By Andrea Brown Herald Writer
Kids can play on it.
Dogs can poo on it.
Dads don’t have to mow it.
No wonder more homeowners are trading sod for artificial turf.
“It’s glorified carpet,” said Trent Chittick, owner of T.C. Landscaping in Mukilteo. “It was a prediction of mine that it would become wildly popular.”
We’re talking entire front and back yards, not just hobby putting greens.
It has come a long way since its grand debut as AstroTurf in 1966 at the Houston Astrodome indoor stadium for the Houston Astros. AstroTurf, a trademark, became a generic term to describe all brands of the synthetic turf.
AstroTurf was used in the back yard of the “The Brady Bunch” house, but that didn’t stop Marcia or Greg from pushing the lawnmower to cover up the true nature of their grass.
Chittick said quality and designs have improved in recent generations of faux turf. There are different types made for ballfields, residences and pet areas.
All have the same perks: No irrigation. No fertilizing. Low maintenance. And it’s always green. Really green.
That’s a downside to synthetic fibers made to look like living vegetation: It looks fake.
Maybe so, but it beats looking shabby.
“Year-round, I have green grass,” said convert Joe Myers of Everett. “February, March when everybody’s yard looks ugly, mine is green.”
Myers got tired of fighting the crabgrass four years ago and revamped the front lawn.
Now every blade of grass is as manicured as if Edward Scissorhands lives there.
“For me, it is lazy man’s landscaping,” said Myers, a contractor. “I’m pretty particular about my yard. I’m kind of anal.”
Myers doesn’t mow, he blows.
“I just come out and blow it off with my blower,” he said. “Once a year you just come out and fluff it. I throw a weed preventer down. If weeds grow up, they pull right up. It really doesn’t turn into a weed, it’s a little bit of a pop.”
Myers said it saves in labor and lawn care products. “It has already paid for itself,” he said.
Do-it-yourselfers can buy artificial grass at home improvement stores. Home Depot online selections include a 7.5 foot strip of classic fescue for $22.97 to a 12-by-75-foot section of luxury olive green polypropylene with rubber backing for $1,542.85.
Or you can hire an expert to do it. “The average homeowner will spend $4,000 to $8,000,” Chittick said.
Most of the turf is made in Georgia, he said. “They run it on the same machines as they do carpet.”
Buy extra pieces for replacing damaged spots, he advises, because dye lots vary. It’s not like it can grow back.
Natural enemy: hot stuff. It melts. “The worst is fireworks,” Chittick said.
Legend has it that a light rig fell from the “Brady Bunch” set and burned a small hole in the turf. Tiger’s doghouse was put over it and the show went on.
Myers’ biggest thug: a mole.
“I had a mole here about a year ago,” Myers said. “He came out, bumped around a little bit and then went back to the flower beds.”
The side yard stretch where his fake grass is bordered by real thing calls for some careful mowing, but accidents happen. When the neighbor’s mower accidentally crossed the line, it was minor compared to the mole.
“I fixed it,” Myers said.
The shiny green yard is a roadside attraction for passers-by.
“They get out of cars and take pictures,” Myers said. “They bend down and feel it. It is pretty comical. It is very entertaining.”
Take off your shoes. Step on it. He doesn’t mind people or pets walking on his grass.
“The dogs love it. They roll on it,” he said. “I’m going to do it to my back yard. I’d never go back to grass.”
Andrea Brown; 425-339-3443; firstname.lastname@example.org.