At the time we moved into our house last fall, we knew we’d have to do something with our small backyard to make it more hospitable, but we also wanted to pick a solution that would work for the whole family.
What did our yard look like originally? Take a look for yourself on the right. Yep, dirt, plain dirt. Easy to maintain and water-free, but not great for the kids to play (read “fall”) on, and literally dirty /dusty. Part of our yard was also covered with large tiles, again not a very forgiving landing area for falls. This makes me wonder, why do kids fall so often when their center of gravity is so much lower than ours? I must have missed the physics class explaining this strange phenomenon…
Living in the San Diego area, where water is an expensive and precious commodity, makes you think twice about installing and maintaining a lush green lawn for financial and environmental reasons, so we quickly crossed out that option. We then considered wood chips. Since they use them so often for playgrounds, why not for our yard? I personally hate how wood chip terrain instantly takes away your option to walk barefoot or with sandals. Ever tried it? Don’t. Then, there was the option of cement, and the possibility to make it look like paved stones. It does look nice but I was worried it would be slippery when wet, and the idea of having my whole yard paved seemed a little too urban-living for me.
Our last reasonable option and final choice was artificial grass. Again, living in the San Diego area makes shopping for this quite a challenge, considering the large quantity of suppliers available. So we looked around on the internet, including Kudzu (I like to use it to quickly obtain customer reviews), saved the many flyers and promotions we got in the mail, and did our homework.
Our ultimate pick was a company called San Diego Turf. Why this one above all others? Many factors influenced us, but mostly the fact that the company has little overhead and can afford to sell the materials at a lower price than other suppliers, some of which are franchises of larger companies. On top of that, the customer service was excellent. While other companies didn’t seem too eager to chase our order (I don’t guess it – who doesn’t want to capture business opportunities in a down economy?), San Diego Turf stayed on top of our request and made the purchasing experience easy. The owner advised us on the best lawn type to meet our individual needs and explained what it took to prep the ground. Finally, it only took one week between the day we got the quote and the day we got the lawn installed (8-hour job). Talk about instant gratification!
So what does our yard look like today? Drum roll… Glance to the right! Pretty nice, huh? We now have 750 square feet of artificial grass, a smaller bank account, and a new appreciation for our backyard! How good did it feel to look at this new lawn? One word: irresistible! I personally felt the strong urge to go out and literally roll all over our new green yard, just like a young puppy who has been kept inside for too long. You may think I’m nuts, but I’m not the only one to felt that way in our household. When my kids caught sight of this new lawn for the first time, they shrieked with joy, took off their shoes and socks in seconds and leaped out of the patio door to run around the yard in continuous circles. I guess artificial grass will do that to you! Hmm, I thought that stuff didn’t emit any toxic fumes?
Here’s what we learned through this whole process:
- Choose what will work best for your family, in the short and long term. This is a costly decision and you don’t want to have to regret it.
- Artificial grass doesn’t look artificial. Recent materials actually look very realistic. There are many types of materials available and it’s a good idea to do your research and pick what will work best for you (color, length, texture, kid or pet friendly, etc)
- The right choice of artificial grass feels very soft and pleasant to walk on, even barefoot. It also apparently helps to cushion the kids’ falls (no crying so far!).
- Artificial grass gets quite hot in the baking sun, but will cool down almost instantly when it gets in the shade.
- Apparently it’s not a water-free solution, as it’s advised to hose it down once in a while to wash off any dirt (if you don’t get any rain for several months in a row like us).
- I suggest you pick a provider who will value your business and offers a great warranty not only on material but also on labor.
Now, I’d write more about our new lawn, but I hear it calling me… Arf!
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