Artificial grass-is it good and worth it?

User Forum Topic
Submitted by kcal09 on April 5, 2015 - 2:17pm

Due to the drought I'm thinking about replacing approx. 1,200 sqft of my lawn with artificial grass. I understand that about 50-60% of my water usage goes to exterior irrigation. There is also currently a state rebate that pays about $2 per sqft. of artificial grass.
I would appreciate any comments especially which companies here in San Diego are good, pros and cons and comments about savings.
Thank you!

Submitted by LAAFTERHOURS on April 5, 2015 - 7:48pm.

grass

I just ripped out about 4k sq ft of grass and installed roughly 1500 sq ft of fake turf. I went with a product from Purchase Green, which was normally 3.89 a sq ft but was on sale last month for 2.89 a sq ft. With the 2 dollar per sq ft replacement, it was a no brainer. I also put in pavers, drought tolerant trees and plants and a pool but decided to use my paver guys to do the grass as they claimed it was their in the wheelhouse. They screwed it up so I ended up hiring a guy named Tony from Purchase Green who repaired it and was very reasonable ( would definitely recommend).

A couple thoughts on the grass: Dont go cheap on the material or labor. Try to keep the seams as minimal as possible.

A couple thoughts on the rebate: You must first get your project approved before starting which includes photos of existing landscape. You then need to knock out the project and go back online and submit receipts, photos of completion etc and then it takes roughly 8 -12 weeks to get your rebate so be prepared for this.

Submitted by CA renter on April 7, 2015 - 7:49pm.

That looks nice, LA. Thanks for sharing.

Submitted by ocrenter on April 7, 2015 - 9:40pm.

Went with the fake stuff 5 years ago, 1300 sqft at $6.5/sqft for about $8500.

ROI in less than 4 years given reduction in monthly water cost and no need for gardener.

Grass holds up really well, still looks new. Some maintenance is needed especially with weeds around the edges after raining season and raking of leaves around spring time.

Submitted by kcal09 on April 11, 2015 - 6:33pm.

Savings are substantial if you have a large lawn.

Submitted by moneymaker on April 11, 2015 - 8:01pm.

Noticed Home Depot putting some in in their parking lot islands, good idea for them as they get everything wholesale and can write it off as business expense.

Submitted by svelte on April 12, 2015 - 4:28pm.

LAAFTERHOURS wrote:

A couple thoughts on the grass: Dont go cheap on the material or labor. Try to keep the seams as minimal as possible.

I bought some cheap remnants to do a test area of several hundred square feet (long story), and I can vouch for your comment. Cheap stuff does not hold up well. And it takes more skill that it would seem. My DIY install looked good initially but is starting to curl around the edges...not a good look.

And the seams are definitely visible.

Another consideration: artificial grass gets HOT mid-day, so it may not be the best choice if you like walking barefoot or having kids laying in the grass during the hot part of the day.

We will probably redo the whole yard in artificial eventually...but that time around I'm gonna go with real nice products and professional installation.

Love that pool, LA. Very nice design.

Submitted by no_such_reality on April 13, 2015 - 6:51am.

I'm not a fan of artificial grass. I think there are other alternatives like xeriscape or buffalo grass.

In the end, artificial grass is just more hardscape. And climate change is being driven by land use and the spread of hardscape. Cities look like rock deserts.

Submitted by svelte on April 13, 2015 - 7:05am.

no_such_reality wrote:
I'm not a fan of artificial grass. I think there are other alternatives like xeriscape or buffalo grass.
.

Kinda depends upon what you want to do in the space.

Buffalo grass may work, but weed control is an issue.

But its kinda hard to kick a soccer ball around a xeriscaped area.

Submitted by zk on April 13, 2015 - 7:15am.

I could be reading it wrong, but it seems that the city of San Diego might exclude artificial turf in their rebate program, and that other programs only pay if you comply with the city's guidelines.

http://www.sandiego.gov/water/conservati...

Note that on that webpage, it says artificial turf won't get you a rebate in their program, but it points to two other rebate programs, and says that rebates "may" be available through those programs. Of those two links, one link refers you back to the other link, and that link says that applicants must "follow any additional requirements for their city."

If anybody reads that different or knows what the story is, I'd be very interested to hear.

Submitted by zk on April 13, 2015 - 7:20am.

svelte wrote:
no_such_reality wrote:
I'm not a fan of artificial grass. I think there are other alternatives like xeriscape or buffalo grass.
.

Kinda depends upon what you want to do in the space.

Buffalo grass may work, but weed control is an issue.

But its kinda hard to kick a soccer ball around a xeriscaped area.

We had "UC Verde buffalo grass" for a while. It wasn't bad, but it didn't work for us. The water savings was less than I expected. It spread by runners, and if the runner hit established grass, it just died. So you've got hundreds of dead runners blowing all over, making a bit of a mess. Plus it's brown in the winter. Just a couple things to keep in mind.

Submitted by afx114 on April 13, 2015 - 9:55am.

Just installed 720 sq ft into our back yard and love it. I was really hesitant because I hate fake shit, and worried about a lot of things like heat, toxins seeping into the soil, etc, but it looks nicer than dirt/dead grass and we actually use our back yard way more than before. There are a lot of styles to choose from these days. We went with one that has various thicknesses/lengths/colors of the strands, so it looks more "real" and less like golf grass. It even has some brown threads to make it look more natural. Stay away from the 100% green stuff, it looks too fake. Don't go cheap. Spend the money on the quality turf and a legit installer.

Just received our $1400 rebate check, so I've got that going for me, which is nice.

Oh, and we don't have to water it.

Submitted by an on April 13, 2015 - 11:11am.

zk wrote:
We had "UC Verde buffalo grass" for a while. It wasn't bad, but it didn't work for us. The water savings was less than I expected. It spread by runners, and if the runner hit established grass, it just died. So you've got hundreds of dead runners blowing all over, making a bit of a mess. Plus it's brown in the winter. Just a couple things to keep in mind.

I totally agree. It's not for everyone. It does go brown/dormant in the depth of winter. Mine went brown for about a month. The solution for that is to spray paint it during its dormant time, which for me, is mid December to Mid January. It does send out runner and runner will die if it doesn't hit dirt to create new roots. It doesn't really both me much. But then again, I also love the natural prairie look, so I only mow about once a month. Mowing will get rid of the dead runners too.

Submitted by LAAFTERHOURS on April 13, 2015 - 12:57pm.

I am thinking about filling in a back slope with the UC verde. I will never cut it though, which is the look we are going for (tall prairie grass). My only concern is whether it will take over trees or plants in the same area.

Submitted by CA renter on April 17, 2015 - 6:42pm.

AN wrote:
zk wrote:
We had "UC Verde buffalo grass" for a while. It wasn't bad, but it didn't work for us. The water savings was less than I expected. It spread by runners, and if the runner hit established grass, it just died. So you've got hundreds of dead runners blowing all over, making a bit of a mess. Plus it's brown in the winter. Just a couple things to keep in mind.

I totally agree. It's not for everyone. It does go brown/dormant in the depth of winter. Mine went brown for about a month. The solution for that is to spray paint it during its dormant time, which for me, is mid December to Mid January. It does send out runner and runner will die if it doesn't hit dirt to create new roots. It doesn't really both me much. But then again, I also love the natural prairie look, so I only mow about once a month. Mowing will get rid of the dead runners too.

Thanks for sharing your information and perspectives on UC Verde buffalo grass. We are going to do something with our grass, but are really at a loss for what do to. We absolutely HATE the rock/desert look, and have kids and a dog that regularly use the lawn, but acknowledge that cyclical droughts will always be a part of California living.

As I was researching the UC Verde, I saw some people talking about Eco-Lawn. It looks as though this type of grass uses about the same amount of water as the UC Verde, but does not get brown in the winter.

Did you do any research on Eco-Lawn? Any reasons for choosing UC Verde, instead?

If anyone has any experience or knowledge about this type of grass, please share. Thank you! :)

http://eartheasy.com/wildflower-farms-ec...

http://ucverdeblog.com/2011/07/08/uc-ver...

Submitted by sunny88 on April 17, 2015 - 7:18pm.

Good news. The city rebate now includes artificial grass as well! You can therefore get up to $3.50/sqft in rebates if you combine the city and the SoCal rebate program.

http://www.sandiego.gov/water/conservati...

Submitted by CA renter on April 21, 2015 - 1:49am.

zk wrote:
svelte wrote:
no_such_reality wrote:
I'm not a fan of artificial grass. I think there are other alternatives like xeriscape or buffalo grass.
.

Kinda depends upon what you want to do in the space.

Buffalo grass may work, but weed control is an issue.

But its kinda hard to kick a soccer ball around a xeriscaped area.

We had "UC Verde buffalo grass" for a while. It wasn't bad, but it didn't work for us. The water savings was less than I expected. It spread by runners, and if the runner hit established grass, it just died. So you've got hundreds of dead runners blowing all over, making a bit of a mess. Plus it's brown in the winter. Just a couple things to keep in mind.

Bumping this topic in hopes that someone will have some info about the Eco-lawn product.

Also, what did you use to replace the UC Verde, zk?

Submitted by OwnerOfCalifornia on April 21, 2015 - 1:21pm.

Recurring theme that one should plan on spending money for "quality labor and materials" for artificial turf.

What does this translate to in ~~~ $/sqft (contract cost, pre-rebates)?

TIA

Submitted by LAAFTERHOURS on April 21, 2015 - 4:06pm.

OwnerOfCalifornia wrote:
Recurring theme that one should plan on spending money for "quality labor and materials" for artificial turf.

What does this translate to in ~~~ $/sqft (contract cost, pre-rebates)?

TIA

Cheap Material can cost upwards of 2 dollars a sq ft. Quality material can go as low at 2.50-2.75 a square foot but you need to hunt for it.

Labor varies a lot. If you call up some of the larger mainstream companies, their total price includes their labor and its the only way to warranty the product. You will pay a premium for that warranty and I am not sure the value of it is worth it. Or you can hire someone that says they do it and save a buck. The last approach (recommended) is to use the turf company's recommended vendor list.

I looked at roughly 10 different companies material companies, some of which were a one shop outfit all the way up to looking at synlawn and easy turf. I didnt see the value in dropping 9-10 per sq ft to get synlawn or easy turf.

Submitted by montana on April 21, 2015 - 4:39pm.

We replaced all of our grass in our backyard with about 600 square feet of artificial turf last fall. We used Tiger Turf Marquee Pro Natural and we love it. My wife and girls now spend 2-3x more outside because it is hardly ever wet, never muddy, no bugs, etc. (I have a very picky five year old).

We had our landscape contractor perform the work and he did fine. However, he had not installed turf in a backyard where he had to worry about Low-E reflective windows. The day after install I had four or five melted streaks across the yard as the sun reflection from my windows was coming back in a laser beam and melting the turf. The turf itself can withstand 240 degrees!

After a long four month battle, my window manufacturer replaced half of my windows in my house for free (no more laser beams), the turf store provided new turf for free, and my contractor re-installed for free.

Initially I thought I was paying a little more than I wanted to spend, but after all that I went through with the melted turf which ended up not costing me an additional dime, I am fine with the original amount!

At the time, we qualified for the SoCal water rebate. As another posted stated, take the relevant pictures and get approved prior to starting the program. We ended up with a $2300 check where we replaced turf with artificial turf and other plants/shrubs.

We now save $80/month on a gardner and probabaly $40/month on water, so it will breakeven in ~4 years with a +/-20% IRR after 10 years. No brainer for us.
Artificial Turf

Submitted by ljinvestor on April 22, 2015 - 4:29pm.

So what was window manufacturer solution...no Low-E glass?

Submitted by zk on April 22, 2015 - 6:26pm.

CA renter wrote:

Also, what did you use to replace the UC Verde, zk?

We replaced it with regular old fescue. I made the lawn lower than the surrounding concrete and very level, and capped the drains. Therefore there's zero runoff. Which helps a bit. Still more water then the buffalo grass. But it's green in the winter, doesn't shed runners, and it's softer. It feels softer to me anyway.

Submitted by scaredyclassic on April 22, 2015 - 6:45pm.

anybody ever try just old used carpet on the ground for weed control?

Submitted by CA renter on April 23, 2015 - 1:09am.

zk wrote:
CA renter wrote:

Also, what did you use to replace the UC Verde, zk?

We replaced it with regular old fescue. I made the lawn lower than the surrounding concrete and very level, and capped the drains. Therefore there's zero runoff. Which helps a bit. Still more water then the buffalo grass. But it's green in the winter, doesn't shed runners, and it's softer. It feels softer to me anyway.

That's why I was wondering if anyone had any experience with the Eco-lawn product. It's composed of a variety of fescue grasses, and it's supposed to be about as drought tolerant as the UC Verde.

Is your grass fairly drought tolerant relative to the UC Verde, or might there be different types of fescue grasses that are specifically selected for drought tolerance?

Sorry to bother you with these questions. We're just trying to figure out what to do with our grass as well.

Also, did you DIY, or hire a contractor? We would prefer to go the contractor route if/when we change it out because our DIY lawn just doesn't look anywhere near as nice as the lawns that were installed professionally.

Submitted by montana on April 23, 2015 - 3:42pm.

ljinvestor wrote:
So what was window manufacturer solution...no Low-E glass?

The window manufacturer replaced the windows with Low-E glass, but the new windows were 3/16" thick vs. 1/8" in the original windows, as well as putting in "capillary insertion tubes". The thicker glass reduces the "flex" of the window and significantly reduces the laser beam effect and the "capillary insertion tubes" help regulate the pressure in the double pane window to match that outside of the window. The reflection of the sun is now a perfect replica of the window vs. the laser beam that melted our turf and previously had burned a number of our plants/shrubs etc.

Submitted by LAAFTERHOURS on February 23, 2016 - 1:49pm.

Resurrecting this discussion because when many of us signed up for the rebates, there was nothing discussing the Fed taxing the rebates as income. Tax season is upon us and MWD asked for W-9 to send out income statements.

The MWD has not fully disclosed whether these are to be taxed as federal income. Considering the money spent to pay someone to remove lawns was paid for by taxed income, the rebate was used to pay a contractor to install a permeable replacement for said lawn and that individual pays income taxes, it seems like the IRS is trying to triple dip on tax revenue asking for the rebate to be considered income.

I know the federal energy conservation rebates in terms of whether they are income or not are specific to everything other than water so the argument seems to be that water conservation doesnt apply (which seems silly considering its the worlds most valuable resource).

Can any tax experts weigh in on this?

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