Friday, June 3, 2016

DoggyStyle: On Getting Artificial Turf for our Dogs

One of the things we were most excited about when we were able to get a house, was having our very own mini-yard. Just the idea that the pups would be able to romp, lay, or have nighttime bathroom breaks  in our own space.
Though little did we realize that our dream of a lush grassy yard would really become a Riot-fest style mudpit.
This was one of our early photos after we moved in. Imagine this after the rain, or even a big snowmelt:
We tried to regrow it, but we realized that since the homes are so close together, and there are so many big trees, the lawn wasn't getting enough sun. It became so muddy, we just stopped using our outdoor space altogether.
We knew some people who had gotten artificial lawns, and we always thought that we would do that in the future.
But the more our yard became unusable, we decided if we were going to get it we might as well get it now so that we could actually use the yard.
We did a lot of research and investigating, and we actually ended up getting our artificial turf late last summer.
Here's a bit of a before and after photo:
It was an investment, and it took us awhile to commit. But here are some things we learned, and things we wish we had known about beforehand.

Pricing (It's always changing and negotiable):
Before we started this process, we wanted to get some ballpark estimates to see how much of an investment it really was. What I didn't realize is that there are a lot of things that are negotiable and the prices were always changing.
They can only install the lawn once it has been dry for awhile. Since we had a heavy snow-melt last year, and a lot of the lawns were soggy, it was shortening the installation season.
I had spoken to one company to get estimates in the spring, but when I called them again in the summer to say we were interested, they said they wouldn't honor my original estimate and the price actually went up.
We ended up going with a different company, and a mere 2 weeks after we had our lawn installed we got an email that offered a discount to have it installed now.
If you are looking to get artificial turf, wait until the end of summer/early fall when it's slower for the companies and you can probably negotiate a better rate.
You should also ask for piecemeal pricing, even if you intend on getting everything done. We asked for pricing for the front only and back only, and they usually offer a discount if you agree to go with both.
We have a smaller space, and we were getting estimates between $7-9 per square foot.

Types of Lawn:
They send over a sales person to show you the different types of lawns they offer. Some are shorter, softer, or have different coloring to make it look like a real lawn. They will give you a couple of samples so you can see how they look in your space. I know they also have a "pet-friendly" turf that is softer and somehow the length makes picking up poo easier. We ended up going with Kentucky Blue, which isn't a specific pet-friendly style but it worked well for us.  It looks really natural, and it's funny because sometimes we'll see people walking by touching our lawn to see if it's real. Though it does look funny to have such a 'well-kept lawn' during the middle of winter.
The installation was the easiest part of the process. It only took one day, they were able to move anything we had in the space, and it was non-invasive.

What We Like:
Unlike the lawn we had before, the artificial turf drains really well, and it doesn't have any marshiness. We used to have a lot of little bugs and flies, but they don't seem to like the turf as much as natural grass (which is great for us!) and we used to have some city rats cross through our yard and it seems like they don't like the turf either and it's also more difficult to burrow in turf than natural grass.

It's easy to keep clean because it has little drainage holes and it's easy to just rinse the lawn if there is any poo reside.

It's really low maintenance and it looks natural. We don't have weeds and we don't need to spend time on our lawn anymore.

It really is like having a giant carpet outside. We can let the dogs go outside and we don't need to wipe their feet because they don't get muddy. They can also run on it without tearing divots in it.

Most importantly, the dogs can't 'graze' anymore. Whenever they found a lawn they used to spend their time like cows eating it.
Huck Finn Miss M enjoys eating our former lawn.

What we didn't like:
It is really expensive. Though we decided it was worth it for us to actually be able to use our yard, and we don't have to spend as much time and money on upkeep for our lawn.

It gets hot in the sun. We don't really go on it barefoot--it is the city and strange things migrate into yards--but it does get really hot.

The artificial turf companies were difficult to work with. I called a couple of companies and it was often hard to even get a return phone call. The first company that we received an estimate from retracted their estimate and gave us a higher cost. We decided to go with Chicago Dream Grass, which is a slightly higher cost but we thought they did a really good quality job. The group installing it was really nice and they did a great job, and Alicia was really great, but the salesperson that we had to deal with was extremely abrasive and unprofessional. I probably wouldn't recommend working with this company just because of him. It was also frustrating that they offered a discount a mere 2 weeks after we had ours installed.

Even with all of the hassle and expense, we do love it and how it has made our yard usable.

I had forgotten about this one!
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