According to the Synthetic Turf Council, the total value of installed synthetic turf systems in North America was expected to be approximately $2.7 billion USD in 2020. You probably know someone who has at least considered installing artificial turf for their outdoor ground cover—but converting a yard or outdoor space to artificial turf is a big job. Oftentimes, prospective artificial turf customers fail to consider both the pros and cons of installing artificial turf. It’s easy to be distracted by the prospect of never needing to mow your yard or suffer dirty and muddy paws ever again.
Natura is a hybrid turf that lets grass grow through it, so you can keep your natural grass yard while enjoying the benefits of artificial turf for dogs. We wanted to compare the processes between installing Natura and traditional synthetic turfs so you can understand what you’re getting into, whatever you choose to install in your outdoor space.
Traditional artificial turfs are extremely convenient and pristine looking. With artificial turf, your yard can look lush and green year-round, without the same upkeep a natural yard requires. With that being said, artificial turfs require a wholesale change to your outdoor space from the ground up—literally.
What Lies Beneath Fake Grass for Dogs?
When installing artificial turf, it’s important to have a compacted and well-draining substrate beneath the turf. A proper substrate will prevent compacting or movement beneath the turf and will allow moisture to drain through and away from the turf itself.
Most artificial turf installers will use one of several materials as a substrate. Sand, crumb rubber, decomposed granite, or gravel will all work. The type of substrate you use will depend on your environment, availability, and use-case. In any case, the material you use must be large enough to allow water drainage but small enough to prevent uneven spots in your artificial turf.
A substrate with varying-size particles up to ¾ inches in diameter is usually the best option. Usually, this base rock is up to 6 inches thick. Imagine the amount of material it would take to cover your outdoor space in 6 inches of gravel. The material, transportation, and labor add up quickly—and it’s this extra labor that contributes to the sticker shock often associated with artificial turf installations.
Laying artificial turf on bare dirt is never a good idea. Without a proper base rock substrate, you won’t have adequate drainage, the surface won’t be even, and you risk damaging the turf with regular use. The money saved on initial installation will be quickly spent on costly fixes and reinstallation when the turf inevitably fails.
The Artificial Turf Layer Cake
Artificial turfs require more than just a well-draining base rock substrate to perform at their best. Additionally, a geotextile weed barrier is essential to the longevity of your turf installation. If a weed barrier is omitted, stray weeds—deposited by the wind or through root development from an area adjacent to your turf installation—will grow through your substrate, in turn creating uneven spots and compromising your turf installation. Furthermore, a layer of sand is often utilized just below the turf itself to even out the surface and keep your outdoor space level. In the turf itself, a rubber infill is used to mimic the properties of natural dirt.
Staples are often used to attach the turf to the ground, resulting in permanent metal spikes being strewn across your yard space, potentially causing injury. Additionally, artificial turf installations must be bordered by solid edging so weeds don’t grow through sideways and so the substrate doesn’t move. This edging is typically composed of concrete.
With the infill, the turf, the leveling material, the substrate, the weed barrier, the staples, and the concrete edging, it’s no wonder artificial turf is seen as a luxury. With that much material over your existing outdoor space, artificial turf also presents itself as a relatively permanent decision. Should you decide to redo your outdoor space, you’re then faced with the prospect of removing the turf and all the layers beneath it to finally reach the soil below—a tremendous time and labor sink.
Natura, A Lightweight Approach to Artificial Turf
Natura installs right on top of your yard without any infill, leveling material, substrate, or weed barrier. Natura is designed to work with your existing soil to give you the benefits of both natural and artificial grass. We don’t think you should do more than you have to. Your outdoor ground cover doesn’t have to be a big, time-consuming, and expensive project.
Simply prep the ground, spread seed, and attach Natura to bare dirt or sparse grass with the included biodegradable anchors. Natural grass will grow through Natura, and the artificial turf blades will separate paws and shoes from mud and dirt. We’re certainly not knocking the decision to install traditional fake turf, but it’s a costly, time-consuming, and difficult-to-reverse decision that you should understand before getting into it. Natura is easy, cost-effective, and lets you keep your natural yard. Both products—Natura and more traditional synthetic turfs—have their uses. Artificial turf has come a long way in the past decade, and it’s no wonder so many folks, from pet businessowners to homeowners, go the fully-synthetic route.
Natura is designed for pet owners or pet businessowners who don’t want to spend the time and money to turn their outdoor space to an artificial turf layer cake. Again, it’s for those who don’t want to do more than they have to. This lightweight approach certainly has its benefits. With only a permeable turf layer between paws and the dirt, dogs can smell the ground as they would in a normal yard, occupying them with harmless and calming stimuli. Unlike fully synthetic artificial turf installations, no special chemicals or machinery are necessary to maintain Natura; just treat it like a normal yard.
We think there’s enough room in the world for Natura and traditional artificial turfs. We hope we’ve imparted some useful knowledge about traditional artificial turf and Natura, the lightweight alternative. Whatever you decide for your outdoor ground cover for dogs, it’s important that you know what your decision entails.
If you’d like to learn more about Natura and how it presents the simple solution to your outdoor ground cover needs, visit our products page.