Synthetic grass is known for its minimum maintenance requirements, but that doesn’t mean you can relax in your Lazy Boy just yet. Maintaining your lawn long-term requires some care and an occasional boost.
To keep your artificial grass looking its best, however, and to prevent it from staining or smelling due to your pets’ restroom stops, here are some tips and guidelines to follow.
While environmental concern is one of the main reasons families are installing artificial lawns, it helps that synthetic grass looks gorgeous year-round.
The material that makes up synthetic grass blades is not natural however, so it does not stay permanently perky and if it receives a lot of use, it tends to lay flat against the ground. This can be fixed by brushing your lawn about once a week, to straighten the blades.
The great thing about your synthetic turf is that it won’t yellow, dry, or lose its fullness. Natural grass is so difficult to keep in a seamless condition because it is affected by various different natural factors (poor water quality, dog urine, digging, etc.). A high quality artificial grass does not fade in color and while it can retain odor from pet urine (we’ll cover this later), it won’t yellow or dry out as a result.
Synthetic grass does stain because it’s basically a carpet. That being said, simply wiping down the spot immediately after an accident will restore the original color.
An artificial lawn might look similar to natural grass, but it’s made from synthetic materials that can be damaged by fire and harsh chemicals, and the damage is permanent. If you have a barbecue area in your yard, don’t install artificial grass nearby where a stray hot coal might fall on it. You should also avoid using detergents that contain strong acids or alcohol to clean up any spills or stains on your grass. Diluted bleach or vinegar solutions work best, and they shouldn’t affect the grass blades.
How to prevent deterioration
Artificial grass is made from a synthetic material so it can become damaged if cleaned with harsh acids or alcohols. Since it’s basically plastic, it can also be damaged by fire; and since it is installed in a set position, it can become deformed if weeds are allowed to grow under the surface.
When cleaning your artificial lawn, use cleaning agents that are biodegradable. Detergents with a strong alcohol or acid base can cause the blades and even the mat to break down over time. You can also use diluted solutions (bleach and vinegar) as a very effective (and gentle) cleaning agent.
While synthetic grass is designed for durability, it is essential to keep weeds from growing under the surface of your lawn. Weeds can distort the foundation of your artificial lawn and cause displacement.
Protecting turf from pets – Dirt and Smells
Artificial grass is fairly durable, even it it’s going to be used by an active dog. That being said, while some rough-housing won’t cause much trouble, dog urine can become a real issue if you leave it unattended.
In terms of integrity, urine cannot damage artificial grass, but since synthetic turf functions much like your indoor carpet, it does absorb smells and a stinky lawn doesn’t sit well with anyone.
Though a heavy downpour washes away the dirt and pet urine that can affect the appearance and smell of your artificial lawn, you probably won’t want to wait for a rain shower before tackling dirty, stinky patches. Use an artificial turf spray to clean the grass regularly. Your turf supplier probably sells them. Dog urine is an accumulative odor so you’ll have to keep an eye on your pets and make sure to “mark the spot”. Sprinkling the area with baking soda and then following up with a diluted solution of water and vinegar is a very effective method of keeping your lawn odor-free.
Artificial turf sprays are mild detergents that wash the grass without harming it, destroying bacteria and neutralizing pet odors. Most sprays are designed to be attached to garden hoses, which makes them very easy to apply.
Spray your lawn every other month or as often as you like to keep it in tiptop shape and to prevent smells from building up. Alternatively, for a quick fix when your cat or dog has a bathroom break on the grass, mark the spot and sprinkle it with baking soda as soon as you can. After a few minutes, spray the area with vinegar diluted in water.
Regular use of your artificial lawn by your pets or family can flatten down the grass blades. If your lawn begins to look flat and drab, brush against the direction of the sloping blades with a stiff-bristled broom until the grass is perky again.
Artificial grass doesn’t have the same problems with thatch and moss as a natural lawn, but dead plant material from the rest of your yard can build up among the synthetic leaves over time. You might also find that the odd cigarette butt or other pieces of trash occasionally blow onto the grass from the street. Debris on your lawn doesn’t only look unsightly, it can cause damage. Thick or thorny twigs can poke through the mesh or webbing at the base of the grass.
To remove debris from synthetic turf, rake it with a plastic-tined lawn rake or go over the lawn with a leaf blower or vacuum. For large artificial lawns, you can use a leaf and grass clippings catcher attached to a lawn tractor.
A mat or grass impregnated with herbicide prevent weeds from growing through many artificial lawns, but the effect doesn’t last forever. Weed seeds exist for years in topsoil, and though you may have weeded thoroughly before laying synthetic turf, the risk of weeds spoiling the clean green effect never goes away.
A weed-killing mat under an artificial lawn should be replaced every three to five years, but it’s easily done. Simply lift up the turf and replace the mat with a fresh one.
Some synthetic lawns are impregnated with herbicides. Your artificial turf supplier can tell you if your grass has been treated, and how long the effect should last. When the original herbicide is no longer effective, you can prevent weeds from growing under or through your lawn by spraying it regularly with a long-lasting herbicide.
Synthetic turf can last up to 30 years if you practice good maintenance techniques, but really heading for long-term involves replacing the infill, restoring the shock-absorbing layer, and either replacing the weed-killing material or using an herbicide.
Different types of infill you can use on your lawn include crumb rubber, silica sand, TPE (thermo plastic elastomer), EPMD (a polymer elastomer infill), or an organic infill like coconut fiber or cork. In terms of maintenance, the difference between organic and synthetic infill is the frequency with which you’ll have to replace/ refill the material.
Harsh rainfall or heavy winds can remove infill from between the blades of your turf. This means that another factor that contributes to the maintenance requirements of turf infill is the amount of rainfall your lawn receives. Taking these rainfall frequency and infill type into consideration, replacing it is quite easy- the task simply involves using a firm brush or rake to reposition the turf. In more detailed areas, you can also use a wide-tooth comb.
This step in maintaining turf for the long-term is very painless as you don’t need to remove the turf- simply rake the existing infill and a couple of years on, add some extra infill to replace any that may have blown off or become deteriorated by use.
To make an artificial lawn feel natural when walked upon, many are laid upon a shock-absorbing layer that creates a springy effect. However, the shock-absorbing material loses its bounce after around three to five years. If you find your lawn has begun to feel hard and unyielding to walk on, it’s probably time for a new shock absorbing layer. Simply peel back the grass and replace the shock-absorbing material with a fresh layer.
On the other hand, if your lawn is mainly for show and rarely used, a shock absorber isn’t so important and your lawn will continue to look fine if you miss this step. What’s more, a very dense, high quality synthetic turf may not require a shock-absorbing layer to feel good to walk upon.
Weed Killers and Herbicides
Some people install a weed-killing layer under the surface of the turf. Any weed-killing agent is vital for the long-term life of artificial grass since weeds can displace the mat or create lumps in the lawn.
If you installed a weed-killing material under the turf mat, replacing it will involve removing the turf. It’s not a huge hassle and these weed-killing mats are made to last, but they do need to be replaced every 3-5 years. Alternatively, you can use an herbicide to keep your lawn weed-free, but this will require frequent spraying. Also, make sure none of the chemicals are harsh enough to deteriorate the synthetic blades.
Installing an artificial lawn in your yard means saying goodbye to worries about yellow patches, dead grass, and constant labor to keep your yard looking good. You can go away on vacation whenever you like and leave your lawn maintenance to when it’s most convenient for you to do it. Then, when you have time, a few minutes’ brushing or raking and maybe a quick wash with a mild detergent are all that’s needed to maintain a fresh, green attractive appearance. Keep weeds at bay, and, finally, give your lawn a check up once a year in case its infill or shock absorbing layer need attention.