The grass is always greener... - Outdoor and Landscaping NZ
The grass is always greener...

The grass is always greener...

Artificial grass has come a long way since it was invented in the 1950s, these days there are products that are so realistic looking and environmentally conscious that even the family dog will find it hard to tell the difference.

Words by Justin Foote

Few things look nicer in the residential world than a crisp, architecturally designed home with a well-manicured lawn. It doesn’t even have to be that big of a lawn, just closely cropped and well cared for.

Problem is, few of us have the time these days to maintain a truly top-notch turf—and lawn maintenance services very rarely extend to more than a regular mow, meaning critical upkeep such as fertilising, dethatching, weeding and irrigating are often neglected.

Compounding the issue are other factors such as grass grub, poor drainage and even family pets can soon have your investment looking patchy and sub-par. It’s enough to make you want to bring in a concrete mixer.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to get to that. Advances in artificial turf technology have resulted in a range of natural-looking products that are so realistic you won’t actually realise you’re looking at a man-made alternative, says Jack Kennedy, Managing Director of SmartGrass.

“Up until recently we’ve been quite slow to look to artificial turf solutions here in New Zealand compared to our compatriots in Australia, Europe and North America, but that is beginning to change, due in part to their more realistic look and feel but also because of their suitability to homes with dogs.”

This home in Merivale is bounded on all sides by high walls and mature trees, making for a pleasant outlook but making it nigh on impossible to maintain a healthy natural lawn. The solution was Oasis 35 from the Smart Grass Earth Series range.

SmartGrass: realistic, durable and environmentally sustainable

“The perception is that artificial grass isn’t appropriate for dogs and a lot of it isn’t but we have a product that is—the Earth Series range featuring Oasis 35. Dogs really love it—even though they can’t dig through the grass surface—so much so that we’ve installed it into a lot of ‘doggy daycare’ centres as well as in homes.

“Made from polyethylene to a unique construction, Oasis 35 is the most realistic looking artificial product and comprises four different coloured blades for a true-to-life appearance. The polyethylene backing is also fully permeable – almost like a fabric – which enables water, dog urine and moisture to drain straight through like a sieve.This allows you to enjoy your lawn all the time, without drainage issues and smells. Additionally, dogs can run around on it year-round without fear of dragging mud into the house.”

Jack says Oasis 35 is the optimal balance between realistic and easy clean as shorter turfs can look somewhat less realistic while longer turf can make it more difficult to clean up after dogs.

To bring your dreams to life, a SmartGrass representative visits you onsite to understand your wishes. This involves measuring up the new lawn area and presenting a few different samples. Following the site visit, a quote is provided and once approved, installation is booked

“The price is determined by the square meterage and topography of the site, as well as the level of base preparation involved, however, it’s a similar price range to decorative paving,” says Jack.

“Our in-house installation team takes care of the whole process. The biggest part of the job is preparing the foundation; a timber frame with rock base for fast-acting drainage. It takes around 2–5 days—depending on the size of the job—to prepare the base and lay the turf, which is actually similar to laying carpet. Once the turf is down, it’s good to go; there is no immediate maintenance required and very low ongoing maintenance.

“Homeowners can do their own installation, but most clients get the professionals to do it. We do get a few customers who want to lay down artificial grass in the high-traffic areas and natural grass elsewhere, however, they usually go fully artificial eventually, once they realise how low-maintenance and prepossessing it is.”

SmartGrass installed 130sqm of Oasis 35 in three different areas of the garden to create a series of dog-friendly, low-maintenance lawn areas.

Oasis 35: the case for artificial grass

“I didn’t really realise how good it was going to look. There was a lot more work involved in the preparation than I had expected but the end result was better than I had imagined it would be,” says the owner of this home in Merivale.

The client had spent a couple of years trying to maintain the natural lawn before admitting defeat and making the decision to switch to artificial grass, says Jack.

“The ongoing maintenance and upkeep was too much. It’s more of an art than a science to keeping a lawn looking good. Most clients come to us wanting a viable option for replacing their natural lawn, having Googled everything they can to resolve ‘brown spots’ caused by dogs. We’ve had clients tell us they’ve resorted to using dyes and even crystals in their dog’s water bowl to get their grass looking good again.

“Oasis 35 was specified as it is perfect for families with dogs because it is part of the Earth Series range—the only 100 per cent recyclable artificial turf product in New Zealand. Additionally, the Earth Series drains five times faster than other artificial grass products and is three times stronger. The lawn has been down for six months and the client couldn’t be happier.”

Customers can contact SmartGrass directly and Jack says no project too big or small: “from ‘postage stamp’ backyards up to 3–400sqm. The Merivale project was 130sqm.”

The SmartGrass head office is in Christchurch with bases in Auckland, Wellington, Tauranga, Hamilton, Nelson, Dunedin and Queenstown, for nationwide service.

Learn more about dog-friendly, sustainable artificial grass products suitable for your next project.

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