It’s time to find the best artificial grass company for your garden
So, you’ve decided that artificial grass is right for you but like anyone entering uncharted territory, how do you choose the best artificial grass company to do the job? Installing artificial grass is a long-term investment so you’ll want to spend your money wisely.
There are lots of companies offering an artificial grass installation service, so you’re probably thinking, how do I choose the best artificial grass company and avoid the bad artificial grass installers?
There is a lot of information on the internet, much of it is written by companies promoting their product…..so be aware that you aren’t being ‘sold’ their product.
If you’re still not sure about what you are looking for, find a local company that offers a full range of grasses. A company with lots of experience that can advise you on the best product that will meet your needs. But how do you choose that artificial grass company?
How can I tell it’s quality artificial grass?
Artificial grass is generally made from two types of fibres – polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) fibres. The difference between various grasses arises from the following factors: PE is the softer, more flexible fibre that is used as the longer, green fibres in artificial grass.
The PP is stiffer and is ‘texturised’ to make it curly so it can be used as the brown ‘thatch’. Theses ‘yarns’ are stitched into a backing cloth that is then coated in rubber.
The most recent and relevant advances are mainly manufacturing improvements:
- Shaped yarns – by introducing a ‘profile’ to the yarn it becomes up to 60% more resilient
- Stitch rate – the more modern machines can stitch the rows of grass fibres closer. This allows a more ‘dense’ grass by packing more stitches into the same area of backing. The more grass, the more it supports itself and retains its shape.
- Matt yarns – These are less ‘shiny’ than standard grass fibres. They look more realistic.
Artificial Grass generally varies only in:
- The length of the long, green PE fibres
- The quantity of fibres per stitch
- The number of stitches per 10cm (or stiches per msq)
- The stitch gauge (how close the lines of stiches are)
- The Dtex (thickness) of the fibres
- The profile of the PE yarn
By varying these factors, artificial grass can be designed for different purposes. For instance, a short, dense pile with a shaped PE yarn will be best for hard wearing gardens.
If you’re looking for hard wearing and resistant grass, choose shaped yarns (c-shape is the strongest) with a high amount of grass fibres packed in. If you want something that looks and feels totally realistic, that won’t be exposed to heavy wear for longer, choose flat fibres.
A good company with a full range of grass will be able to show you the difference and a responsible company will have their grass independently tested in a laboratory. Ask for certificates of test results – they should have them!
Should I be paying a deposit?
It isn’t unreasonable for a provider to request a deposit. This should only cover the cost of the grass that they will cut to your size (which can’t then be re-sold). Any more than 30% is too much.
Be aware that you are lending your money to someone – are they credit worthy? For example, there was once a company that collected an 80% deposit from a customer and then went into administration. Fortunately for the customer, the job was done before they went bump, but it was a terrible install and the customer has no come back.
Think of your deposit as the loan that it is. Is the company/trader credit worthy? If you are not sure, don’t pay up front. The company should have credit checking systems, ask them to provide you with a credit report on their business. Check that the quote details match the credit check details.
What about the base and installation?
The base is just as important as the grass! A nice grass on poor base works, with bad joins is a disaster.
A lot of companies will remove your turf and only lay sand as a ‘blinding’ level – to get a smooth finish, without a stabilising layer of stone. It is the stone that provides the secure base to the system; the sand is only used to ‘smooth’ the finish and provide a flat surface for the grass to be laid on.
Timber edges are okay, particularly if they are class 4 treated for ground contact, but many installers use roofing baton, which is not pressure treated and will only last a year or so in ground contact. The best edgings are plastic – like the grass they will not rot.
Can your fitter join the grass well? A bad join will ruin the realist look of your lawn. Are the company’s fitters experienced?
Make sure the quote includes at least 50mm depth of stone, and the removal of the grass. When the materials arrive – check there is plenty of stone!
Ask to see a couple of local jobs the company have fitted, check the joins, ask the customers about their experience and products.
Are they using plastic edges? Plastic edging is the only one that will last for sure!
What about the guarantee?
A long guarantee is a great sign that the company believes in its products and service. BUT, the guarantee is only worth what the company can deliver. Will a sole trader even be around in 5 years to resolve your guarantee claim? Is the company you use even going to be in business in 5 years?
We know of two artificial grass companies that went bump at the end of last year, their customers’ guarantees are now worthless, any deposits they held are now lost. Both the companies are now re-trading with the same trading name, but with a different limited company structure.
Can you trust a guarantee that provides cover for a period longer than the company has been trading?! Satisfy yourself that they will still be around when the guarantee expires. Ask them for a credit report on their company – this will tell you if they are financially stable.
Assume that the sole trader (one-man band) will not be around in 12 months.
Polyethene backing is better for pets than rubber?
Both these products are inert and interact just the same with pet urine. The most important thing with pets is to be able to flush the urine through the grass and away into the base works. In the U.K. we are lucky enough to have plenty of rain to do this. The backing is not a factor.
This myth is promoted by US-based manufacturers who have always used PE backing because they had a better infrastructure. While PE backing may be slightly stronger and suited to high-use sports pitches, it is no better for pet urine.
Nylon is the new wonder yarn?
Nylon has been around for years. It is very strong and has a higher boiling point than polyethylene. It was used for hockey pitches, and is durable but stiff. If you live in a country that regularly has temperatures more than 40 degrees then its technical properties may have some advantage.
This myth is promoted by the few manufactures that have invested in the older nylon stitching equipment. Nylon is an old material that will find few followers in modern times.
Top tips for choosing an artificial grass company
Do they offer a written guarantee? will they be around to honour it?
Check their testimonials – ignore their website ones, look for at least 15 genuine Facebook reviews
Ask to visit a local install they did 5 years ago! – were they trading then? How does the grass look?
Ask for a credit report on the company – they should have their own credit checking software
Don’t pay more than a 30% deposit, and only when you are SURE they are credit worthy!
Visit the company – Do they have:
- A large range of products
- Indoor racked storage
- A cutting machine
- A showroom
- A team of experienced staff to support you
Remember that a well-installed, good quality artificial grass will last you for many years. Don’t choose the cheapest, choose the best value!
This blog has been written by Tim Collier, Technical Director at Cheshire Artificial Grass Ltd.
Tim has 25 years of civil engineering and landscaping experience. He fitted the first commercial artificial grasses in schools in 2005 and has been working in the industry ever since. Tim also runs the Artificial Grass Fitters Forum, sharing his expertise and providing advice to installers all over the UK.
You can contact Tim on 01625 860 601