Artificial city

Is artificial grass worth the high price? These San Antonians say yes – especially with the drought

Guests entering the backyard of Sharon O’Malley Burg’s Rogers Ranch home often comment on how neat and clean it looks. That’s because about five years ago, she and her husband, a retired Air Force major general, replaced what had been a patchy, weedy lawn with a blanket of sod. emerald green artificial – part of which was a practice green.

“It changed our relationship with the backyard,” said O’Malley Burg, who runs an information technology and cyber consulting company. “We love to entertain, and the artificial grass makes the yard look like a storefront.”

With the city already in Phase 2 of water restrictions and climate experts calling for longer-term droughts, many homeowners may be wondering if now is the time to replace their waterlogged lawns. by artificial turf – and whether it’s worth the high cost of doing so. .

In San Antonio, for example, synthetic turf costs between $7 and $13 per square foot, depending on the quality of the turf, according to Justin Hale, owner of Amazing Turf & Lawn.

It cost O’Malley Burg and her husband about $58,000 for this clean, crisp look, which included design, removal of existing growth and site preparation, decorative stone, and about $3,800. square feet of grass.

Roger Burg practices on the artificial turf practice green in the back yard of his Rogers Ranch Home. Burg and his wife Sharon O’Malley Burg installed the fake grass in their yard to help save water.

Carlos Javier Sanchez, Contributor

“It was breathtaking,” she said of the cost. “But we’ve never regretted it because not only are we using the backyard more than ever, but we think it’s a good investment in our home.”

Artificial grass fans say it has many benefits that make it worth the price. Fake grass can reduce yard maintenance and water usage bills. It can also significantly reduce a yard’s mosquito population as well as fleas, ticks, chiggers and other insects that cannot live in plastic.

And the modern doesn’t absorb as much heat as it used to, thanks to sun-blocking resins added to the fiber and W- or S-shaped blades that absorb less sun than flat blades.

“The yard is so carefree that we plan to live here longer than we otherwise would have if we still had to maintain it,” she said.

Artificial turf made headlines in 1966 when it was installed in the Houston Astrodome, where it was dubbed AstroTurf. While previous iterations had a well-deserved reputation for being tough and unforgiving, modern turf is more flexible, making it durable enough for high traffic areas but soft enough for children’s play areas. It can also be used in putting greens, pétanque courts and even mini golf courses.

Demand for artificial turf is skyrocketing, according to Hale, who has been installing synthetic turf since 2013. He said that until two years ago business was growing at a slow and steady pace. Then came the pandemic.

“As people were forced to stay in their homes, they realized their backyards were dirty, muddy and there wasn’t much grass,” he said. “They hated it.”

Soon Hale’s business exploded with customers deciding to spend some of the money that would have gone to vacations and restaurants on artificial turf for their lessons. Since then, his business has grown 30-40% per year.

Before and after photos of Rachel and Shaun Gardiner's garden in the woods of Shavano.  They added artificial turf to the yard because it was too shady to grow grass so their three children and dogs would stop dragging mud through the house.

Before and after photos of Rachel and Shaun Gardiner’s garden in the woods of Shavano. They added artificial turf to the yard because it was too shady to grow grass so their three children and dogs would stop dragging mud through the house.

Rachel Gardiner

When Rachel Gardiner and her husband moved into their Woods of Shavano home five years ago, the heavily shaded garden was mostly dirt or, when it rained, mud. “When we visited a restaurant that had a play area with artificial grass, we said, let’s look at that,” Gardiner said.

Today, their yard is a green oasis where their three young children and two dogs can play and Gardiner, a housewife, doesn’t have to vacuum every time they come home.

One hurdle preventing even more homeowners from making the switch is the homeowners association rules prohibiting the installation of artificial turf. When O’Malley Burg and her husband began examining it, they discovered it was against their HOA rules.

“So we got involved in the organization and were able to get the rules changed, so it’s now allowed in our part of Rogers Ranch,” she said.

There are several common artificial turf misconceptions that Hale says he has to address every time he talks to a potential client.

The first is that artificial grass is difficult to keep clean if your pets use it to relieve themselves. In fact, turf made of synthetic materials inhibits the growth of bacteria or other microorganisms from animal waste. All it takes is to scoop it up and quickly hose down the area.

A close up of the artificial grass in the yard of Sharon O'Malley Burg's Rogers Ranch.

A close up of the artificial grass in the yard of Sharon O’Malley Burg’s Rogers Ranch.

Carlos Javier Sanchez, Contributor

When it comes to liquid waste, artificial turf is designed to allow liquids, such as rain and pet urine, to quickly pass through the top layer to the substrate below. This base is made of 4 inches of porous material like crushed limestone and decomposed granite, so liquids drain quickly.

There are also products which, applied to the surface of the lawn, neutralize residual odours. Simply Google “artificial turf treatment for pets”.

Another misconception is that artificial lawns require no maintenance. While it’s true that they don’t need mowing, fertilizer, or watering, they do do require some attention. Leaf fall, for example, can be a problem.

“What you don’t want is to let leaves and other organic matter sit on the turf long enough to start decomposing,” said Lance Heckel, owner of Synthetic Turf International of San Antonio. “A high-pressure hose or a good leaf blower will usually do the trick to remove the debris.”

Finally, new technologies have made grass more natural.

Jeff Bailey installed artificial turf in his Terrell Hills home and said it looked more like real grass than a cartoon painting.

“It’s not all a shade of green,” said Bailey, who works in commercial real estate. “There is a variety of colors.

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