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Artificial Grass

Installing Artificial Grass

To those of us with lawns to maintain, the past few years have given us some challenging weather. The most popular British grass varieties thrive best when given a combination of sunshine and showers. Spells of heavy rain or weeks of no rain at all make lawn maintenance that bit harder. Many people are now tempted by the benefits of an artificial lawn. But is it an investment worth making?

"A perfect lawn 365 days a year" is how one supplier describes artificial grass. With promises like that, it's not surprising that many people are opting for a synthetic lawn. Artificial grass isn't completely new, it first came to prominence in the late 60s as a synthetic sports surface in the Astrodome in Texas. Indoor grass surfaces are prohibitively expensive to maintain, so the fake grass provided cost advantages as well as being an all-weather playing surface.

The use of artificial grass in residential landscaping is relatively new and coincides with significant improvements in both the quality and range of products available. The introduction of water metering no doubt also played its part in expanding the artificial grass industry, as the traditional grass lawn often requires regular watering during dry summers to maintain its lush green appeal.

Most commonly used as a grass replacement, perhaps the first point to note is that artificial grass can actually be installed on many different surfaces, or even installed indoors. Artificial grass is mostly available in shades of green but it is certainly possible to obtain varieties in more exciting colours that can be used to create an imaginative play area for children. Gone are the days when artificial grass resembled a close-cut bowling green. Although that is still an option, an artificial lawn comes in many different pile heights that can resemble a perfectly manicured lawn or a natural spring meadow.

Installation process

When used to replace a grass lawn, how exactly is artificial grass installed? As with many landscaping projects, a solid base is the key and at L H Robinson we remove the existing lawn surface to a depth of about 75mm or 3 inches. The perimeter is edged with tanalised timber to provide suitable support to the sub-base, then we lay a Type 1 limestone hardcore to a depth of 40mm. This sub-base is then compressed with a wacker plate to avoid sinkage and achieve a solid base. We add a 25mm layer of grano dust as a base for the artificial grass, which is then compacted and covered in a durable weed membrane. Only once the base has been well prepared do we then roll the grass into position across the entire area and ensure all the seams are lined up and joined. The grass is finally secured with nails to the timber edge around the perimeter of the garden.

Maintenance

All synthetic surfaces are best described as 'low maintenance' rather than 'no maintenance'. If you have an artificial lawn there are still a number of activities you need to undertake, and we make these clear to customers as part of our installation work. Premium artificial grass has better "bounce back" when covered with heavy objects but it is still better to avoid placing cars, motorbikes or heavy equipment on the grass for sustained periods to avoid compaction of the grass blades. We also recommend that you sweep or blow off any debris or leaves from the artificial lawn about once a month to prevent any build up of organic matter. Brushing the surface once a month with a stiff bristle brush is also good for maintaining vertical grass position. Finally, you need to pay particular attention to cleaning up after pets. After their mess is removed, wash the area down with warm, lightly soaped water.

Benefits of Artificial Grass

The benefits of fake grass are simple: beautifully green lawn all year round, whatever the weather or if your garden is in full sun or shaded. It's very low maintenance so you spend more time enjoying your garden rather than working in it. Finally, no longer will your kids trample mud through your house when they have been playing in the garden. But what are the disadvantages?

Artificial Grass Disadvantages

Artificial grass certainly doesn't provide that satisfying cut-grass smell and, as worms don't live under the artificial grass, there is less food available for the birds. Less obviously, the artificial grass surface heats up more in the summer so you may need to sit on a rug or towel when it's really hot. Finally, artificial lawns are not forever. Decent artificial grass suppliers will typically offer a 10 to 15 year guarantee which covers abnormal wear & tear as well as fading or rotting, though any warranty relies on installation of an appropriate sub-base - a good reason to call in professional artificial grass installers for this work.

Conclusions

So is artificial grass worth it? Only you can make that decision. We are happy to show you a selection of premium artificial grass samples to gauge the quality for yourself. We can also put you in touch with some of our existing customers if you need an independent view of pros and cons, or their opinion of our installation expertise. But if you are looking at artificial grass as an option for your garden, give us a call to discuss your requirements and we can provide some advice as well as a free quote.