The History of Artificial Grass
Artificial grass is the most popular garden trend in the UK today, but did you know that its history dates back to the 1960s? This synthetic turf has evolved over the years from a hardy sports surface into a luxurious landscaping material, illustrating just how far we’ve come in terms of engineering and technology. And as we are currently working with third-generation artificial grass in Ripon, we can create low-maintenance lawns that we never thought possible.
In this complete guide to the history of artificial grass, we’ll take you on a journey over six decades, from where it all began in North Carolina, to when Astro Turf first made its name in Texas, and finally to where we are today.
Who Invented Artificial Grass?
Records show that it was David Chaney, the Dean of North Carolina State University, who created the first notable artificial grass some 60-years ago with a team researchers from the Research Triangle Park (RTP), the largest research facility in the United States. In 1964, they installed their creation on a recreation area at school in Providence, Rhode Island, but it was only two years later, in 1966, that the material came to public prominence.
The Astrodome in Houston Texas, a state-of-the-art sports stadium and home of the Houston Astros, a major league baseball team, reached out to Chaney and his team to come up with a solution for the nation’s first covered stadium. They had attempted to use natural grass to landscape the playing field, but this failed miserably due to the lack of direct sunlight, and the grass died before the end of the first season.
Welcome To Astro Turf
During the second half of the 1965 baseball season, the Astros played on a painted green surface while manufacturers Monsanto, an agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology company, raced to produce sufficient artificial grass for the stadium. It took until the summer of 1966 for them to completely refurbish the playing field with “ChemGrass”, a short pile synthetic grass made from nylon polyamide, which apart from being green, didn’t look or feel like real grass at all.
It was costly to make and install, and it was rough to the touch, causing friction burns when baseball players would slide across the surface, but it was functional and aesthetically pleasing, and as such, its makers hailed it a success. Monsanto later rebranded ChemGrass as Astro Turf, after the Astrodome Stadium, and its generic trademark went on to become the name used for any artificial grass manufactured worldwide.
In 1969, the Chicago White Sox became the first major league baseball team to install Astro Turf in an outdoor stadium and, by the mid-1970s, it was commonplace in multi-purpose stadiums across the United States. But as artificial grass was so much harder than real grass, it caused wear-and-tear on the player's knees and elbows, so much so that it shortened the careers of some players and provoked many stadiums to return to the natural alternative. With this in mind, manufacturer's headed back to the drawing board.
Second Generation Artificial Grass
By the 1980s, manufacturers released second-generation artificial grass made from polypropylene (PP) with long fibres and sand infills. It was more realistic than Astro Turf, less expensive to make, and it created a more natural surface for ball games. Hockey stadiums around the world installed 2G synthetic turf and, for low-contact sports, it worked exceptionally well but, with sand at its base, it was rough on players skin, much like sandpaper, and just as uncomfortable as its predecessor. Because of this, second-generation turf was deemed unsuitable for rugby and football stadiums, so it was back to the drawing board once again for artificial grass designers that wanted to create the perfect landscaping material for all sporting activities.
Third Generation Artificial Grass
It took another 15-years or so for manufacturers to get it right, and by the mid-1990s, third-generation artificial grass had reached our shores. Softer, stronger, and more aesthetically pleasing than previous models, it had longer fibres made of polyethylene (PE), a raw material that is gentle on the skin, and granulated rubber infills to prevent the sandpaper effect. It was an immediate success with professional sports teams across the globe, who could slide, tackle, and sprint across third-generation imitation grass without damaging their joints or ripping their skin to shreds.
This new fake grass allowed players to get their foot under the ball, much like they could on real grass, and the ball behaved just as it would on real turf. This made it the perfect landscaping material for American Soccer and Premier League Football Teams on both sides of the pond, and it was finally approved by FIFA in 2015 when it was used at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.
3G artificial turf tested and approved by the FIFA Quality Programme for Football Turf is deemed suitable for professional games, as long as it meets the organisations safety, durability, and playing performance standards. Football stadiums across the country, and indeed the world, have turned to low-maintenance synthetic turf, and we are in no doubt that its popularity will continue to grow in this sector.
21st Century Artificial Grass
Artificial Grass has come a long way in recent years and, while it took almost four decades to perfect the landscaping material we have come to know and love today, we’ve finally made it. It’s realistic, easy to maintain, and it can save us time and money when it comes to gardening, and so it is perhaps no surprise that the demand for synthetic turf has grown by as much as 50 per cent since 2010.
Homeowners across the UK are turfing-out their real turf in favour of this luxurious, low-maintenance lawn fabric, as are businesses, landlords, property developers, architects, and schools. It’s no longer reserved for sporting surfaces, but revered for its landscaping properties, and you only have to look at some of the unique garden designs that it has created, to understand why it is the gardening trend of our generation.
The beauty of this landscaping material is its versatility, and if you are thinking of using it to upgrade your outdoor space, here are our top reasons why you should choose artificial grass for your garden:
- 1) Artificial Gras Saves Time
We live in a fast-paced world, and as such, many of us have little time to spend on ourselves. With imitation grass, you’ll never have to water, weed, fertilise, or mow your lawn again, so you can spend more time entertaining and doing the things you love most, and less time taking care of your garden.
- 2) It Could Also Save You Money
With no watering required, synthetic grass could save you money on your annual water bills. It doesn’t need mowing, so you can pack away your electric lawnmower for good, and save on your electricity bills too. With no costly pesticides, fertilisers, or weed killers to buy, you’ll have more money to spend on yourself and your family, and once your initial investment is paid off, you’ll have nothing to pay for years.
- 3) It’s Child-Safe and Pet-Friendly
3G artificial grass is both child-safe and pet-friendly, and so it is perfect for family homes. It provides a soft surface for summer picnics and playtimes, and as it doesn’t attract bugs and creepy crawlies, your little ones are less likely to get bitten or stung. Dogs love playing on synthetic turf, and as long as you clean up after every pee, you’ll never have to worry about unpleasant odours.
- 4) You Can Install It On Any Surface
Fake grass is as versatile as it is practical, and with the right sub-base, you can install it on any surface, including hard surfaces such as concrete, tiles, paving slabs, and wooden decking. It’s ideal for those with limited outdoor space, and you can even install it on balconies and rooftop terraces to create a stylish entertainment area.
- 5) Modern Astro Turf is UV Stabilised and Pre-Punched for Drainage
Artificial grass is a lifestyle investment for domestic and commercial premises and, when you invest in a modern landscaping material, you can be confident that it will retain its natural colour thanks to UV protection. High-quality products are pre-punched with drainage holes to allow rainwater and other liquids to drain through the grass and the sub-base below, so you’ll never have to worry about waterlogging or muddy puddles.
- 6) Artificial Grass Looks Amazing Year-Round
Lush, luxurious, and evergreen, imitation grass looks fabulous all year round. Over 60-years in the making, it is as close to real grass as we’re ever likely to get, and if you are looking to landscape your world with a low-maintenance material that never fails to impress, now is the perfect time to invest in technologically advanced turf.
To find out more about next-generation artificial grass, contact Artificial Super Grass today. We’ve been landscaping gardens in Ripon for over a decade, and we look forward to sharing our experience with you.