Artificial grass has for long been used on large scale sports applications, but is now popular for many landscape purposes. Also known as outdoor carpets, artificial grass comes with the advantage of looking like natural grass. However, unlike natural grass, artificial grass needs no mowing. It stays green throughout since it can tolerate sunshine and a shade. It is durable, holding up to foot traffic. Natural grass may discolour and wither due to lack of water.
According to Ivan Nkata, a landscaper, one has to prepare the ground very well before installing the carpet. While specific installation methods for artificial grass depend upon the brand and type selected, several steps are applicable for all grass. Ensure you have measured the area you wish to cover. Determine how much grass you need to cover your intended area, including measurements of borders, edgings and curbs in the area.
He says: “Clear the area that will be covered by removing debris, rocks, grass, roots, mulch, and anything else that would pose a hazard to the carpet. Level the ground properly with a porous material such as sand to make the ground flat and smooth. It would also help in proper drainage in cases of rain.”
He also recommends that since artificial grass may not have a firm end, one can use curbstone to prevent it from unsewing at the ends.
Where to place the grass
Bruno Sserunkuma, a landscaper at UG Tropical Landscapes, says there are several landscaping situations for which artificial grass is a popular choice because artificial grass allows you to transform an ugly concrete or wooden surface into a green cozy outdoor space. He says: “Since natural grass does not grow well in places where there is not enough sunlight, artificial grass can be put in places with a lot of shade. Some people incorporate the grass in malls.”
If you have a big pouch but want a sitting area, you can also have the artificial grass on a pouch to enhance the nature effect. Artificial grass with a very short blade height is best for this purpose. “It can also be put at children’s parks and sports pitches since most of them can bear high traffic. If you are opting for artificial grass for a children’s play area, you can use a rubber under-layer to make a softer surface and prevent injuries,” Sserunkuuma says.
Also, artificial grass is a soft and green alternative to poolside decking. Be careful, however not to spill pool chemicals onto the grass.
Cleaning and maintenance
Artificial grass does not require a lot of maintenance like natural grass, but it is not entirely maintenance free according to Nkata. He, howver, notes that it is much easier to maintain than natural grass. If it is used strategically in the landscape, its unnatural appearance will hardly be noticed.
Artificial grass with longer blade length gets matted down when exposed to lots of foot traffic but running a plastic bristle brush through the fibres can help straighten them up. “Cleaning is a basic. Dust it often. You can also clean it with a plastic bristle brush and a diluted solution of a mild household detergent. However, avoid bleach detergents,” he says.
The downside of artificial grass is that it is more expensive to install than natural grass. It does not have the same look and feeling of natural grass. The grass also wears out with time losing its colour and shape. The blades bend with time, especially in places where there is a lot of traffic and is limited for water logged-areas. However, artificial grass can substitute natural grass in any situation, and is especially useful in areas with compacted soil and deep shade. Artificial grass with a long blade height is suitable for this purpose because it looks more real.
Making a better choice
Brian Kasibante, the chief operations officer at Turfland Turf Company, says artificial grass is classified according to its purpose There is usually sports turf for games and landscape turf that is often used in homes and rooftops. The latter looks more natural and is recommended for incorporating greenery into your home. The number of times your turf can be replaced depends on the manufacturer, the amount of traffic it handles and the size of the blades.
Kasibante recommends that a homeowner opts for UK brands, especially Tiger Turf, which he says is very durable. “The brands from the UK are more durable and if handled very well, they can last for more than 15 years. The Chinese brands are not as good and they often do not offer a guarantee for their turf,” he says.
Cost of artificial grass
The cost of turf also depends on the height of the grass blades, density and versatility. “There are variables that affect the price of the artificial grass (outdoor carpets), such as the thickness, the height of the grass blades and additional materials that are used in the manufacture and installation of artificial turf products, says Sserunkuma.”
A square metre of a 20mm thick artificial grass carpet that is UK brand ranges between Shs200,000 and Shs220,000 while a 40mm thick costs Shs350,000 per square metre.
Kasibante says most people import the grass themselves and get an expert to install, or order online. Turfland Uganda, is the most commonly known dealer in artificial grass in Uganda.
According to Kasibante, many people import the grass but since many are unable to install it, they contact them for the job. “Installing artificial turf requires technical know-how. It is not something anyone can do. Once you do not involve an expert, the grass may become water-logged,” he warns. The artificial carpets can be imported or ordered through Turfland Turf Company.
Types of artificial grass
All types of artificial grass have synthetic fibres woven on to a backing material.
There are several types, each of which is more or less applicable in different contexts says Bruno Sserunkuma, a landscaper. Nylon is the most durable type, but it is expensive and is typically used more in commercial sporting applications than in home landscapes because it has a less natural appearance.
Polyethylene is the most common synthetic grass for outdoor applications. This landscaping type is known for its durability, soft texture, and natural appearance. It is a mid-range option. “Polypropylene is the thinnest, least durable type of grass, but is suitable for low budget projects in areas with little foot traffic,” he says.