The Benefits of Synthetic Turf

Synthetic turf has been around for many years. When first used, there were a few disadvantages with the product. As a surface for sporting events, it was found to be hard on the limbs and feet of players. Falls, especially sliding falls, could result in quite uncomfortable burns to the skin.

However there have been vast improvements over the last few decades resulting in an adaptable and versatile product. Synthetic turf is now suitable for a range of commercial and domestic situations.

Olympic Hockey Stadium, SydneyCredit: Wikimedia

Sporting facilities, public areas, schools, play grounds, retirement villages, commercial properties, airports, nursing homes and median strips are some of the commercial uses of artificial turf. Each sporting discipline has its preferred type as there are now so many different types available.

Domestic applications include front and back lawns, rooftop terraces, shaded areas, courtyards, and swimming pool surrounds. You can have your own putting green in the back yard with the minimum of effort. Once it is installed, there is no watering, fertilising or mowing or clipping the edges.

These all become a thing of the past with artificial grass. There is no fertiliser or sand to buy or spread, no grass clippings to get rid of, no allergies, and no fines for running your sprinklers on the wrong day. The product stays green and is low maintenance, freeing up valuable time and labour for other purposes such as lying in a hammock.

Artificial TurfCredit: Wikimedia

Increased use of fibres such as polyethylene and polypropylene has resulted in an aesthetically pleasing product which withstands significant wear and tear. It is an ideal solution in arid areas where the difficulties or cost of watering large expanses of lawn is prohibitive. It is also ideal in heavily shaded areas where it is difficult to get lawn established. Synthetic surfaces were once harder on players' limbs and joints than grass and there were increased risks of burns and abrasions. The increased use of polyethylene yarn is reducing these hazards.

Some of the disadvantages include the necessity to use an infill which may be partially made of materials which contain heavy metals. These may eventually leach into the soil and hence the water table. In its early days, artificial turf absorbed the heat from the sun and became very hot to play on. A new innovation has reflective fibres incorporated into the turf. These dissipate the heat. Early type turf could be easily lifted and changed but this is now less easy. Infilling with rubber and/or sand means easy removal is no longer possible. The turf length and texture may now be a compromise in sporting facilities that are used for multiple disciplines.

The prohibitive cost of maintaining indoor stadiums with grass has been a major factor in the increasing use of synthetic turf. Less maintenance means lower ongoing costs. There is a great saving in water consumption. Greater use of facilities is possible thus making it possible to generate more income.

Airports are becoming aware of the significant advantages of synthetic turf. Emergency vehicles are more stable if they need to leave the hard standing as are aircraft which might slew off the runway. The visual contrast remains constant from season to season and areas stay relatively dry. With no feed, water or shelter on airfields, wildlife are discouraged and are less likely to become a hazard.

Basic Steps For Laying Synthetic Turf in a Domestic Setting

These instructions will vary somewhat depending on the product you are using.

  1. Remove the existing lawn or surface to a depth of 60mm. If the turf will be used for parking vehicles, remove 80 to 100 mm. Using a bobcat or dingo for large areas will make life a lot easier. Rake the surface to get it somewhere near level. Don't forget to cap off any sprinklers.
  2. Fill the base with road base (crushed rock). Use a sand spreader and once it is reasonably level, wet and compact the area until you have a hard base.
  3. Screed the area to ensure it is perfectly level and compact again. A level surface is imperative for a good-looking artificial turf.
  4. Some fake turf has a grain and it is important to run all pieces the same way. Take care with joining as this can make or break the look of a new lawn.
  5. Lastly the infill is swept in using a power broom or stiff outdoor broom. A blower is useful to blow in all the sand .

Whereas synthetic turf was once very artificial looking and fooled no-one, it now appears very natural with a variety of 'greens' available. The colour varies within a range so that the effect is much more natural and real. There are several different lengths of turf available and the choice is surprisingly large. Whatever synthetic turf you choose, you'll enjoy not having to mow and water.