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What is Artificial Turf?

Nychole Price
Nychole Price

Artificial turf, also known as synthetic turf is a type of surface that resemble natural grass. It is used for arena sports, homeowners' lawns and commercial applications. Synthetic turf was created in 1960 by David Chaney, head of the RTP research team. It was popularized in 1965, when it was installed in the Houston Astrodome. Many people have grown to appreciate the reduced costs of maintaining artificial grass versus natural grass indoors.

Artificial turf is available in three types of materials: polyethylene, polypropylene and nylon. The type of material to use is determined by what it will be used for and what one can afford. Certain materials work better for different uses.

Artificial turf resembles natural grass, but doesn't require the same maintenance.
Artificial turf resembles natural grass, but doesn't require the same maintenance.

Polyethylene is very soft in texture, making it perfect for play areas. It can be cut to different heights, with three inches being the maximum height before it folds over on itself. It can mimic several types of grass, to include blue grass and fescue. When being used on golf courses, it doesn't work well for a putting green but makes great fringe grass.

Polypropylene is the least expensive artificial turf, making it the most popular and widely used. When used in golf courses, it works well as a putting green due to the natural stiffness of the material. This type of material, however, can't tolerate heat and will melt at temperatures above 155 degrees Fahrenheit (68.33 degrees Celsius). Unfortunately, the blades of grass can only be manufactured in one direction, meaning when you putt on this grass, it can only roll in one direction. It works great when putting with the direction of the grass but skips when putting against or across it.

Nylon is the strongest, highest quality, artificial turf you can buy. It will not become matted with extreme weight, unlike other materials. You can park a vehicle on the synthetic grass and it will bounce back once the car is removed. This material works well on playgrounds as it can tolerate the friction that comes from children running and swinging. Nylon also has a multi-directional interlocking design, making it great for use as a putting surface, as the ball will always roll correctly.

Artificial turf can be installed by a professional or yourself. It is relatively simple to install, as you just have to clear out the area and apply aggregate for drainage purposes. The area is then smoothed out with a rake and the artificial turf is laid down. The pieces of turf should overlap each other by three stitch rows and pressure is applied to make the seams adhere to one another. The synthetic turf is then fastened down by 6 inch (15.24cm) landscaping nails.

Discussion Comments


My college spent a large sum of money replacing the old grass football field with a new artificial turf when I was a freshman. The field looked great and it was the best artificial turf available at that time. However, the field was replaced a couple of years later because it was determined that the field put players at a greater risk for injury.

I think artificial turf used for athletic fields are much more user friendly today, but grass still appears to be the surface of choice at the moment.


@Laotionne - Artificial turf lawns -- good ones-- can pass for grass at a distance, but they will not pass the touch test, and a close up look will most likely give them away. However, the fact that you don't have to water and mow them may make them worth the trade off.


I remember when the Houston Astrodome was at its peak in popularity. The baseball team that played its home games in the place, the Astros, was not good, but the building was interesting to say the least. I guess people fell in love with the field because it was practically maintenance free compared to grass, and it was consistent throughout the field, so the baseball usually bounced in a predictable way.

Unfortunately, no one asked the athletes who played on the stuff for their opinions before artificial turf started popping up all over the place on professional and collegiate playing fields. I played on artificial turf several times and it was tough on the body.


Does artificial turf really look like natural grass. I mean is this something I would want in my yard, or would it be too obvious to anyone passing by that it was not grass? I wouldn't want it to look like I have carpet on my front lawn.

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    • Artificial turf resembles natural grass, but doesn't require the same maintenance.
      By: Andrii IURLOV
      Artificial turf resembles natural grass, but doesn't require the same maintenance.