What is synthetic turf?
Synthetic turf is an artificial lawn material constructed from man made chemical compounds. The yarn or “grass blades”, are typically made from polyethylene. The backing that the yarn is sewn into is typically made from polypropylene and/or polyurethane.
All three of these chemical compounds are very common plastics used to make all kinds of products we use every day. Some examples of products made from polyethylene are plastic soda and water bottles, food containers, toys, and plastic bags. Products made from polypropylene include thermal underwear, carpet, furniture, auto parts and reusable containers. Polyurethane is used to make insulation, surfboards, foam for cushions, bedding and carpet.
The infill or ballast material is most typically sand or some form thereof. The infill is applied on top of the turf and power-groomed into the turf right down to the backing. Its purpose is to hold the turf in place and to help the yarn stand up as well as to help give the turf a natural feel. There are different infill materials that can be used depending on the application or use of the turf as well as customer preference. Some examples of infill materials are sand, Zeofill , Durafill and Envirofill. Durafill and Envirofill are antimicrobial polymer coated quartz sand.
Is synthetic turf safe?
Also see “What is synthetic turf?” above.
Is synthetic turf pet friendly?
Yes. Synthetic turf is permeable to urine and solid waste can be picked up as you would with real turf. Any remnants of solid waste can be hosed off. Further, when we install synthetic turf for dog owners, we substitute a portion of the infill material with a zeolite sand called ZeoFill. The zeolite sand absorbs urea and other pet odors so you can keep on enjoying your yard despite your dog using it to go potty.
If the turf is getting heavy pet traffic and/or we have not had rain in a long time, we recommend hosing it down to help wash away urine. Only rain water which contains sulphur will actually clean the Zeofill. However, ZeoFill makes a product called PE-51 that is an enzyme cleaner that cleans the infill material.
How is synthetic turf installed?
The installation of synthetic turf can be broken down into four parts.
Prep or Preparation.
This aspect of the construction is to prepare the ground for the base the turf will sit on. It is also the point at which grading issues can begin to be addressed, if necessary.
If there is an existing lawn, a sod cutter and/or shovels are used to remove it completely. After the lawn is removed, soil may also need to be removed to accommodate the 3”-4” of base material. For example, if the grade of the existing soil comes close to or just below a concrete patio or driveway or pool deck, soil will need to be removed so that when the base and turf is installed, the top of the blades of grass are just above the concrete.
Base material is comprised or Class II Road Base and decomposed granite. Road base is used to provide a stable base on top of soil for many structures such as roads, patios, concrete home slabs, etc. The decomposed granite is put on top of the road base to provide a smoother surface and better grip for staples and nails.
Occassionally, the soil may need to be compacted prior to the base material being installed.
Installation of Base Materials.
Now that the prep is done, the road base then decomposed granite can be installed. The road base is spread out evenly and graded for drainage, if necessary. It is then compacted with a vibratory plate compactor. A small amount of water is added to further help compact the material. Then the same is done with the decomposed granite. Now there is a very stable platform for the turf to site on.
Installation of Turf.
The turf is unrolled and laid out on top of the base. It is then seamed and cut to shape. Seaming consists of using a special tape and glue to hold turf together at the seams. The turf comes on 15’ wide rolls so the crew will try to orient the rolls of turf to minimize turf and waste cuts.
Then the turf is nailed and/or stapled along the edges and seams.
Installation of Infill
Now that the turf is down and nailed, the infill material can be installed. The infill material which is sand, in one form or another, performs several functions. It helps to hold the turf in place, helps the grass blades to stand up, helps the turf have a natural feel and helps direct water through the weep holes in the turf. Some infill materials such as ZeoFill, Durafill and Evirofill are sand coated with a polymer that has antimicrobial properties.
Once the infill has been spread over the top of the turf, power brooms are used to broom the infill material down through the grass blades to the backing where it stays.
How long does synthetic turf last?
There is no concrete answer to this question. Most turf companies now have warranties of 15 years. Life expectancy of the turf may exceed this number. However, there are too many variables from location to location that can effect the life span of turf. For example, turf in a temperate location that has a lot of cloud cover would last longer than turf installed in a very hot and sunny locale.