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Choosing Synthetic Grass for a Commercial or Residential Dog Run

Synthetic grass has been around since the 1960s. The first synthetic grasses were nothing more than indoor/outdoor carpet. Modern synthetic grass is now generations away from the original stuff. Today, synthetic grass is composed of a durable backing that is perforated to allow for drainage. It has "yarn fibers", generally made of polypropylene, to mimic the look and feel of real blades of grass and is generally one to two inches tall. Also, most modern synthetic grasses come with "thatch zones", consisting of curly fibers that help to keep the synthetic blades of grass standing upright. Often the thatch will be a different shade of green, or even brown, to give the grass an even more realistic look.

Recently, synthetic grass has come in to its own as a true dog run alternative to natural grass; this is true for both homeowners and pet care facility owners. Synthetic grass dog runs have many advantages over the more traditional types of dog runs made of natural grass, cement, dirt, mulch, or pea gravel. First and most importantly, synthetic grass will not irritate, cut or get stuck in dog's paws. Secondly, synthetic grass won't turn yellow or die due to urine exposure. Additionally, dogs won't bring dust, dirt, or mud into your home or facility. Also, almost all dogs gravitate towards synthetic grass and use it as if it were the real thing.

There are also numerous environmental advantages to synthetic grass. There is no need to mow or water which helps to conserve water and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Also, synthetic grass needs no fertilizers or pesticides. Additionally, the top synthetic grass manufacturers produce artificial grasses with resource renewable backings.

Synthetic grass can be installed indoors and outside, over ground or over concrete. To install over ground the existing grass/vegetation must be completely removed. Next a 3" base of crushed rock is installed. Then the synthetic grass can be rolled (it comes in rolls just like carpet) over the base and trimmed to size. There are two options for securing the artificial grass around the perimeter of the area. The first is to nail non-corrosive spikes around the perimeter every foot or so. The second is to create a wooden perimeter using 4" x 4"s and then nail the artificial grass to the underside of the wooden perimeter to discourage dogs from digging at the edges. There is very little chance of a dog being able to dig through middle of an artificial grass dog run. The last step is to evenly spread sand over the entire area and brush it to the bottom of the backing of the artificial grass. The sand acts as a ballast to keep the artificial grass from shifting and it also keeps it from wrinkling if the artificial grass is exposed to rapid and extreme temperature and humidity changes.

When installing over concrete a drainage blanket is needed. A drainage blanket is a thin, channeled layer below the synthetic grass and above the concrete that will collect urine and liquids that drain through the perforated holes in the backing of synthetic grass. The drainage blanket then directs the liquids to a predetermined, permanent drainage area.

Cleaning feces is actually easier on Synthetic grass than natural grass since the synthetic grass "blades" are stiffer than the real thing. At times, especially during hot summer months and times of drought, the artificial grass will have to be attended to due to odor. There are a couple of options for odor control. The first is to rinse the dog run area at least once a day. If this doesn't control the odor there are sprays that generally work very well. Some manufacturers mix antimicrobial agents into the resin that makes the yarn during the manufacturing process, this can be effective but it also adds significantly to the cost of the product. Additionally, yarn using built-in, antimicrobial agents compromise the long-term integrity and longevity of the yarn.

There are some important considerations when choosing synthetic grass. Make sure that the grass will be dense enough to handle all the dogs that will be on the dog run area. Artificial grass density is measured in ounces per square yard. A 40 oz. synthetic grass product would work fine on a small dog run area used by one or two 20 lb. dogs, but would not be ideal for a commercial dog run. A product with a density of at least 60 ounces per square yard is highly recommended. Additionally, choosing a shorter blade length closer to 1" in height will help keep the synthetic grass from being matted down due to heavy paw traffic. It is also important to choose the right artificial grass company. There are hundreds of artificial grass companies in the industry, it is recommended that you choose one that manufactures their own grass instead of reselling another company's product. Be sure to choose a company that guarantees that their product contains no heavy metals such as lead or other caustic materials. Most importantly, be sure to choose a company that is well-established and has been in business for at least as long as the warranty that they offer on their procuct.

Hundreds of Pet Care facilities have opted to install synthetic grass in the last decade. Current and potential clients appreciate that synthetic grass dog runs are easy on their pets' paws and help to keep their dogs clean. Synthetic grass is more expensive than natural grass, but when landscaping fees, water bills and re-sodding are taken into account a synthetic dog run area will pay for itself within 5 years and will more than likely bring in a substantial amount of new clientele.

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