Save water and money: ‘upgrade’ to artificial grass

26 Oct 2016

Artificial or synthetic grass is a low-maintenance alternative to real grass as it doesn’t need any watering, mowing, fertilising or weeding, and it stays green all year round.

The beauty about artificial grass is that it can be used both indoors and outdoors, for residential use, open spaces, complexes, estates and rooftop gardens.

This is according to Ali Kotwal from Ecograss SA, who says with artificial turf, homeowners will be able to cover spaces or areas where natural grass won’t grow due to shade caused by trees or buildings. He says as well as being child- and pet-friendly, artificial grass is eco-friendly and recyclable.

How much does it cost to maintain a real lawn?

After doing some research with Water Wise, Ali says an average garden will cost homeowners +-R1 500 on water and +-R200 on fertiliser. He says gardening services could cost in the region of R150 to R250 per week or more.

How much does artificial grass cost?

According to Ali, artificial grass will cost in the region of R125 to R450 per square metre, depending on the pile height (thickness) of the grass. He says this excludes the installation costs and delivery charges.

He says the installation could either be a stick-down application on a cement or concrete surface, or a landscape (porous base preparation) application. He says a site survey or pictures of the site are required to determine the application and the calculation of raw materials.

Ali says quality artificial grass should come with a UV guarantee and a warranty on the installation. He says they offer an 8-year UV guarantee and a 2-year warranty on installation.

Pet owners need to carry out daily maintenance and make a point to remove pet mess straight away.

Where can I use artificial grass?

The beauty about artificial grass is that it can be used both indoors and outdoors, for residential use, open spaces, complexes, estates and rooftop gardens.

Can I install the synthetic grass myself?

Ali recommends that the installation be done by a professional installation company that can offer the guarantee or warranty on the artificial turf and the installation.

He says the installation plays a key role in the longevity and performance of the grass. It is the end result which makes the artificial grass look perfect.

He says professionals can make sure that the seams are perfect and that the edging on the sides of the grass are tapered to create a neat finish.

He says homeowners can attempt to install the grass themselves but they should keep in mind that the pile direction has to be the same as the seams or joints, which have to be done with seaming tape and the correct outdoor adhesive.

He says the grass needs to be trimmed too.

There are certain things that should not be done on artificial grass. Anything that involves a naked flame like a bonfire, lighting of fireworks, braai stand, smoking and tossing of cigarette buds should not be carried out near the grass.

It is also important to have the correct tools and equipment on hand, as well as the correct raw materials to prepare a porous base.

It is therefore in the interest of the homeowner to use the services of a reputable grass company with an excellent track record.

How do I care for artificial grass?

Ali says artificial grass requires minimum maintenance depending on the amount of foot traffic it gets.

He says homeowners should power brush areas that get high foot traffic and use a regular in-fill of silica sand, which prevents pile crush.

Brushing the grass

According to Ali, homeowners should maintain artificial grass once a week using a broom. Brushing the grass ensures that the pile remains standing upright. A soft bristle broom or brush is recommended for this.

During the summer months and high traffic areas, brush the grass regularly to prevent compaction of the blades and pile crush, he says.

Care tips for pet owners

Pet owners need to carry out daily maintenance and make a point to remove pet mess straight away.

Ali says artificial turf can be washed down with hot water as this will remove any residue left on the surface. For stubborn stains, a household detergent can be added to the hot water and then rinsed with hot water.

Homeowners can grow other plants near synthetic grass but preferably in areas separated by kerbstone to prevent damage to the underlying base.

He says don’t use cleaning detergents that contain bleaches, caustic cleaners (ph above 9) or highly acidic cleaning agents (ph below 5). Rinsing is important to remove traces of soap like ammonia liquids.

Ali says remember to mop or blot up excess liquids.

How to remove chewing gum

Ali says chewing gum can be removed by freezing or using dry ice. After freezing the gum, scrape it off with a knife or putty knife. Freezing aerosol cans are available from carpet cleaning suppliers.

Protecting your artificial turf

Precaution should be taken when painting garden sheds, wooden decks or fences. It would be advisable to use drop sheets to prevent spillage onto the artificial grass.

General avoidance

Ali says there are certain things that should not be done on artificial grass. He says anything that involves a naked flame like a bonfire, lighting of fireworks, braai stand, smoking and tossing of cigarette buds should not be carried out near the grass.

Ali says it’s important not to get paint, adhesives or chewing gum onto the grass surface as it can damage the pile and latex of the grass.

Can I grow any other plants near synthetic grass?

Ali says homeowners can grow other plants near synthetic grass but preferably in areas separated by kerbstone to prevent damage to the underlying base.