One of the great attractions of an artificial lawn is that it’s a very low-maintenance option. It requires no mowing, watering or re-seeding, and there’s no need to spend money on expensive lawn treatments to keep it looking good.
However, like any investment in the home, an artificial grass lawn will require some occasional maintenance, mainly in the form of light cleaning. In this article, we look at some useful tips for keeping your lawn looking its best.
Whether you install your artificial lawn yourself or whether you use a contractor, it’s important to apply a silica sand dressing. It’s also important to ensure that the grass is perfectly dry when the sand is brushed in so that the sand settles quickly and easily between the fibres. The sand must be dry, too, of course. Its job is to cushion and protect the backing material and to help the fibres themselves to keep returning to an upright position whenever they are flattened down.
For the first 6 to 8 weeks, the sand infill will slowly bed into the structure of the artificial turf. Over this period, you should lightly but regularly brush the grass. This gives your new lawn its best possible start.
Removing Leaf Litter
In the autumn, or after periods of high winds, nearby trees, plants and hedges can shed leaves, twigs or blossom. If these fall onto your lawn and are then left there, they will naturally tend to decompose. This should be avoided because if organic litter is allowed to accumulate in the backing material, it can hamper drainage and create an environment in which small weeds could grow.
The same obviously applies to fallen or windblown seeds, which can lodge amongst the grass fibres and start to germinate.
Fortunately, the solution is simple: periodic light brushing is usually all it takes to prevent the problem. Once or twice a month is usually fine. A gentle going-over with a natural bristle brush will normally be adequate, although a leaf blower will also do a decent job of it. A light plastic rake can be used in the autumn to remove drifts of leaves but be gentle; being too vigorous with a rake could risk damaging or detaching some of the fibres.
A gentle brushing is actually good for your lawn. It will keep the pile in good condition and help to prevent it from flattening. Simply brush against the pile direction to keep the fibres upright and looking their best.
Either when designing your garden, or when pruning growing plants, try to minimise the extent to which branches or hedges overhang your artificial lawn. A sensible pruning at the right time can help to reduce work later on.
The same sort of advice applies to planted borders. A lawn that’s raised above soil borders will help to reduce the risks of dirt being scattered onto it by birds, pets or children. Alternatively, some form of edging barrier can be installed, often as an attractive garden feature, and this will also help to reduce accidental scattering.
Removing Soil, Mud and Dust
If soil does find its way onto an artificial lawn, it’s very easy to deal with. If it’s already dry, then it can simply be swept off. If it’s wet or muddy, the simplest thing is usually to let it dry and then sweep it away. More engrained dirt can be removed using a mild detergent and a hosepipe or pressure washer.
In hot, dry conditions, artificial lawns can get dusty, just as window frames and vehicles can tend to exhibit a build-up of dust. Typically, this requires no action at all because the dust will be gone the next time it rains. However, if a dry spell becomes prolonged, then you might not want to allow too much of a build-up of dust. Again, a light brushing will typically work just fine. Failing that, a brief wash-down with a hose should see the problem solved.
If the ground is well excavated and prepared before your lawn is installed, there should be minimal risk that weeds will grow through the backing fabric. The use of an underlying weed membrane
or shock pad
will also make a big difference. However, if weeds do ever appear, they’re unlikely to present a major problem. Surface-lying seedlings can easily be picked out. If any weeds penetrate from below, you can simply pick off the tops or, for a more comprehensive approach, you can apply an appropriate quantity of water-based weedkiller or moss-killer. If so, you will probably only have to do so once a year; twice at most. Dead weeds and moss can easily be swept away.
If snow becomes compacted into the lawn and forms ice, it risks trapping grass fibres that could then be damaged if you attempt to move the ice by force. The simplest and most sustainable solution is simply to forget about the issue until temperatures start to rise and nature does the job for you. Failing that, wait until the ice begins to soften and then sweep it away.
Food and Other Spills
Dining al fresco is always popular in the summer months and if you’ve invested in a beautiful artificial lawn, it makes sense to enjoy it. However, eating outside brings with it certain hazards. A dropped dollop of ketchup may be no big deal on a natural lawn but prompt action is advisable with artificial turf. A quick treatment with a sponge, soap and water will stop it from drying in and becoming a bigger nuisance. Much the same applies to other consumables: sauces, mustard, relishes, dropped items of food or wine. Good artificial grasses are designed to be robust and to resist staining, but a quick, simple response is still usually the best policy.
Even if you don’t have pets and you have no plans to get one, it’s important to be aware of the risks associated with animal droppings. They could come from a stray cat, a fox or birds flying overhead. However they arrive on your lawn, the advice is essentially the same. Ideally, clear up any mess as quickly as you can, and then clean the area with warm soapy water.
If the area has been left smelling, then you can treat it with a dilute solution of vinegar, with a mild disinfectant or with one of a number of good, commercially-available products. With dog urine, rinse the area regularly to minimise any build-up of smells.
Whilst your artificial lawn can withstand heavy objects such as garden furniture, paddling pools or trampolines, the pile will flatten, just as any natural grass would. However, once the object is removed, the pile will spring back and will improve further with brushing. It is recommended that heavy objects are relocated slightly every few months.
Please note that bicycles, children’s toys, wheelbarrows and wheelchairs are all absolutely fine to use on artificial lawns provided that the lawn has been given a proper top-dressing of silica sand.
Things to Avoid
Beyond what we’ve described above, there will be very little maintenance to do. However, it’s important to bear in mind that an artificial lawn isn’t indestructible. Consequently, if you want to maximise its lifespan and to minimise the need for maintenance or repairs, there are some threats to avoid.
- Broken glass
- Piercing risks from sharp footwear – e.g. studded sports shoes / stilettos
- Regular compression by car or van wheels etc.
- Prolonged contact with metal furniture with sharp or rusty edges
- Direct contact with very hot metal – e.g. a metal barbecue
- Flame or high heat – e.g. cigarette burns; fireworks; hot embers from a bonfire
- Metal rakes / excessively vigorous raking
- Tent pegs (or similar)
- Chewing gum
- Chlorinated water
- Paint / creosote
- Tar / bitumen / oils
- Organic solvents
If the lawn is exposed to chemicals or glues, clean the offending material off as quickly as possible using an appropriate cleaning agent. For example, some oils can be removed using a cloth and mineral spirits. However, it is a good idea to do a small test patch first to check that the cleaning process won’t damage or discolour your grass.
One more item we could consider adding to that list of things to avoid is vacuum cleaners. Modern vacuums are quite powerful and they could pose a risk of picking up fibres from the backing material, or sucking out some of the protective sand dressing. Generally, it’s better to stick with gentler, simpler technologies.
More Advice About Artificial Lawn Care
For more information and advice about caring for an artificial grass lawn, please contact us