The Macleod sisters

Artificial lawn lets you forget yard work

Jennifer and Mark Macleod’s four daughters spend the better part of their summers outside, having picnics and playing soccer on their front lawn.

Jennifer and Mark Macleod’s four daughters spend the better part of their summers outside, having picnics and playing soccer on their front lawn.

And yet Alex, Taylor, Reese and Charlee Macleod rarely come in at the end of the day with grass stains on their clothes, say their parents.

That’s thanks to the family’s artificial lawn, a square patch of forest green turf on Ivany Close in Red Deer’s Inglewood neighbourhood.

“I don’t miss the real grass at all,” said Reese, six. “This is soft on my feet and doesn’t tickle or scratch.”

Putting in a fake front lawn was one of the best decisions they could have made, said Jennifer.

First off, it’s environmentally friendly. There’s no wasting water with sprinklers, no fertilizing with harmful chemicals and no mowing with the gas lawn mover.

Secondly, it’s convenient for the busy family who used to have to lug their lawn mover up a rocky path from their backyard to mow the front lawn.

“Let’s say I don’t exactly have a green thumb,” laughed Jennifer. “This has zero maintenance. I haven’t had to touch it since it was installed. It looks great all the time . . . though maybe a bit bizarre in the spring and winter.”

The lawn was installed by Central Alberta Tile One in Red Deer, a supplier of XGrass synthetic turf products that are manufactured at company headquarters in Dalton, Ga. The Red Deer company has been offering artificial lawn products from putting greens to natural-looking grass for the past three years.

Synthetic lawns have been big in southern hot spots like Phoenix and Palm Springs for the past few decades, said Central Alberta Tile One owner Shannon Moench.

Now they’re gaining popularity around Alberta, where many lawns are brown and dead by the middle of summer.

The lawns that Moench’s company installs are not only eco-conscious but also weather-resistant, pet-friendly, hypo-allergenic and long-lasting.

There are more than a dozen fake lawns in Red Deer, said Moench.

And this year, he already has about 20 or so XGrass jobs scheduled.

While the benefits of these realistic lawns made of robust polyethylene monofilament fibres are multiple, they cost a pretty penny.

The turf runs for about $4 to $6 per square foot, plus the prep work, which varies greatly from job to job, said Moench.

The original grass has to be removed completely, followed by a slight excavation. This is then filled in with a pebble base. Next, the artificial turf with its rubber-like polyolefin backing is rolled out like carpet. It’s seamed, cut and shaped to fit the landscape, and then secured with landscape nails. Lastly, a sand infill is added using a drop seeder.

Depending on the size of the job, the process can take a day or two.

For the Macleods’ little piece of land, it was an affordable option, although it did add up to $2,000, said Jennifer.

She was worried at first the lawn would be noticeably fake and look ridiculous on their small patch of land out front. But she was more than satisfied after they got it.

“People will stop by and touch it. . . . The neighbours joke and yell out to us when we’re outside ‘Working hard on that lawn, guys?’ ” laughed Jennifer.

“You can even vacuum it.”

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