Best Artificial Turf Options
Are you tired of the amount of maintenance it takes to keep up on your lawn and yard work? Do you want a beautiful yard but live where the climate prevents real grass from growing healthily? Artificial turf offers solutions for these issues along with numerous important benefits.
Some people enjoy yard work and especially mowing grass. Other people prefer to enjoy the aesthetics of a beautiful lawn without having to spend frequent and repeated time to maintain it. Installing artificial turf is not necessarily an instant DIY project for those with no experience or knowledge about the process and product. The internet is of course a valuable resource but artificial turf installation is also a literal hands-on endeavor. Hiring a professional installer also takes current knowledge of product types, prices and costs of installation.
The decision to install artificial turf, or artificial grass, is increasing between ten and fifteen percent each year among U.S. homeowners. Before making the decision for yourself it is important to understand the basics of artificial turf along with its types, benefits and options for installation. Read on for more detailed information about artificial turf options for your lawn today.
Understanding the Basics of Artificial Turf
The first use of artificial turf occurred in 1964 at the Moses Brown School in Providence, Rhode Island as a way to help inner city children improve their physical fitness. Two years later the Houston Astros were using it in the Astrodome. What started with the name Chemgrass, largely in part to Chemstrand’s involvement in its development, was renamed Astroturf once used in MLB games.
Artificial turf is comprised of filaments, which are threaded into a water-porous backing. The backing sits on a drainage layer and is connected fast along the edges. It is then filled with sand and/or recycled crumb rubber to keep it secure during higher winds and other adverse weather conditions.
Modern artificial turf is made from polypropylene, polyethylene or nylon materials. These materials are shaded and colored to match those of natural grass species. There are even some turf products made with a thatch layer to further improve their realism and longevity.
There is specific terminology associated with artificial turf. Some terminologies, such as glue, grass, backing and synthetic are common concepts for even people with no artificial turf experience. Other concepts might require a bit more explanation. Face weight is the density of the blades in the turf. Luster refers to how much the turf shines. Pile height refers to the length of the blades, while thatch is yarn placed below the turf blades giving the turf a more natural appearance. Additional terminology associated with artificial turf includes:
Benefits of Artificial Grass vs. Real Grass
There are many benefits of artificial grass over real grass beyond the strain it saves on your back. The appearance of artificial turf remains constant, albeit without constant upkeep. This means prolonged enjoyment of your yard with less effort required to do so. Artificial turf also saves you time. Because no time needs to be spent mowing, watering, weeding or trimming your grass, more time can be spent enjoying your yard and other elements of your life.
There are also environmental benefits to having artificial turf instead of real grass. No pesticides, weed killers or fertilizers are needed on artificial turf. This is good for your immediate environment and the environment in general. It also allows you to feel comfortable having your children or grandchildren roam your yard without fear of ingesting chemicals or dealing with bee stings or other insect issues typical of real grass. Your pets are also able to enjoy the same chemical-free experience as you and your family.
While artificial turf does cost money to purchase and install, it also saves money over the long term in several ways. Lawnmowers and the gas/electric required to operate them are eliminated when using artificial turf. Seeding, fertilizer and other lawn-related chemical expense are also eliminated. The property value of your home increases due to the stunning appearance of your yard and reduced effort required for maintaining it. Finally, people suffering from allergies experience a reprieve, as pollen and grass are no longer the same threats once artificial turf is installed.
Types of Artificial Grass
There are different types of artificial grass made for different purposes. These purposes range from use in your back yard to public playgrounds. Artificial grass is used in pet parks as well as national sports stadiums. Nylon grass is the strongest on the market, followed by polyethylene then polypropylene. Nylon is great for multiple purposes but is also the most expensive type.
Polyethylene is the type of artificial grass most commonly used by homeowners in their yards. This is because polypropylene is a weaker material prone to becoming more quickly damaged, and nylon is generally too expensive to be justified for private use. Nylon is frequently used as a secondary thatch, however, which increases the stability of the other artificial grass types. It helps hold the grass together and keep it strong without the extra expense of a fully nylon artificial grass lawn.
Pile heights are short, medium and long in length. Colors are frequently green and many green hues exist to match the tones of natural looking grass. Brighter colors are sold, however, for specialty use. Some artificial grass products are UV-Stabilized. Some also have urethane backings, non-absorbent fiber, heat/frost-resistance and non-flammable materials.
Average Cost of Artificial Turf Installation
Installing artificial turf as a DIY project is labor intensive. It is certainly possible, and doing so saves an average of $5-$8 per square foot in labor costs. It also takes one to three days of work. Problems arise when the soil in your yard is tough, however. There is also the risk of making mistakes capable of ruining the turf due to having no previous installation experience.
Professional installation companies charge an average of $8-$12 for each square foot, including materials. A 1,200-foot installation area costs an average of $10,800 and up. Maintaining a lawn full of artificial grass costs less than $200 per year, however. Installation companies also offer financing options to help mitigate the cost of installing artificial grass in your lawn. Many companies offer zero percent down payments and five through twenty years installment plans. Many also offer a limited same-as-cash period. APRs on artificial grass financing are generally low as well.
The Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO) program offers financing for eco-friendly home improvement projects. Installing artificial turf/grass is a project type considered by the program. Eligibility for a HERO loan is not dependent on having good credit. Payments are not made in monthly installments but rather when paying your property taxes. For more information on HERO loans and financing, go here.