Synthetic Turf: The Low Down

Sep 30, 2015


What is synthetic turf?

The latest generation of synthetic turf is a grass-like ground cover that replicates lush natural grass in appearance and function. it provides a consistent year-round, all-weather surface built to withstand extended use without downtime for recovery. As a landscape cover, synthetic turf provides a low maintenance, weed-free surface that doesn't need to be watered or fertilized, and is available in styles that look like the grass types that are prevalent locally.

How is Synthetic Turf Made?

Most synthetic turf systems installed today include a drainage layer, a multi-layered backing system, and resilient "grass" blades that are infilled with a granular filler to resemble natural turf. "Infilled" means that the man-made grass blades are interspersed with a top soil created with sand and/or granulated recycled tire rubber or other infill materials that provide the necessary stability, uniformity, and resiliency. Each blade customarily stands above the infill material. The typical blade length and system characteristics are determined by the specific activity requirements. In some applications, the synthetic turf system includes a pad or elastic layer underneath the turf, often in combination with lower pile height and less infill.

Are There Any Associated Health Risks?

Some opponents have argued that since certain types of infill is made up of upcycled tires, which we know can release chemicals known to cause cancer, then logistically, these little pearls of rubber could do the same as they deteriorated. Supporters of turf fought back with studies showing no inherent danger being posed by the use of artificial grass in fact- The Synthetic Turf Council said in a statement issued on 13 December 2007 that :

“Claims of toxicity [in the EHHI report] are based on extreme laboratory testing such as the use of solvents and high temperatures to generate pollutants.”

• Additionally:
In October 2010, the California Office of Environmental Assessment completed its multi-year study of air quality above crumb rubber infilled synthetic turf, and bacteria in the turf, and reported that there were no public health concerns.
• In July 2010, the Connecticut Department of Public Health announced that a new study of the risks to children and adults playing on synthetic turf fields containing crumb rubber infill shows "no elevated health risks.”
• A December 2009 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scoping study of the health risks from inhalation, ingestion, and dermal contact with synthetic turf and crumb rubber found every test result to be "below levels of concern.”

If you're still concerned, then it is possible to use natural sand as an infill- it can be damaging to the turf, but you needn't worry about potential health risks.

What are the Available  Style Options?

Most people would be very surprised at how real artificial turf can look and feel. There is a style of turf that mimics almost any natural variety of grass. You can choose different colors, pile heights, thicknesses, and even imperfections. Here are just a few examples.

How much does it cost?

Artificial grass comes with a big upfront cost — $5 to $20 per square foot, installed. Once it's down, it's free for the next 15 to 25 years. Professionally laid sod, on the other hand, costs only 14 to 60 cents per square foot

Are There Any Current Governemnt Tax Breaks or Incentives?

For Southern California, the Metropolitan Water Council has the Save Water, Save a Buck program. Due to the success of this program, as well as mandatory conservation in certain areas, reservations are needed in order to participate, meaning once your turf is installed, in order to be eligible for a rebate, you need to submit an application. For a list of requirements, you can view the save a buck programs website here:;

For the Greater Los Angeles Area, the Waterworks District is issuing rebates per square foot of artificial turf. This comes to 30 cents per square foot, or $150 for 500 square feet of synthetic grass installed. Santa Clara County programs can give out up to $1000, or $75 per every 100 square feet of artificial turf in household areas. Up to $10,000 in rebates can be granted to commercial or businesses that convert to synthetic waterless grass. The North Marin County Water District gives cash rebates of $50 per every 100 square feet, or $400 per household that installs synthetic turf. Even condominiums and apartments in this country can get a rebate of up to $100 for switching.

How do I Maintain the Lawn?

Synthetic Turf can last for 20+ years with extremely low maintenance costs. A simple cleanup of your turf every 15-30 days will go a long way in prolonging the life span of your turf. This clean up can be done by a recommended servicer at very low cost.

Here are the most common Issues and How to Protect Your Synthetic Turf:

1. Weeds Growing Through or Underneath Turf - Using a weed barrier will block most of the weeds from growing through, but let's not forget, wind and birds can drop seeds in the area which may sprout if they are not cleaned up periodically.

2. Excessive Use of the Lawn - Since the turf is attached to the ground with glue and nails, you may, from time to time, need to push the nails back down or to re-glue some of the corners. By doing this, you will prevent further damage to the turf. It is also imprortant to use a push broom and sweep your turf in the opposite direction it is laying; doing this monthly will greatly improve your turf's appearance as well as the life expectancy. If any part of the turf is burned or damage by chemicals then you can easily replace that piece with a new one. Large turf areas should be broomed with a power broom 2-3 times a year.

3. Food, Beverages, and Pet or Bird Waste - Any time you spill a beverage or your dog or the birds do their business, it will stick to the turf until you wash it. You should also use a special infill if you have pets that regularly go on your turf. Add infill as needed.

4. Weather (Rain, Wind) - The rain and the wind will move the infill or blow some of it away. A shag carpet rake or stiff broom can help you move the infill back into place. Every year you will need to add more infill.

So basically- keep it clean, spot treat issues, and your turf can last you years and years.

 The climate of landscaping is changing rapidly, and turf is allowing California residents to keep their iconing green lawns, save some money on upkeep and also conserve water at a time in which our great state truly needs the help. Turf has come a long way from the tacky, uniform green of the statiums  Look in to your options, and give us a call today so we can help you plan out the perfect turf law