Monday, June 15, 2009

Artificial turf offers landscapers a nice opportunity

If you’re in the landscaping business and looking for a new revenue opportunity, take a couple of minutes to investigate adding synthetic turf installations to your service mix. If you’re unfamiliar with the product, we suggest you visit the Website for the Association of Synthetic Turf Installers. It has an incredible amount of information on it that is helpful to contractors.

Artificial turf, for sports fields and for home and commercial properties seems to be immune to the lingering U.S. recession. Installations continue to climb at a brisk double-digit annual rate. More and more landscape contractors are offering installations.

Nowhere has this been more evident than regions of the country with expensive water or with watering restrictions, especially for homeowners and commercial property owners in the U.S. Southwest. Some water agencies there are even offering property owners financial incentives for taking out turfgrass and installing synthetic turf, as much as $1 a sq. ft.

Water agencies are targeting what they feel is wasted water. They claim that as much as 60% of the water that property owner use goes to outdoor irrigation. The majority of that is wasted, they say. Synthetic turf does not require irrigation, they reason, so it makes sense to encourage people to install fake grass to save water.

With or without cash incentives, synthetic turf is especially popular on properties where it’s very difficult to grow grass, for backyard putting greens and for dog runs, which homeowners appreciate because their dogs do not wear out the grass in their yards and get muddy.

Synthetic turf marketers stress the savings that artificial turf offers over turfgrass — the savings in water use, fertilizers, pest controls and maintenance costs because, obviously, you don’t have to mow synthetic turf. These are legitimate savings. But artificial turf requires maintenance, mostly sweeping, cleaning and, in some cases, sanitation. Who wouldn’t clean up the waste left by dogs on what is essentially an outdoor, weatherproof carpet?

Artificial turf is not inexpensive. The cost of a professional installation can vary from $6 to more than $20 a sq. ft., depending upon factors such as the prep work needed to lay the poly grass, property size and layout. The presence of small, odd-shaped areas within a landscape would increase the cost because of the extra time required to cut and fit the turf onto them.

Here’s a quick look at artificial turf versus natural turf on a home landscape:

Artificial Turf

— substantially higher initial cost to install
— lower ongoing maintenance costs
— 10-15 year life with minimal maintenance
— much hotter on sunny days
— while some communities offer cash incentives to install it, it is not allowed in some communities or HOAs
— does not provide a natural filter for runoff
— eventually will have to be disposed of

Natural Turfgrass

— lower initial cost
— higher maintenance costs
— often requires irrigation
— provides a cooling effect, reduces urban heat buildup
— a proven bio-filter and cleanser for stormwater runoff
— sequesters carbon, releases oxygen

Again, here's the website for the Association of Synthetic Grass Installers — http://www.asgi.us. — Ron Hall

6 comments:

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