ALL ABOUT TURF
All About Turf
By now everyone has heard of fake turf. Different people use different names for turf: from synthetic turf to artificial grass to fake lawns. It's all the same. Our purpose for this section is to help educate the public accurately with reliable and honest answers to help you choose the right turf product for your home, business, playground, pet use or sporting needs (like football, baseball, soccer and golfing). You can also go to the Synthetic Turf Council for more FAQs and information. Whether you choose Artificial Grass Inc for your artificial grass needs or not we hope that by having this educational section about turf, we will have played a big part in your decision making process when you are ready to take that step. Whichever company you choose to go with for your fake turf needs we hope they are as honest as we are. In educating the public about synthetic turf we believe that every company (including ourselves) should do so in an unbiased way, and not just do so to sell products. We believe in the guidelines and ethical business practices set forth by the turf council. Have fun reading and educating yourself with the turf basics so you'll be prepared when you decided to turf.
So, what is turf
It is an artificial product or surface that is manufactured to resemble and look like real grass. A simpler definition would be: a man-made material designed to look like natural grass. It can be made to resemble many varieties of real grass out there like: St. Augustine, Bermuda, Marathon, Kentucky Blue Grass, and many others.
Now that you know what fake turf is, let's see why it is so popular in schools, hotels, city parks and playgrounds, sports, and homes.
A little history about turf
There are several key components to how turf is made, such as: pile fiber yarn, backing fabric, tufting process, foam and urethane backing, ultra-violet stabilization.
Synthetic turf first took notice back in the 1950s. It was thought of as another option that would provide a soft and safe surface year round for children and young people to get them to exercise more. However, the product did not produce good results. Complaints of the turf not being soft enough, not feeling real, and not visually appealing surfaced. These complaints led to bad press for fake lawns. But, that's all history!
How turf has changed
Today it's a whole different story. Materials such as yarns and backing, manufacturing techniques, improved installation procedures, and technology have extensively refined production at the factory. Fake grass now provides a safe, soft and easy to manage surface that looks and feel every bit as good as real grass.
Why has turf changed and why has it become so popular
As environmental and water shortage concerns grow, so does the quality of fake lawns. Technological advances lead to the improved quality of the product; thus improves the growth in popularity. As climate changes create water shortages, lawnmowers and other machinery use to tend lawns emit carbon dioxide, add those to the overuse of pesticides; as well as many other benefits, we now see artificial grass everywhere. No longer is turf made only for sports fields, it's now used on pathways, traffic circles, shopping centers, and your very own backyard.
Today's lifestyle has also changed dramatically. People now want to spend their free time with family and friends. Very few people now have the time to spend working in the garden or in the garage. With longer hours of work during the weekdays more prevalent than ever before, it's no wonder synthetic grass has become so popular.
There are also many places where natural grass just cannot grow. You've tried a million ways and it just won't grow. Still, other places to use fake grass to give it a green look are showrooms, rooftops, patios, campgrounds, and even movie sets. The reason why turf is so popular now goes on and on.
Let's get familiar with turf and its many products
Why are there so many different turf products
When picking out a new car different people have different tastes in style, make, model and color. Turf is no different. Some people like Bermuda, some like Marathon, others like St. Augustine and so forth. Some prefer thick and dark blades while others prefer thinner blades with a lighter shade of green, and still others prefer a mixture of dark and light colors blended together. Location also matters - the west coast doesn't get as much rain as the east coast so west coast lawns aren't as lush as the yards in the east. So turf products are made for every scenario you can think of.
With so many products, how do I choose the right turf for me
With the growing number of companies selling synthetic lawns and the new generation of products to choose from, it's important to know what to look for when you decide to replace your traditional lawn with fake grass. A couple key ingredients to look for are: face weight and backing. Face weight is the amount of yarn per sq yard in your product. The higher the face weight, the more turf you will have. The backing stabilizes your turf and holds it together. Typically, one of the most important aspects of your turf is the amount of urethane applied to the backing. In general 20-24 ounces is the recommended standard for the industry. Too little urethane and the fibers can be pulled out by hand under the sun. Too much and the backing warps under heat. You also want to choose a turf product that is denser as opposed to a product that is sparse. This means that when you look at the spacing between the blades from top view you shouldn't see too much space. The reason for this is when you buy turf for your yard you want it to look like you bought grass instead of sand. Sand is the sand infill (fake dirt). We do NOT use rubber infill here at Artificial Grass Inc.
Here are other features to consider when purchasing artificial grass:
1. Grass blades that are parallel fibrillated blades, not honeycomb fibrillated.
2. Backing that is thick and durable, preferably one that is multi-layered and dimensionally stable (sometimes the most important piece of any product is the part you don't see). A 20 ounce urethane backing is the standard for the industry.
3. Fibers manufactured to stand upright, preferably using a special "heat crimped" fiber design.
4. A synthetic lawn that needs a limited amount of infill (sand), so it keeps a natural feel and doesn't cause infill to track into your home, but still lets the blades stand upright. Turf that are over 50 ounces on the face weight offer more stability.
What are the benefits of turf
We all love real grass and not every location is right for fake turf; however, not everyone can keep or maintain real grass. In some locations real grass can't even grow. The benefits of having artificial lawns range from maintenance to appeal to utility bills. The following are just some of the benefits you can have with turf.
Very low maintenance (no mowing, weeding, or watering)
Always green and always beautiful
Great in places where natural sod cannot grow
For sports applications the benefits are even more substantial, ranging from:
Increase of hours of playtime
Improved field conditions and performance
Reduced lifecycle costs of indoor and outdoor recreation surfaces
All weather availability
How do I care for my new turf
The degree of maintenance will depend upon the particular application and degree of use. For example, artificial sports turf installed on a football field will be used to a far greater degree than the turf you put in your lawn at home.
Of course having a fake lawn doesn't mean that it's going to be maintenance free. It means that your maintenance requirements will be reduced to once or twice per month as oppose to a daily chore. And those are just your basic picking up of leaves or other particles that may have fallen on your lawn. Artificial Grass of Southern California will provide you with a simple maintenance guide with your grass purchase so you can keep your lawn…always beautiful!
Below are just a few of the basic steps you can do to keep your turf clean and healthy. For more information about maintenance go to our maintenance section or visit the Synthetic Turf Council (STC) website listed at the beginning of this tutorial section.
1. Ensure that the turf surface is kept clean and free of any leaves or other litter. This is usually done by thorough brushing (by push broom with a rotating brush, or leaf blower) monthly, which also helps to keep the sand infill well distributed. While an ungroomed surface may be usable, regular grooming can prolong the useful life of the surface and keep it looking fresh and inviting. The recommended frequency of grooming depends on the amount of use your lawn receives and its location. It may be advisable to groom more frequently if the lawn is heavily used.
2. Check whether the top 5mm of sand infill needs filling to avoid compaction or it may need topping up because heavy use has affected its distribution. It is important to ensure the turf's permeability and also to prevent the artificial grass fibers from becoming damaged.
3. Don't throw chewing gum into the turf lawn (if gum is present it is best removed by freezing with ice first).
4. For sports surfaces, avoid mud being brought into the playing area - one of the best ways to deal with this is to provide scraper mats or grills at any entrance point(s) so that the problem never occurs in the first place.
5. The maintenance guidelines may suggest topdressing the surface with additional infill during its lifetime to retain performance characteristics and to extend the life the lawn or field.
Finally, how much does it cost
Cost is always a factor in anything you buy. We've already learned that turf costs more than natural grass initially because it is a manufactured product (meaning it takes different materials and steps to make the final product). The installation also involves a few more tools and materials and is a greater labor process. Generally, the initial investment of natural sod cost about $2 per square feet (fully installed). Turf costs between $7.50 - $10.00 per square feet (fully installed), depending on which product of turf you go with. Putting Greens generally start at around $10.00
But let's look at what each requires:
Natural sod requirements to keep it healthy and visually appealing:
Pressurized irrigation system with timer (average cost about $1400)
Lawn mower (average cost about $300 plus gas and other machine maintenance like: edger and blower)
Yearly fertilizing and weed killing agents and sod patches
Maintain it yourself or pay a gardener
Water bill (the average natural grass lawn water usage is 20,000 gallons per season
Turf requirements to keep surface healthy and visually appealing:
Pick up leaves, litter, any debris, and occasional brooming care
So, when you add it all up it's not much of a difference. Before you start comparing costs look at it in 3 steps: (1) initial capital cost (2) future capital cost (3) annualized operating cost. Initial capital cost is the excavation and base drainage and irrigation costs, future capital costs are the replacements of equipment such as lawn mowers or other equipment and product(s) needed for replacement, and annualized operating costs are material replacements and maintenance work.
Peace of Mind
While the "initial cost" between a natural or artificial surface may seem like there is a wide gap; when it's all said and done the price you pay may have nothing to do with your money but everything to do with your time!
Did you know that you can get rebates for installing an artificial surface? Your local water district gives a $ 0.30 rebate per square foot of turf that is installed on your property. All you have to do is fill out the rebate form after you've installed your turf and take it to your water company, and you will receive a check made out to your name in about 6-8 weeks. There are also other additional rebates, to find out more information go to www.bewaterwise.com.
"Let's get ready to… TURF"
So, how familiar are you with turf now? If you were buying turf today would you be ready and confident?
There is a misconception that all fake grass is the same, or made the same. That is far from the truth. Even more confusing is differentiating the companies that make and sell fake turf and what they say or tell you (the customer). The details about products and the companies that make the products into a finished landscape or ball field are just equally important.
Artificial grass projects, whether for your personal home or for a builder of a community or sports field, is a major financial investment. It is also a high-profile investment. What this means is that the project gets noticed, talked about, read about in the local papers, and sometimes it even makes the local television news. When things go well, there is a great sense of community pride. When things go wrong, there are lots of frustration and embarrassment that really puts a resentful attachment on your investment and effort.
Whether or not the project goes well (home lawn, sports field, playground) is very much associated with the company behind the product components. From scheduling, cooperating with other contractors, delivering what has been ordered, quality of the workers and communications; challenges will come up in every project and sometimes there are work order changes. It's a matter of how those changes and challenges are dealt with those matters the most. In the fake turf industry, some companies have warranties that outlive the company. This concern should be heavily weighed when evaluating which company you choose for your turf. Partner is more the right word because a lawn or field that lasts 10 or more years requires a partner and not just a supplier.
The following is a list of things you should look for when deciding to buy synthetic grass for your home lawn, playground, or sports field:
for a good product you typical want these characteristics (unless you are just turfing an area for aesthetic reasons and no traffic will go on it)
A heavier face weight of around 46 - 50 ounces (reason is you want more grass than sand infill so your lawn or field looks lush)
A good thick backing that is durable (preferably one that is multi-layered)
Pick a grass color that will match what your neighbors have so that your lawn looks natural with theirs
Picking a company for your turf product:
Look for a company with a stable financial record who has been around for a while who can provide references of installed locations and go out and see a couple of those completed jobs
Check on warranty details and know what is covered
Obtain a track record from company supplying turf
Ask to see if the company is the installer or do they subcontract to another installer, if so ask for a track record of that installer; sometimes there will be multiple installers the company will work with, so ask
What you should do before deciding which turf product and company to go with:
Evaluate the use of the landscape area or field (hours of use, how much traffic, single or multi-purpose use)
If for a ball field, form a selection committee
Contact local schools or local stadiums and ask questions
Form a due diligence team
These are just some suggestions. For further information on how to decide on products, maintenance and installation, and what specifications are please contact Artificial Grass Inc, or go to the Synthetic Turf Council website at www.syntheticturfcouncil.com. We thank you for taking the time to look at this turf tutorial section and we hope we have helped in playing a role in your decision making process.
Glossary of a few key components in the manufacturing process:
Pile Fiber Yarn - the synthetic grass is made of either the polyamide nylon/nylon 6.6 or polypropylene/polyethylene, which is then custom made into a monofilament ribbon form. The pile fiber has to allow for smooth ball roll and bounce, support non-directional foot traction, allow for water permeability, and have the correct balance of strength, elasticity and stiffness to withstand the wear and tear of regular usage.
Backing Fabric - the material to which yarn surface fiber are attached to form the underside of the artificial turf surface. The backing is typically fabricated from polyester tire yarns.
Tufting Process - Using flat-bed tufting machines like the one shown at the top of this page, the yarn fibers are knitted directly into the backing as it is being fabricated, to form a mechanically strong and stable structure. The knitting machines are between 4.5 m to 5 m wide, to minimize the number of seams required in an installation and offer greater surface uniformity in each installation.
The sewing threads are high-strength, weather resistant and pigmented to exactly match the color of the turf. For Athletic Fields permanent lines in many colors are knitted in during the manufacturing process to minimize installation costs and maintenance. These different colors are only knitted in straight lines going lengthways and not crossways. In most cases the backing is designed to permit water to flow through the fabric readily.
Foam and Urethane Backing - Foam provides cushioning for running or falling athletes in Athletic Field Applications. The foam is made of a closed-cell polymer alloy like polyurethane, typically 1/2" to 3/4" in height and perforated for vertical drainage. Urethane backing is used in many golf applications and athletic field applications. This process helps to prevent the yarn fibers from pulling out of the backing fabric.
Ultra-Violet Stabilization - all polymeric materials are subject to damage when exposed to the ultra-violet radiation present in sunlight. This problem gets more acute in areas with high humidity. Hence the yarn fiber has to be protected by the inclusion of appropriate organic stabilizers or UV inhibitors. Similarly, coloring pigments have to be selected for their ultra-violet resistant properties, for best retention of their original colors when exposed to sunlight.
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