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This is the time of year when desert homeowners with grass lawns start worrying about getting rid of the Bermuda and trying to get the ryegrass to grow for Arizona’s cool season. They’re also spending a lot of their spare time mowing, irrigating and using lots of chemicals to fight the weeds and bugs.

Maybe like some of those homeowners, you’re wondering if artificial turf could be the answer for your yard instead.

So, here are eight things you’d probably like to know about artificial grass and how it can perform in your yard.

1 | How artificial grass got its start:

Artificial grass gained wide attention when the Houston Astros installed AstroTurf in their first baseball stadium in 1966. Early versions felt short and scratchy to the touch, but new brands and improvements have greatly changed the product over the past 50 years.

2 | Why homeowners install artificial grass:

According to Jenni Gabbard, Marketing Director for Sunburst Landscaping of the Phoenix area, homeowners often install EasyTurf, sold by Sunburst, to provide space for pets and children to play and run outdoors. It’s sometimes used for backyard putting greens, but Gabbard says that use is becoming less common. “Turf also saves on water,” she says, “and snowbirds often want artificial grass to remind them of the grass back home.”

3 | You may need HOA approval:

If you want to install artificial turf, be sure that it is “legal” in the neighborhood where you live. Some homeowner associations insist on desert plants or real grass only.

4 | How turf is installed:

Most homeowners decide to use about 150-200 square feet or so of their lot for turf. During construction, a plot for turf must have three or four inches of soil scraped off and removed to provide for good drainage. Then in that area, decomposed granite is crunched and compressed into the soil. At some point, weed barriers are put down. Then the turf, with a permeable backing, is rolled out and three pounds per square foot of sand is put on top of the “grass” and sifted down. Most jobs can be done in a day’s time. Workers can do 1,000 square feet a day of turf.

You could conceivably buy turf and the necessary components yourself, but you’d have to rent expensive equipment for the job. It’s not an easy do-it-yourself project.

5 | Improvements in artificial turf:

There are now different grades for artificial turf for commercial, sports and home use. The turf can look like the real thing. For example, the blades in a plot of turf have varying lengths just as real grass does. A new idea: Pavers can be interwoven in artistic patterns with artificial turf.

There are 23 NFL stadiums that use EasyTurf, in fact. So does the Arizona Cardinal practice field, although the team uses real grass for its actual games.

6 | How to maintain a turf grass lawn:

You can’t put sprinklers on top of an artificial turf lawn, but you could install sprinklers along the sides of a plot. The best way to clean turf is by hosing it off thoroughly once a month. With pets, you might want to do that more often. Water drains more quickly off artificial turf than it does with real grass. It’s porous and shouldn’t mildew.

7 | Turf is not as cool as real grass:

It’s made of plastic after all, and when intense sun shines on it, it can get hot. But water will cool it off. You should not use artificial turf around fire tables or fire pits. You don’t want to put a glass table over it, because the glass can magnify the heat of the sun shining overhead and damage the turf under the table.

8 | What kind of turf to buy:

It generally costs from $6 to $10 per square foot, depending on the grade. That may be more than grass sod, but once the turf is in, it can last for 15-20 years. EasyTurf is made out of a blend of polyethylene and polypropylene.

If you’re intrigued by artificial turf in your own yard, maybe it’s time to investigate further. After all, you don’t have to mow it or fertilize it or sprinkle more seed on it or worry about it getting too dry or too wet. It can add a touch of green to your yard that will last a long time.


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