There are very few aromas that evoke the British summertime better than the smell of freshly cut grass, but keeping a lawn in tip-top condition involves plenty of work.
If your garden has gone from bowling green to jungle, or worse still, quagmire, after eighteen months of less than favourable weather, and you've had enough of trimming, cutting and feeding your grass, perhaps it's time to consider an artificial alternative.
Synthetic grass has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, and there are now a number of highly effective and natural-looking options available.
Choosing your turf
Assuming you are after a natural look for your artificial lawn, it's best to opt for a British-made product. The reason for this is that many cheaper, imported products are not specifically designed for the UK market, and the colour may be too dark or too light.
Remember that very few real lawns are perfect, and so choosing an artificial product that also has a few fake 'flaws' will give your grass a more realistic finish. The best products feature more than one shade of green, a mixture of 'blade' types, and even a thatch layer, which adds depth. More expensive options will generally feel softer, while the cheaper types tend to contain more polypropylene, making them tougher to the touch.
There are also options available that allow pet urine to drain through the surface, so there's no need to worry about staining.
Laying your grass
Thankfully, laying artificial grass is a reasonably simple DIY job, and it can be laid over almost any smooth surface. You will need to prepare the ground properly if you are to create the right effect. Removing the existing grass with a turf cutter or turf spade is the first job, after which you will need to continue digging down until you reach a good, solid base.
Once the top layer of earth is removed, add a layer of hard core and use a weed membrane and sand to level things off before you begin. Timber edging will ensure your sand infill is retained, and allow you to fix the grass to the wood. You can either leave it exposed, with the grass laying level with the top, or slightly lower than the synthetic turf to allow you to wrap the grass around the edge for a natural feel.
Thereafter, laying your lawn is much like wallpapering a wall. Be sure to lay each section so that the pile falls in the same direction (essential for a natural look). Overlap the perimeter with about four inches of grass, which can be cut to fit, and where two lengths join, overlap them slightly, then cut one carefully so as not to leave a gap. Mixing the fibres together by hand will help to hide the join.
Your synthetic grass should come with jointing seaming tape, which lies below the grass, and allows you to fix it in place. This can simply be slid underneath the seams once you know where they are going to be. With glue applied to the tape, you can then carefully stick down the sections, but remember to either walk along the join a number of times, or use weights, to activate the bonding and keep the joins flat.
If all that sounds too much, however, many artificial grass suppliers will happily come and do the job for you for a price.
So if you are tired of muddy patches, brown grass and mowing, it's worth considering your artificial options - get the right product and you'll enjoy a maintenance-free lawn for years to come.
Have you opted for artificial grass, or are you determined to keep it real? Leave your comments below...