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Artificial Grass: 8 Easy Steps to Follow Before You Buy

Nov 20, 2007
Follow these 8 easy steps and your project will go off without a hitch!

Grab a pen and pad of paper so you can take a few notes and write your thoughts down while we guide you through capturing the vision of your new, low maintenance dream lawn, landscape or putting green.

1. What does the area look like to you when it's finished?

To help you visualize, you might get a hold of garden and landscape magazines and flip through them. Go to home shows to see the exhibits, visit garden and landscape websites and watch programs on TV to help stimulate ideas! Even driving around the local area to see what you are drawn to in other landscape designs can help you build a pallet of ideas upon which to draw up your wish list for your new project.

Thinking things through before you call for an estimate will help you describe to your designer or contractor exactly what you want in the area and, most importantly, it will help them to visualize appropriate solutions to fit your wants and the site's needs - they are, after all, there to help put their expertise and know how to work for YOU to help build YOUR dream project.

To locate a professional designer in your area, check online with the APLD - Assoc of Professional Landscape Designers for someone near you, in the US.

Important items to consider that can affect artificial grass cost of installation:

A. Access to the job site - stairs, slopes and other obstructions create delays and increase labor charges

B. The site's preparation needs will determine almost 30% of the cost of your job. Demolition, excavation, grading and additional structures should be considered in your budget

C. What are the high traffic patterns of the area - will you need to add walkways, a sitting wall, or maybe a new deck or stone patio?

1. Do you see any landscape elements you wish to change such as the location or size of lawn or garden areas or perhaps the addition or removal of irrigation systems, drainage, planters, gas or propane BBQ/Grills, fireplaces, lighting or water features?

2. Look at every aspect of the job site - are there any items you should add to your list that need to be repaired, replaced or could use some renovation? Again, write these items down on your wish list to discuss with your designer or contractor

a. Does your area drain well - could it use improvement?
Artificial grass installers normally provide full services including excavation, drainage, and the installation and modification of your landscape needs

b. Renovations can pose some interesting challenges - keep them in mind! Demolition and removal costs can add dollars in time, labor, hauling, container and dump fees.

To reduce your out-of-pocket expenses, you might invest a bit of sweat-equity in the project. Find out what you can do to help prepare the site for the contractor; it might be as simple as removing an existing lawn area.

3. Learn more about artificial grass materials, how they are made, their uses, typical installation guidelines and any local design or building codes that would require specific action on your part.

As an example, some home owner and merchant (retail and office building) associations require that you submit plans for new projects and gain approval prior to construction.

a. For starters, check with your local water provider and see if they offer rebates to property owners that opt-in to replace irrigated areas for draught resistant plants and artificial lawn materials for natural grass. You can locate that information online on ASGi Water Rebate Program Pages.

b. No state or county in the US limits the use of artificial grass for landscape or sports use - if you have restrictions, they will be from local organizations that mandate design guidelines for your property. Check with your home owners' or merchants' association to see if they have published guidelines for you to follow and can provide you access to online or printed materials; some cities have "design guidelines" you must follow, especially in historic and merchant districts.

Many may request to see samples of job materials and a detailed plans from your contractor or designer. Make sure you ask for samples and budget time in your schedules if you need to respond to such requests.

4. Get familiar with standard installation guidelines for artificial grass and synthetic turf materials manufactured and used for lawns, landscape and putting greens for your area, so you can make an educated decision of which solution and provider to pick. You can download a complimentary copy of the ASGi Standard Installation Guidelines at the end of the article.

a. Artificial grass materials are typically sold and marketed by professional installers (contractors) as "systems" of various components and materials integrated together to provide the final look, form and function needed to achieve your project's goals. Much like a deck, patio or even a pool is engineered and specified using several different types of processes, job materials and 3rd party equipment, an artificial grass installation is more than just the beautiful green blades you see on top after the job is completed.

A professional installer or designer will always consider your local site and soil conditions, environment and weather (rain or snow fall) and use of the area before determining the final specification for your custom project. Without a physical site inspection and an eye on the vision of what you're trying to achieve, it would be next to impossible for a professional to provide you a "ball-park" quote, over the phone.

You can easily research the uses and download a copy of standard industry construction guidelines for artificial grass at ASGi - the Association of Synthetic Grass Installers website.

5. Shop for a designer or contractor that is familiar with the installation of synthetic grass and artificial turf. Invite several professionals to your site so that you will have contrast and comparison information to use to complete your decision

a. Many states require builders to maintain active licenses to legally contract to install artificial grass products for lawns, landscape and putting greens. You can check with your local builders exchange or license bureau for more specific information for your area or go to ASGi's US State Contractor's License Board Index another source of qualified, licensed operators online is ServiceMagic, who pre-screens for appropriate licensing, bonds and insurance.

6. Ask to see your prospective contractor's local work. As with any construction project - there is as much of an art in the workmanship as the craftsmanship of any job.

Ask for contact information on references. Take the time to personally check their references and their workmanship, up close and in person. Arrange for an onsite visit of several installations.

a. For business reference checks, at no cost to you, contact the Better Business Bureau - even if a company is not a member, the BBB may have information for you, as well as having referrals for local licensed contractors in your area.

7. Before you move forward with any contractor, get your agreement in writing, signed and dated by both parties. Though a handshake is often considered a legal binding agreement, it's terribly hard to remember, in the heat of a dispute, who said what to whom and literally impossible to prove. Written, executed contracts and change orders, clearly describing the work, labor, materials and services to be provided are your right, under law - don't give that right away. They also serve as a great reminder of what was intended and your proof in the event there is a dispute that requires arbitration:

a. Many states require the licensed contractor to carry insurance for general liability (in the event of an accident made to property or goods while on your job site), workman's compensation coverage (for any personal injury that could occur while working on your project) and hold a bond (in the event the contractor defaults and doesn't not complete the job).

You have every right to ask to see verification of these insurance policies and any license required by law. The name on the contractor's license should match the business or personal name of the license holder, insurance policies, contract and who you are paying. No one is allowed to "borrow" or "lend" a license.

8. Set a realistic budget - professionally installed projects will cost from 40 to 60% more than "do-it-yourself" projects for valid reasons.

The professionals not only bring the experience and expertise, they bring the right staff, power equipment, tools and materials to get the job done right the first time.

Don't compromise your project's success, shop for the right construction partner for you and strike a fair bargain based upon your budget and what feels comfortable for you to invest in your dream project. A seasoned artificial turf installer will bring the right tools and materials and the expertise and experience to properly and professionally install your project for your enjoyment.
About the Author
COMPLIMENTARY full-color, installation, design and buyers guides are available online along with RESOURCES TO REBATES, STUDIES, NEWS AND photo gallery of real world installations and designs at http://www.asgi.us. Trial Subscription to ASGi ONLiNE for industry professionals.
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