Synthetic turf, also known as “fake grass” was invented in the 1960’s in order to create a more ecological and easy to maintain lawns for those who want to conserve water or want to not have to perform the ongoing maintenance associated with upkeep of a traditional yard. Artificial turf also became quite popular as a choice for sporting fields where continual wear and tear makes upkeep difficult. Indoor stadiums that would not have adequate sunlight to keep grass growing naturally became an obvious choice for the use of synthetic grass. While there are many different uses for this type of landscaping and as many motivations for its installation as there are uses, the manufacturing process that results in the actual carpeting of synthetic turf that is installed is an interesting process that most people are completely unfamiliar with. So how is synthetic turf made?
The process begins with the combination of clear plastic pellets and green colored plastic pellets. The actual color of the final product will depend on the colors of the pellets that are chosen at the start of the process, and different colors are utilized in order to give a more natural appearance in different climates and parts of the country. While the manufacturing process may have created a fake looking final product in the past, years of perfection of the process have resulted in artificial grass turf that looks and feels just like the real thing today. These pellets are melted and put through an extruding process where they essentially flow through a metal plate that is punched with tiny holes, creating a plastic thread that is strengthened by stretching and running through cooling water. These plastic threads are then combined with other types of thread in order to produce a tight weave strand that looks like long blades of grass wound around a large spool.
These spools are transported to another part of the factory where synthetic mesh backing of various types is placed into a “tufting” machine. The plastic spools of green “yarn” feed into what looks like a gigantic sewing machine, where hundreds of stitches are made by pushing the thread through the backing material on one side while knives cut the thread loops on the other. This produces the look of blades of grass that have been mowed. After an inspection for even-ness by an employee, the sheets of artificial turf are then moved to a portion of the factory where a large roller places an adhesive element onto the back of the mesh, in order to seal it and assure that no strands are loose and able to be removed. The adhesive is then dried using a drier before it moves to a portion of the factory where hot pins poke holes into the material backing in order to assure proper drainage once installed. The turf is then fluffed by a machine that looks like football cleats rubbing the surface.
The installation of artificial turf on a landscaping site involves the installation of a weed barrier and a rubber underlay, which the turf is then placed over and staked securely through and into the ground. Sand and green granules may be spread through the installation in order to lift the blades of grass and fluff the final installation, however this is optional and depends on the actual installation goals.