Astroturf Industry Shows Steady Growth as Houston Homeowners Give Up on Their Lawns

ASTROTURF INDUSTRY SHOWS STEADY GROWTH AS HOUSTON HOMEOWNERS GIVE UP ON THEIR LAWNS Business is booming in the synthetic grass sector here where the product got its start. One Houston installation firm’s rep tells the Chronicle’s Dianne Cowen he’s scaled up his staff by a factor of 5 since 2013. Nationwide, demand for the green stuff has tripled since 2011 and in order to keep up, production is expected to grow 20 percent over the next 3 years. Multiple strains are now being cultivated: zoysia, Bermuda and even St. Augustine — designed with short and long fibers that when clumped look like the real thing. To townhome owners, it’s an attractive furnishing for their tiny backyards — reports Cowen. Same goes for pet owners whose lawns are suffering from too much trampling. Though for them, there’s some watering involved: a monthly hose-off with a $20 bottle of sanitizer. [Houston Chronicle] Photo of synthetic grass installation: London looks [license]

19 Comment

  • I’m tempted. St. Augustine does not stand up well to even mild foot traffic, though it has other good properties. I wonder if the synthetics are porous enough to drain into the soil, ameliorate runoff and flooding etc. According to the article, maybe not.

  • Apt source for the photo. This trend is well underway in London.

  • It looks like these guys are praying to the Tiny House god, meditating, or awaiting on an oracle to come out of the tiny house and give them the answers to life!

  • Gisgo, my friend did his backyard and yes, it’s very porous and sits on a sand base. It’s in West U and they have strict percentages on non porous materials.

  • Very much considering doing this. Its pretty expensive, but soooo tired of looking at dead spots from dog.

  • It is porous and may not be an issue for a one dog household, but I’ve been around it at dog day care facilities, and I don’t care how much hosing or sanitizing you do, it still sinks of urine.

  • This trend is bad news. I have to think that an actual lawn is much better for water absorption here in a city prone to annual flooding.

  • Did this to my town home’s yard roughly 2 years ago. Great decision. The yard has now become a usable play area for my toddler and the dog. It was either synthetic grass or putting pavers over the whole thing. Used a company called Greenlinks. Excellent, had the install done in 2 days. They removed the blue stone, removed some top soil/clay, installed/refurbished a couple of french drains, installed crushed rock bed, layed down the “carpet”, and filled in with some silica sand infill. Roughly $11 a sqft all in. (They also put in some blackstar gravel in a few areas (A/C unit, garbage can storage, etc).

  • Ugh, that stuff will create nothing but more problems. I’m afraid they will install it at my kid’s school, and it will be a toxic staph incubator in no time.

  • St. Augustine isn’t the only grass to use – try Zoysia and there are other types of grass, I’m sure. We have a combination of wood mulch, crushed granite gravel, and Zoysia in a shady back yard. All surfaces, including the native woodland plants hold up to a parkour dog. Astroturf is tacky.

  • What is this stuff made of? Some astroturf has been linked to cancer…. Petroleum products/chemicals?

  • @Heightsite, it is a safe bet that any plastics you see are derived from hydrocarbons… yes, petroleum. They can make plastics out of other materials, but not the quantity needed for most things, so most products are oil based.

    There will never be a viable substitute… at least not in my lifetime. Besides, tell women that they can’t use makeup anymore, and you can be sure oil will be used for generations to come. So as not to offend anyone, this also applies to men who wear makeup.

    Disclaimer… I work for a petroleum company which also has a chemicals division. :)

  • Glen W-it’s been in the Harvard Elementary school yard for almost 6 years now and no problems.

  • Heightsite- whale oil, giant redwood pulp, baby seal blubber and unwanted puppies. No carcinogens.

  • I’ve seen more than a couple of multi-million dollar homes in West U that have used it (in both side and back yards) and it looks lovely. I bet you’ve driven by some and didn’t even realize. There are a few I was up close to and had to touch them to even tell. I think the newer, more realistic, turf is way less tacky than a goat patch of a lawn. I also have experience with both Zoysia and St. Augustine. No kind of grass will grow under a root-bound 100 year old live oak that isn’t made out of synthetic petroleum bi-products.

  • Try hanging out on a sunny astroturf lawn in the middle of August. It can be a good choice for high traffic areas that dont receive enough sun to support the higher wear resistance of bermuda or zoysia. The real stuff will feel much cooler though…..As this trend catches on, I can’t help but wonder if the Lorax is going to show up.

  • @nmj

    Fair point. They are hot. That said, I’m not hanging out on ANY lawns in August.

  • @HeightsResident, haha imagine ‘astroturf’ made of cellulose like packing peanuts – It would shrink with the first rain, disappear with the second!
    I agree faux sod is HOT (like TREX, et al faux deck boards.) The material is not really attached to the earth so doesn’t get the temperature attenuation benefit.
    Now, what about ants and moles? Do inside-the-loopers not have them? They will create piles and sinkholes that will have your ‘lawn’ looking like the moon in no time.
    I vote no.

  • Unintended consequences: The spectral signature of these turfs is nothing like real, healthy growing vegetation particularity at the near infrared wavelength. This wave length is a major contribution to impervious surface detection. Thus your whole yard will be classified as impervious surface for any gubment that is snooping via satellites and wants to tax you based on your runoff.