Today’s post is focused on Synthetic Turf

Synthetic Turf

Contours Landscapes Synthetic Turf department was established when our team of award winning landscape designer received regular enquires for artificial turf.

Contours Landscapes saw this as an opportunity to offer our clients the option of an eco-friendly solution in lawn application that would enable people to have perfectly green lawns all year round without the need for constant maintenance and regular water applications. The synthetic lawn market offers exactly that, along with many other positive benefits, such as being pet -friendly, and offering a versatile surface for those shaded spots in the garden where conventional lawns would not grow.

With our artistic landscape design experience we are able to incorporate synthetic lawns into the landscape installation.  Perhaps the advantage Contours Landscapes has over companies who specialise solely in the installation of synthetic turf, is that we use our design expertise to ensure that the installation takes into account the principles of design and so compliments the rest of the landscape.

Why artificial lawn?

With the extreme weather patterns that we are currently and are likely to  experience in the future, and which are predicted to persist (driven largely by the effects of global warming) one can expect ones landscape to be dry and barren during the dry periods and wet and muddy during periods of excessive rain.  These extreme weather fluctuations are not conducive to healthy natural lawns (or landscapes).

Synthetic lawn eliminates the negative consequences of adverse weather conditions on one’s lawn.   Synthetic turf does not need to be irrigated which will substantially reduce water consumption and hence costs. By choosing this alternative to natural lawn you will also reduce the amount of pesticides/herbicides that have a detrimental effect on the environment.

When artificial lawn?

Budget – Due to the capital cost (the initial expense of installing the product) you will need to have a bigger budget than if you were to install natural turf. But as shown later in this article, in the long term, it is in fact more cost effective to install synthetic turf than it would be to install natural turf.

Traffic – If you have an area with hi foot traffic for instance a balcony or a narrow pathway, synthetic turf will not die back like natural turf.

Shade – Shade and natural turf do not go together.  Shady areas seldom look good under natural turf…especially when it is combined with high traffic and or limited irrigation application.

High traffic – Be it pedestrian or vehicular traffic, natural turf does not thrive under constant traffic.

Unsuitable underlying soil – If you have an area with an underlying hard surface such as concrete, or an area where the underlying soil has a high clay content, or very sandy soils with little nutrient value, synthetic turf would be far more effective than natural turf.

What option do you have?

Let us speak frankly.  NOTHING beats the look, feel and smell of natural grass.  A well maintained natural lawn is irreplaceable.  But it comes at a massive cost to the budget and environment.

In certain circumstances and applications artificial grass (also often referred to as Astroturf, Fake Grass, Synthetic Grass and Plastic grass) does have certain  benefits over natural turf.

With recent technological advances in the synthetic turf manufacture process, artificial turf now looks incredibly realistic (but not quite 100% yet!) and can stand in as a natural turf replacement.

Artificial grass has been around for many years and is becoming increasingly more popular.   Whilst past ‘generations’ of synthetic turf may have looked cheap, felt nasty and not stood the test of time, the cutting edge brands have overcome these obstacles.

The price of the turf varies depending on the quality and density of the yarn and length of the pile and the quality and thickness of the backing material.

Pile – The length of the ‘blades’ of grass.

Yarn – The material from which the grass “blade” is made. Some yarns are course and spikey and hard to the touch.  Others are softer and more comfortable to the touch.

Yarn density – The more “blades of grass” per square inch.  The greater the number of blades per square inch, the more expensive the turf.

Backing material – There are many types of packing material and thicknesses.  The backing material is the rubber or plastic what binds the yarn and ensures a vertical pile.

Subbase– This is the imported “soil” that is placed and compacted under the synthetic turf.  There are different types of subbase.  We have found that works best is crusher dust.  It tends to be more expensive than certain subbases but it is worth the additional cost.

Whether you are looking for a low maintenance beautiful garden or to make your patio, terrace or balcony more appealing to the eye, synthetic turf is worth consideration.

Advantages of synthetic turf

  • Water wise! No watering required.
  • No mowing or weeding. You will save a bomb on maintenance costs!
  • No need to fertilise/ top dress or add compost.
  • Year-Round green.
  • Perfectly manicured all year round.
  • Pet friendly! Dog pee, due to its acidity often results in yellow patches on natural turf.  Not so on synthetic turf. On synthetic turf,  dog pee can simply be sprayed with water to dissolve it.  The synthetic turf has drainage holes in it to allow drainage should a dog pee on your lawn.  If a dog Poo’s on the lawn, simply scoop it up as you would with natural turf, and spray any residue with water.

Disadvantages of synthetic turf.

  • Price – The initial installation costs are high, but we estimate that one will have offset the initial capital expenditure (through reduced maintenance/fertilising/mowing/watering cost offset. The savings you make on maintenance will cover the installation costs you would have incurred over 3.5- 4 years.    Depending on the brand and type of lawn chosen you can expect to pay anywhere from R600/m²  –R680/m² for 50m² or less or   R580/m² – R600/m² for an area of 50m² to 500m²   You may pay even less if it is a very large area.  This would include the base course preparation and earthworks.  The larger the area, the more impact ‘economies of scale’ will have in reducing the installation price.

Factors that will affect the price:

  • The type of lawn chosen. One can purchase cheap lawn from chine, but do not expect it to have much UV resistance.  Ask your supplier for how long the lawn is guaranteed.   The thicker the ‘pile’ the more expensive the lawn.  One can expect to pay R300/m² – R400//m² for the lawn only, excluding installation.
  • The area of lawn required. Scales of economy might result in the more lawn required, the more competitive the price.
  • The shape of the lawn. If the lawn has many curves and cut outs, there tends to be a higher percentage of wastage.  The more wastage the higher the cost.
  • Site constraints / Soil type will affect the cost. Clayey soils tend to be more expensive than sandy soil installations.
  • The installations take longer than laying natural turf as the lawn requires base layer preparation and other tasks that are not required when laying natural turf. Also note that the application of a base layer could be noisy (a compactor is used) and disruptive.
  • On a hot day natural lawn tends to be cool to the touch. We take it for granted! Synthetic turf is warm, sometimes hot, to the touch on a summer’s day.
  • No lawn is a 100% replica to natural turf. But some are very close to ‘the real thing’
  • Synthetic turf does have a greater carbon footprint initially. Through the elimination of mowing and watering the carbon footprint is reduced. (Reduced maintenance offsets the carbon footprint created in the importation and manufacturing process)
  • You will not need to mow the lawn. Ever! (sadly you also won’t experience that freshly mowed lawn smell) But you will need to sweep or vacuum leaves from the lawn when required.
  • One is able to purchase ‘cheap-and-nasty’ synthetic turf. Such turf is not UV stable and does not last long, even if it looks good on the showroom floor.   Good quality turf will last in excess of 15 years!  Be sure to know what you are buying as we have witnessed horror outcomes!

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