up days before installing your artificial turf.
2. Add an aggregate base
Add a layer of aggregate sand, crushed stone, grit or decomposed granite over the entire area and compact it to create a solid base. This will serve as a well-draining base. Just make sure that it will not sit higher than the surrounding area. After spreading the aggregate, use a water sod roller, a piece of wood or flat board to flatten and smoothen the surface.
3. Protect the area from weeds
Add a layer of weed-suppressing membrane or fabric over the base and secure it with landscape staples. This is one of the most important steps you need to do since you don’t want weeds springing up your fake grass lawn. Choose the best quality weed barrier – those that would last up to 15 to 25 years.
4. Add a layer of shock-absorbent material
If you want to add cushioning to your fake grass, you may add a shock-absorbent material before putting the artificial grass. Cut the sheet into shape using a utility knife. This is an optional step only.
5. Roll out the artificial grass and nail it in place
Lay down the artificial grass on the ground and cut it to fit your area using a carpet knife or box cutter. If you are covering a large area, put two sides together and make sure the grass blades are going in the same direction. Put the two pieces together using carpet seaming tape or landscape staples. Attach the turf from the edges to every 1 to 6 inches along the perimeter by using galvanized nails. Work on one side at a time so you can pull the grass layer tightly on the other side.
6. Add a layer of silica sand
On the lawn surface, add a layer of silica sand for sandblasting, applying around 2 pounds per square foot. Use a drop spreader for even coverage. This will help stabilize the artificial grass and prevent it from moving out of place.
7. Brush the sand
After spreading the layer of sand, use soft- to medium-bristled broom and brush it against the direction of the blades to lift it up. Brush evenly and be careful not to overdo it as it could misshape the “grass.”
Having an artificial turf doesn’t mean you will never have to do maintenance again. You still need to keep it clean and beautiful to get the most out of your investment.
How often you need maintenance will be affected by different factors. If there are trees, shrubs, and plants near your artificial turf, you would likely need to clean it more often than those homeowners who did not place their fake grass that way. If you live in a dusty area, you may need to rinse your lawn more often than usual. If you have outdoor pets or little children who play outside, you may need to spray your lawn with water from a hose more often.
An artificial lawn needs weekly and monthly maintenance. Once a week, you have to rinse down your lawn lightly with water to remove dust and debris. The best way to do it is by using a hose with sprayer. During summer, you may need to do this more often because of the heat. But if you would experience rains, then you could skip and thank nature for doing the artificial lawn rinsing for you.
Every month, take time to groom your lawn to clean it and keep the blades standing properly. The artificial grass can get flat after some time, especially if you, your family and your pets spend time walking or hanging out in that area. Use a stiff-bristled broom or a stiff brush and brush it against the direction where the blades are inclined to help them stand. This would also help in removing dirt, leaves, and debris; keep the sand infill on the lawn from compacting, and prevent matting. To remove deep-seated dirt and buried debris, you need extra effort in brushing your artificial grass. There are electric-powered lawn brushed designed for this task.
Here are some more helpful tips for taking care of your artificial grass:
- Avoid using sharp objects for cleaning your grass. Keep it away from anything sharp for they can rip the protective membranes under the artificial grass layer.
- Remove organic debris like leaves and dead plants as soon as possible. Leaving them for so long would likely cause organic build-up, which can encourage weed growth and damage the lawn drainage. Simply pick them up, brush them off or use a leaf blower.
- If you have pets that would happen to relieve themselves on your fake lawn, make sure you would clean their wastes up as quickly as possible. Use a hose to spray down the area where a pet has urinated. Pet droppings must be picked up and removed using a scooper, a plastic bag or any preferred tool. To make maintenance easier for you, potty train your pets to prevent them from releasing on the “grass” and/or make a separate potty area for them.
- Keep your artificial grass clean and odor-free by using a turf deodorizer, especially if your pets always tend to urinate and defecate in your fake lawn. But since this natural tendency is inevitable for pets, you may have to make adjustments for installation. Choose to include a turf deodorizer to the base preparation beforehand for enhanced air circulation.
- Keep watch when children and pets are playing in the artificial lawn. Dogs might dig and it could rip the underlay. Children might try to pick off your fake grass blades, leaving some areas bald. If they have a tendency to do so, keep their hands and paws away from the artificial lawn.
- Spills must be cleaned up right away to prevent staining the artificial turf. Most spills can be rinsed away with water, but if some residue would still remain, use a mild soap and water.
- Sticky stuff like chewing gum or candy should be picked up immediately. But if a piece of gum would stick and become hard to remove, you can chill it with an ice cube so that it can break off from the “grass” more easily.
- Keep motor vehicles away from the fake grass. Any spills that would come from it such as grease, motor oil, lubricants, and other substances can damage the artificial turf.
- Avoid smoking, lighting fireworks and grilling in your fake lawn because fire sparks might burn it. Only do these activities on areas at a safe distance from the “grass.”