It would appear at a cursory glance that synthetic grass is a very expensive replacement for natural grass, but the high cost is only up front. When measured over the life of the grass you will find that synthetic grass is actually a cheaper alternative to the real stuff and the savings may not simply be the cost of maintaining the grass.
So, that higher upfront cost of a synthetic grass surface is pretty quickly recouped by the lower maintenance requirements. Time, energy and the possibility of greater usage gives you a surface that will pay for itself over its lifetime.
The History of Commercial Artificial Grass
Nowadays, commercial artificial grass is far from an uncommon sight in back gardens and sports pitches the world over. The synthetic material seems to well and truly have gained space over its natural counterpart, with traits such as its durability and ease of maintenance endearing it to the general public.
Time was, however, when the situation was markedly difference. Outside of a sporting context, commercial artificial grass was regarded as tacky and an inferior substitute for the real thing, and even when used to cover playing surfaces for sports it was far from consensual.
In the midst of all the disapproval, however, turf always had a few admirers, and it is them who are largely responsible for its eventual expansion and success. This article harks back to a time before commercial artificial grass existed, to give an overview of its origin, evolution and eventual rise to popularity worldwide.
The origins of commercial artificial grass date back to 1960s America. The material was first researched and devised by a team of scientists from the North Carolina State University College of Textiles, under the supervision of the dean himself, David Chaney. Together, these men came up with a material which looked and felt somewhat similar to grass, but without any of the shortcomings this material possesses; in short, what is nowadays known as turf.
Having created and perfected this material for optimal performance, Chaney and his team began searching for parties potentially interested in a test run. It did not take them long at all to find a considerably prominent ‘guinea-pig’, in the form of baseball team the Houston Astros, based out of the city of the same name in Texas. In 1966, the Astros’ home field, the Astrodome, became the first sports pitch in the world to be covered in commercial artificial grass. It was the beginning of a story which would only go uphill from there.
Once commercial artificial grass had proven its mettle as the playing surface for the Astros, and become known as ‘Astroturf’ as a result, other sports team owners across North American began taking an interest in the material. The late 1960s and early 1970s would see synthetic turf carpets spread across both major and minor league baseball fields, and eventually make their way into American football stadiums as well. Franklin Field, home to the Philadelphia Eagles and the University of Pennsylvania varsity football team, was the first venue to feature commercial artificial grass, but other pitches would soon follow suit, further cementing awareness for the material in public consciousness.
As popular as it was becoming with sports fans, however, commercial artificial grass still had one hurdle left to jump: the residential and landscaping market. Among home-owners, turf continued to be considered a cheap-looking, shoddy material, not at all an alternative to a real grass lawn. This generalised opinion stemmed from the first few artificial turf carpets looking somewhat less than realistic, as well as from the material’s connotation with lower-income homes. As such, commercial artificial grass faced a challenge when trying to prove its worth in the home market.
This challenge would eventually be overcome, but not for another two decades. It was not until the 1990s, more than twenty-five years after it had first been invented, that commercial artificial grass finally gained traction as a valid alternative within the home and garden market. This was largely due to the vastly improved appearance and realism level of modern turf carpets in relation to their predecessors, which helped do away with many of the concerns and prejudices keeping commercial artificial grass from establishing itself a landscaping alternative.
For the following two decades, commercial artificial grass saw its popularity continue to rise, until it could stand side by side with natural grass. Nowadays, many people even consider the material superior to its natural counterpart, at least for certain purposes, and it is expectable that this trend will continue in years to come. It is interesting, however, to think of a time when commercial artificial grass was not as popular as it is today, and to learn exactly how it came to achieve its present standing in society.
The Evolution Of Artificial Turf
With each passing year, commercial artificial grass becomes more and more established as a credible and highly-regarded material within western society. Gone are the days in which ‘fake grass’ was regarded as being tacky and not at all up to standard with ‘the real thing’; if anything, this opinion has been reversed, with artificial turf currently being the covering of choice for not only domestic lawns, but also sports surfaces.
One of the most underrated factors contributing to give commercial artificial grass this widespread popularity and approval was its high suitability for use in households with pets. Despite claims to the contrary having emerged over the years, the vast majority of artificial turf rolls available on the market nowadays are especially designed to be suitable for use by animals and small children. One sub-section of the market is even specifically geared towards this purpose, having earned the moniker of ‘pet grass’ as a result.
In fact, there are a number of ways in which commercial artificial grass trumps natural grass when it comes to its use by pets. Listed below are arguably the main three.
Allergies are one of the main concerns any pet owner faces. Animals, especially those allowed outside, such as dogs or cats, are just as prone to allergies as humans, and the very things which can trigger sneezing fits, fevers or rashes in humans can have the same effect on a pet. This is especially troublesome since nature tends to be full of substances and materials which can cause allergies or rashes, such as poison ivy or pollen. Natural grass, in and of itself, can often cause animals to itch or be otherwise allergic to them.
Commercial artificial grass does away with such an issue. Most artificial turf rolls are completely hypo-allergenic, meaning pets (and small children) run no risk of contracting allergies while romping about on them. In addition, replacing a natural lawn with an artificial one does away with most of the elements traditionally associated with allergies, further contributing to ensure pets remain allergy-free both during and after their outside expeditions.
As mentioned above, natural grass can often cause skin irritation in pets. While every pet likes to roll around in a grassy lawn, these moments of delight often result in itchy skin or rashes. With commercial artificial grass, such an issue is done away with, as most rolls of this material available on the market are non-irritant. As such, pets living in homes where natural grass is replaced by this material are likely to enjoy a much more pleasant, comfortable outdoor experience than they would have otherwise.
As also noted above, replacing a natural lawn with a commercial artificial grass carpet will do away with most of the elements likely to cause discomfort to animals while enjoying the outdoors. Two such elements are bugs and insects, which can cause irritation to pets, be it through bites or segregated substances. Once again, the installation of commercial artificial grass goes a long way towards solving this problem, as the synthetic nature of this material is not appealing to insects or bugs in the same way a natural lawn is. As such, these and other pests tend to stay away from commercial artificial grass carpets, which in turn can benefit the health and overall comfort levels of household pets.
It is clear, then, that when it comes to benefits for household pets, commercial artificial grass boasts a far larger number than its natural counterpart. It is, therefore, not at all surprising that more and more pet owners have been taking to replacing their natural lawns with artificial turf carpets, a tendency which is expected to continue and expand in years to come!