Tending to a stretch of grass that you own is a whole different inauguration into adulthood. You probably grew up hearing that the “grass is greener on the other side” and didn’t think much of it until you bought your own property and looked over at the Joneses. Their perfectly groomed yard, velveted in a coat of fresh, brilliant grass, produced your very first pang of lawn envy.
This site is going to be your best adult friend, advising you on the basics of lawn maintenance, with an emphasis on artificial grass. That’s right! The Joneses are definitely using artificial grass for that perpetual lawn perfection- not to mention that they are also environmentally-friendly and efficiency-minded.
Here, you’ll also find informative and reliable reviews that will help you choose the grass that most suits your space, budget, and personal needs (playing children, active dogs, etc.). We also assign each brand of artificial grass a performance rating based on factors such as the aesthetic quality of the grass, its texture, heat-resistance, draining capacity, and value.
What Exactly is Artificial Grass?
In simple terms, artificial grass is a layer of synthetic fibers designed to imitate the aesthetic look and practical function of real grass.
Artificial grass became famous (and gained its name, “Astroturf”) in the early 1960s when it was used to floor the Astrodome. While historically, artificial grass has carpeted many a soccer, baseball, and American football field, today’s realistic design and environmental implications make it more and more commonplace on residential lawns.
While many people are choosing to replace their lawns with artificial turf regardless of the area’s fertility, certain people are turning to artificial grass due to more serious issues like drought.
Let’s take a deeper look at what you’re putting on your lawn.
The History of Artificial Grass
Today’s artificial grass is nothing like the clearly plastic-looking green carpet that debuted upon the grand opening of the Astrodome. Perhaps it was just as well that synthetic grass remained safely away from residential lawns until innovative improvements made it a feature worth admiring alongside that white picket fence.
The newest synthetic turf not only looks unbelievably realistic, but it is also water-resistant, heat-resistant, environmentally friendly and functionally similar to the real thing. Not to mention that it takes maintenance labor out of the picture and the cost significantly down.
The process of making artificial grass, or “tufting”, came about a decade before Astroturf became a household name. The term “turf” is used in reference to artificial grass because of this process which basically involves punching synthetic filaments into a fabric backing and then setting it with a flexible adhesive substance. While the basic process is still used in the initial stages of tufting, improvements have been made over the decades to create better looking and better performing artificial turf.
In 1964, a couple of years before the famous Astrodome revelation, artificial grass was installed on the playground at a primary school in Providence, Rhode Island.
What’s In Artificial Grass?
Artificial grass is made with an assortment of raw materials, but exact combinations are completely dependent on a company’s particular brand.
To make the backing material, companies use jute, a rough fiber made from two Old World plants, plastic, polyester, which is a synthetic resin, and higher quality brands use polyester tire cord. Keep in mind that this last backing material, polyester tire cord, is known for its heat retention and “quality” in this case refers to the material’s durability- needless to say, this is the main type of backing used in synthetic turf for athletic applications.
The material that makes up the “grass” part of aesthetic turf is usually made from nylon, polypropylene, or polyethylene. These have different levels of absorption, so brands can be made with different combinations to suit different needs (for example, pet use).
Synthetic grass is made with a cushioning system to tie everything together. The substance used for this layer are usually made from polyester foam or rubber compounds- again, it depends on what the application.
The Manufacturing Process
Each company makes their brand unique through tiny tweaks in their manufacturing process. The following description is a general explanation of how artificial grass is made so that you can have a better idea of what it is.
A Big Batch of Turf Taffy
The very first step in making artificial grass is blending up a batch of ingredients; chemicals for heat resistance and a whole variety of brand features, dye for that “green grass” look, etc.
This mix is then fed into a huge mixer that beats the concoction into green taffy- liquid grass, so to speak.
Making the Material
The thick synthetic mix from the previous step is then fed into an extruder, which produces a workable strand of dry material. This material is then layered and placed on a carding machine which vibrates it into a loose rope.
The rope made in the previous step is pulled, twisted, straightened, woven into a yarn and then set with heat. The yarn spools produced in this process will then be used for the weaving process.
Tufting machines can produce sheets of artificial turf measuring 15 by 3 feet per minute. These machines are set with the yarn produced in the previous steps and then woven into a carpet of artificial grass by thousands of needles.
After the artificial turf has been woven into sheets, both its underside and secondary backing are coated with a protective latex coating. Afterward, both sections are sealed together, making complete, and compact thatch of artificial grass.
Finally, the finished turf is placed under an row of heat lamps to cure the fresh latex and then fed through a clipping machine that adjusts the length of the turf to a standardized length. Once this step is complete, the sheets of artificial grass are then rolled up, packaged, and distributed to wholesalers.
Is Artificial Grass Plastic?
What artificial grass definitely is not, is real grass. This means that pathogens and organic matter will not be broken down by a natural process as it would with natural grass and that freshly mown lawn smell will be a thing of the past.
While the idea of having a plastic lawn can draw up nightmares of the squeaky, iridescent kind, plastic does not necessarily equate bad. Even despite the fact that you will not have real grass with real organic functions, artificial grass isn’t necessarily deserving of your “plastic” associations. Today’s artificial grass looks, feels, and functions much like the real thing.
There are definitely some health concerns when it comes to the synthetic nature of artificial turf and this should account for a portion of your research. You’ll find in most instances that developments in synthetic grass make it safe not only for the environment, but also for close human interaction.