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Pet-Friendly Artificial Grass in South Carolina: What It’s Really Like

We get a lot of questions from other dog owners here at Purfect Turf, so here’s what living with a synthetic lawn is like—with answers below.

1. Can the dogs damage it?

The polyethylene grass itself is virtually indestructible. Dogs cannot damage it by running around on it, or even chewing it. The sheets are secured into the compacted substrate with foot-long nails. A large, determined dog can pull up a corner if it really wants to try, as one of our dogs has done to one corner, before digging a hole in the sand beneath. All I had to do to fix it was fill the hole, and pound the nail back in. They haven’t bothered it since.

2. What’s maintenance like?

I pick up poop once a day. Because we feed our dogs a healthy diet of raw meat, organs, eggs, and bones, they produce about one-third the volume that dogs fed kibble would. That poop is also firm, and doesn’t smell nearly as bad. Some crumbs are left behind. Rain will wash those through the woven backing, as will a garden hose. During winter, some poop does get left behind. Extrapolate that across 300 pounds of dog, and the spring melt can leave the yard looking pretty gross. Once the snow and ice have melted enough to make it possible, I pick up all that leftover poop by hand, then thoroughly rake the yard free of all other debris, before pressure washing it with a 15-degree nozzle. The rake fluffs the blades, and the pressure washer gets them nice and clean. I usually only need to do a complete pressure wash once a year, but I will spot clean it if there’s gross diarrhea. In summer months, I deodorize the lawn with Simple Green Turf Deodorizer every two weeks or so, or before we have people over. In the fall we rake leaves like everyone else. That’s it.

3. Does it get hot?

Our 650-square-foot back yard has southern exposure and sits between the house and garage, which are both painted black. It’s unshaded by the trees on the north side most of the day. On days where temperatures exceed 90 degrees, the turf does become warm to the touch, and the dogs avoid laying on unshaded areas. It doesn’t trap enough heat to make hanging out back there unpleasant, but I know some people who like to use a sprinkler on their pet fake grass lawns on the very hottest days.

4. Do you feel comfortable walking on it barefoot?

The yard can be as clean as you want it to be. Since this is our entertainment area in the summer, I keep it spotless. The material is much softer than the crinkly astroturf materials you’ll find at a home supply store.

5. Does it get stiff in winter?

I’ve never observed this. Snow and ice lay on top of, rather than cling to, the blades. They have remained pliable through temperatures as low as 26 degrees below zero. Although in South Carolina we really do not get much snow.

6. Is it hard, and does the yard get lumpy?

Sitting or walking on the turf feels just like sitting or walking on a natural grass lawn. I don’t worry about taking a tumble on it. Nor has any human or dog activity displaced the substrate enough to create any apparent lumps.

7. Is it environmentally friendly?

Every yard is different. While the artificial turf will eventually end up in a landfill, the time for that is two, if not three decades in the future. And in that time, we’re saving immense amounts of water, energy, and chemicals. Ultimately, the answer to that question will depend on what part of the country you live in, and the standard of lawn upkeep you maintain. Perhaps more importantly, synthetic grass may prevent your dog from ingesting or absorbing chemical fertilizers through their skin.

8. Is it cheaper than maintaining a natural lawn, over time?

I’m going to have to devote a full day this weekend to preparing our natural front lawn for spring. It’s about twice the area of the backyard, and I’ll probably spend about $100 on seed and another $50 on fertilizer. Before I spread that seed and fertilizer, I’ll need to aerate. Covering a 1,300 square foot lawn in an inch of water takes 806 gallons every time, but our water isn’t metered, so that’s cost neutral. I did have to buy a new electric lawnmower last year, at a cost of $250. Assuming an annual lawn maintenance cost of $200, it take 25 years to break even on synthetic grass. It’s neat that this trajectory also works out to the rough life expectancy of astroturf, but no, I did not install it to save money. I installed it to make living with dogs easier. And considered in that context, it’s an investment that’s already paid for itself. Any more questions? Feel free to give Purfect Turf a call ! Phone: 803 991 4121 Service areas: Elgin, South Carolina Columbia, South Carolina Lugoff, South Carolina

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