Artificial turf, sometimes called synthetic grass, has been available for decades for athletic purposes, but it is even showing up in residential lawns as well, in arid climates. One reason is that manufacturers have created turf that looks more and more "real." Instead of looking like green felt or bristly, shiny green carpeting, now the best grades of artificial turf can add both function and aesthetic appeal to an outdoor space.
Lower maintenance cost
The two major benefits of using artificial turf versus natural grass are lower maintenance cost and time savings. In warm climates, maintaining natural grass year-round can require lots of water. At a time when water conservation is becoming more important, using artificial turf is an environmentally sound alternative. Other costs of a natural lawn include overseeding with rye grass in winter, fertilizing, irrigation pipes and a timer and sprinklers.
Having a beautiful natural lawn also requires an investment of time. Mowing, fertilizing, weeding, installing and maintaining the irrigation system for the lawn are all time-consuming aspects of having a natural lawn that are completely eliminated through installing artificial turf.
Synthetic turf looks nice year-round, no matter the season or temperature. It doesn't dry out and turn brown in the summer or go dormant in the winter.
Pets can be hard on lawns. Running through the grass can cause damage, as can digging, and of course ugly brown spots can appear on a lawn where dogs choose to urinate. Manufacturers of artificial turf now have products that resist staining. And dogs can run to their heart's content without damaging the surface whatsoever.
Many homeowners use artificial turf for a small accent area in the front or back yard, bringing in the vibrant color green to liven up what might be a dull earth-toned area. Artificial turf can be installed anywhere in the yard or to any shape, such as in a curved area or a narrow strip, where it would be difficult to run a lawn mower. You can run artificial turf right up next to a wall or fence, and you won't have to use a grass trimmer to get at these hard-to-reach areas.
The Golfer's Dream
Every golfer dreams of having a backyard putting green, or better yet several greens so he can have a pitch-and-putt course setup. Having a golf-course quality lawn with natural turf requires careful design, advanced knowledge of turfgrass care and even a specialized mower. Many golfers end up being frustrated with the result, a patchy, bumpy surface that is no fun to use for putting practice. Landscapers skilled in artificial turf can create a putting green that does a pretty good job of simulating an actual putting green, including subtle undulations or "breaks" that you encounter on a real golf course green.
The two major drawbacks of artificial turf are appearance and installation cost. Even with the advancements in artificial turf technology, up close the surface does not have quite the same visual appeal as real grass. For one thing, it has a sameness about it; artificial turf, because it has no imperfections, simply doesn't look exactly like real turf. Installing artificial turf comes with a heavy upfront price tag as well, particularly if you have a large surface or multiple surfaces to landscape. Over time, however, the costs savings in water and maintenance---and the value of your time---compensate for the upfront investment.
- Sustainable Landscaping for Dummies; Owen E. Dell; 2009
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