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artificial lawn?
Old 06-22-2007, 06:47 PM   #1
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artificial lawn?

Hello all,

Anyone looked into or tried artificial turf for their lawn?

We own a rental property in San Diego, and the back yard is nearly impossible to keep green. We put a lot of effort into it each year when we were living there, and it still got to be near death every year.

We reclaimed a fair amount of the lawn for beds, and put in natives and other drought-tolerant plants, but there is still about 21x25 feet of lawn. There is a sprinkler system that's ok but leaves a couple bare spots which inevitably ended up as dirt and had to be re-seeded. Also, the plot is graded poorly - slopes toward the house - so that puddles of water end up on the patio.

Now that we've rented the place out for a year, it's obvious from what the property manager says that it's worth trying some kind of more permanent fix, as the tenants (who are otherwise taking good care of the place, including the front lawn) have not managed to keep the back alive.

The property manager suggested artificial turf, although she didn't know how much it would cost. I asked about sod, and she pointed out that would likely require more re-grading than the artificial stuff, and also more care.

Any thoughts?
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Old 06-22-2007, 06:52 PM   #2
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Hello all,

Anyone looked into or tried artificial turf for their lawn?

We own a rental property in San Diego, and the back yard is nearly impossible to keep green. We put a lot of effort into it each year when we were living there, and it still got to be near death every year.

We reclaimed a fair amount of the lawn for beds, and put in natives and other drought-tolerant plants, but there is still about 21x25 feet of lawn. There is a sprinkler system that's ok but leaves a couple bare spots which inevitably ended up as dirt and had to be re-seeded. Also, the plot is graded poorly - slopes toward the house - so that puddles of water end up on the patio.

Now that we've rented the place out for a year, it's obvious from what the property manager says that it's worth trying some kind of more permanent fix, as the tenants (who are otherwise taking good care of the place, including the front lawn) have not managed to keep the back alive.

The property manager suggested artificial turf, although she didn't know how much it would cost. I asked about sod, and she pointed out that would likely require more re-grading than the artificial stuff, and also more care.

Any thoughts?
There is a reason they call them artificial.... a few years ago, we were putting up a new fence with our neighbors, ... one of them suggested that we put up a plastic fence, white in color. It looked 'plastic'. I suggested that we just go with the wood. We did, and it looks much better. It's a matter of taste.
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Old 06-22-2007, 06:57 PM   #3
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I've seen it in a couple places and I think it is actually a lot nicer than what I thought. Of course it doesn't feel like real grass, but honestly it looks pretty good. I wouldn't ever want it for my own home, but I could see the appeal of it for some people. It could actually be a selling point for your property in that it would be maintenance free. Good thing you only have a small space to cover b/c it is not cheap.
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Old 06-22-2007, 07:10 PM   #4
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Very, very expensive.

I might suggest perusing here for grasses and equivalent ground covers that will take a heat/dry beating and hang in there.

Home: High Country Gardens
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Old 06-22-2007, 10:09 PM   #5
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Thanks for the tips. I agree with the resistance to "artificial," and it's hard to find pricing but it looks prohibitively expensive.

Thanks for the site recommendation, CFB, I would love to put in something like the UC Verde, which would likely do well. Or better, at least. But because it's a rental and we're not nearby, I don't feel confident that new plugs would get planted and maintained well enough to get established. How hard is this to do, do you know?

I guess really I'm just frustrated that we didn't quite have time to make the landscaping more maintenance-free before we moved. I am wondering if we could get away with having it tilled and re-seeded, and automate the sprinklers so that the tenants don't have to remember to water.
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Old 06-22-2007, 10:25 PM   #6
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Its not entirely easy. You have to "kill" the old lawn either with plastic or a short term "roundup" product, then plant the plugs in the "dead" lawn. Water it a bit until they get established, then you're good to go.

Given that we're in a somewhat similar climate range, you could probably get away with "killing" the lawn over the summer by not watering it, then plugging in the late fall while its still pretty warm and let the winter rains and nice spring weather do the rest of the work.

You might pay a landscape guy or some lesser cost labor to do the work and a regular visit to check up on it. It'll all be an order of magnitude cheaper than a fake lawn. I looked into it for a chunk of my old front yard...maybe 15x20...and it was something like 10 grand. I decided pretty quick that mowing wasnt that bad.

That fake stuff isnt 100% maintenance free either. You have to pay the company to come out periodically and do a little work to it. And god help ya if a neighbor dog comes by and decides to do a little digging...
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Old 06-22-2007, 10:56 PM   #7
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Not sure if this will work in your yard or not, but we changed part of our backyard to an extra sitting area. We did this by scalping the grass. We then put down a double thickness of weed barrier and put in gravel (about 1 1/2 inch thick). We made a path going from our patio to the sitting area. We added 2 gliders and pots of flowers and grasses. It looks very nice.
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Old 06-23-2007, 11:04 AM   #8
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If you have a fake lawn, do you vacuum it if it gets dirty? Pick it up and shake it off? There are all sorts of things, seeds, pollen, dirt, leaves, etc that fall on the ground and if it doesn't grow it decomposes. Every once in a while I see someone who has landscaped using rocks or some other material that doesn't decompose. You see all sorts of stuff accumulating on the rocks. At the very least I would imagine you would have to take a leaf blower to the turf/rocks/whatever to remove debris.

I have a personal aversion to fake stuff (vinyl tile that looks like wood, AstroTurf, laminate that looks like stone), but I suppose that is somewhat snobbish on my part.
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Old 06-23-2007, 11:15 AM   #9
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Field Turf and its ilk does need to be raked/blown or a suction collector used on it...looks like a lawn mower but is more like a vacuum cleaner in operation.

Its fairly realistic looking and its base of ground rubber and sand produces a nice soft foot feel. Without close examination all you might notice is that it just looks a little bit TOO perfect.

The local parks around here are installing it on all the athletic fields and some playground areas. Many of the richie-riches are also using it for their backyard landscaping, or at a minimum for their backyard putting greens.

WM - one other suggestion. I have a heck of a time keeping the grass green here through the summer. The actions i've taken...which do take some time...is to apply extra iron (ironite), organic fertilizers which take time to break down, over fertilizing in the winter with low nitrogen fertilizers to encourage root growth, allowing the grass to grow taller and longer to encourage deeper root growth, and watering twice a day for shorter periods to get less runoff/seepage and more water into the grass root.

Seems to help. The double watering (either one in the am and one in the pm or at least an hour apart in the morning) seems to really help the most.
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Old 06-23-2007, 11:16 AM   #10
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mulch

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Old 06-23-2007, 01:00 PM   #11
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As for me, I've driven nothing but old BMW's or VWs for the last 15 years. I think the BMW touring or my old 533i have added far more class to my ratty debris hauling trailer than a domestic ride would:
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Old 06-23-2007, 03:59 PM   #12
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Thanks for the ideas.

I think we've reclaimed about as much of the lawn as we can (patio, drought-tolerant beds) without having to re-configure the sprinkler system. The remaining area is about 20x25, which should be manageable. I like the gravel seating area idea though, we may use that for our current house

CFB, thanks for the tips. I am assuming that tenants are generally not to be counted on for extra effort in lawn care, but watering twice a day for shorter periods is certainly do-able if we automate the sprinklers. And I'm sure the property manager can find someone to put extra amendments on once or twice per year.
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Old 06-24-2007, 10:29 AM   #13
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I have a personal aversion to fake stuff (vinyl tile that looks like wood, AstroTurf, laminate that looks like stone), but I suppose that is somewhat snobbish on my part.
Me, too, though I make an exception for fake foobs...
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Old 06-27-2007, 12:31 PM   #14
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Ok, talked to the property manager again. She doesn't seem to find 5K for the artificial turf to be excessive (!?). As a less desirable alternative, she suggested sod and improving the sprinklers, which would be about $1500. I suggested grading and re-seeding, and was met with a few seconds of disapproving silence - messy, takes too long to get established.

Am I being too cheap? Is $1500 just the kind of money we should be expecting to spend periodically? The 5K just seems ridiculous on its face.
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Old 06-27-2007, 12:58 PM   #15
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She doesn't seem to find 5K for the artificial turf to be excessive (!?).
I think she would feel differently if she's the one to pay.
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Old 06-27-2007, 03:00 PM   #16
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Don't forget to up a few artificial Christmas trees! And a goal post would probably look good.
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Old 06-27-2007, 07:58 PM   #17
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Funny, I was just at costco and they just started carrying rolls of fake grass. Not the hardware store stuff...this is $300-something per 7.5x12' roll (or thereabouts). Install it yourself or hire one of the manufacturers licensed experts. Looked like it installed like carpet...cut and joined, so in short it'll look crappy unless you fully level the surface.

But theres probably your low $/sq foot cost for materials.
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Old 06-28-2007, 01:51 PM   #18
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The turf-grass is really nice - it's what the pro stadiums use. We got a quote for our yard.

$70,000.

Mowing and fertilizing doesn't seem so bad after all
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