Artificial turf is a manufactured grass-like cover which makes the ground look and feel like it has real grass growing on it. These synthetic turfs come in many different types. They can be used in any number of different settings, from stadiums to home lawns, golf courses, landscaping, parks and public areas, and even indoor beautification.
The benefits are just as varied, ranging from water conservation to reduced maintenance, since it requires no planting, cutting or trimming. It saves the hassles of lawn mowing and gardening. There are no purchase and maintenance costs for gardening tools. For commercial organizations or those without a green thumb, it saves on the wages to be paid for a gardener.
More importantly, synthetic turfs can be rolled out anywhere and installed under any and all climactic conditions. It can be installed in dry desert climes just as easily as it can be installed in an alpine ski resort or a tropical jungle. Soil conditions and water availability (or lack thereof) are immaterial. In fact, a well-laid turf with a drainage layer may even help collect rain water to be used for other purposes.
The original Astroturf created by Monsanto for use in the Astrodome did not use any infill. The products in use today all come with a drainage layer, backing system, and infill’s which tend to be a mix of granulated recycled rubber and sand. The specifications of the grass blades may vary based on the application, but it will be monofilament synthetic grass, slit film/fibrillated type, or a knitted turf.
Monofilament synthetic grasses are thinner and uniform in their dimensions. They need less processing than fibrillated grasses, which makes the latter cheaper to buy but more expensive to install. Apart from the fibre material (usually polyethylene) and the pile height (length of grass blades), the factors to be considered for comparisons include the face weight and the backing type. The face weight is measured in ounces of yarn used per square yard.
It’s not rocket science, and anyone who has shopped for a carpet will know how this works. If more yarn is used per square yard, the product is denser and softer, and consequently more expensive. In this case, the cost is a combination of the type of yarn used, pile height, and the face weight.
The backing system is what’s underneath. The Polybac primary backing which is normally used is the one which the yarn punches through in the process of making the artificial turf. Unless it is a knitted turf, a secondary backing should be provided as a coating layer on the back. If this second backing layer is not provided, it drastically reduces the life of the product and its imperviousness to all kinds of weather.
This secondary backing layer is commonly made of polyurethane in the U. S. Products made in Europe or Asia may use latex instead. Either way, the point is to ensure the turf has a comprehensive backing system to make it durable.
It’s a given that turfs are easier and cheaper to “plant” and maintain. Not to mention the fact that it might be the only choice in places where real grass cannot grow due to geographic and climactic conditions. However, many buyers still want to know whether real grass or the fake one is more environmentally friendly.
The water conservation benefits cannot be overstated in a planet beset by global warming which is rapidly using up its natural resources. Apart from that, there are health and environmental benefits since turfs do not require pesticides and fertilizers which would otherwise pollute the soil, ground water, rivers and the reservoirs for decades. Another factor to be considered is the fuel consumption and resultant carbon emissions for lawn mowers and other power tools used for gardening.
On the safety side, tests conducted by more than 75 federal agencies and consumer protection organizations have found no risks in the air above a rubber crumb infill artificial turf. There any no elevated risks for children and adults who walk or play in it. The crumb rubber that can sometimes be seen in the form of little black pellets which have fallen out is virtually harmless for humans. Children often come in closer contact with the same thing in rubber toys and chewing gum.
Many local governments now offer residents tax credits and incentives for removing real lawns and installing a synthetic one. There is no doubt that it is much more beneficial and convenient. All that remains to be done is to get the best type of artificial turf matching the usage, the location, and the space available.