artificial grass ingredients, why quality matters
‘Quality means doing it right’ – Henry Ford
Ok, money is no object – which of the following would you choose?
Mercedes G Wagon vs Dacia Duster
Meile vs Beko
John Lewis vs ASDA Home
We’re pretty sure which of these brands most people would choose. Why? The brands most people would choose are the ones that are synonymous with quality. Whether it’s quality of ingredients, quality of workmanship, or quality of service, we all know and feel that things that are built with quality as an unnegotiable priority last longer, function better and often provide more value for money over the life of the product. Admittedly comparing a 4.0L supercharged v8 car with a 1-1.5L diesel shopping trolley isn’t the fairest comparison but hey Peter Pedantic Pants – stop nit-picking.
The same can be said for artificial grass – ingredient quality is the most fundamentally important factor in a product’s life span and it affects everything from the way the grass stands up to its ability to hold its original colour for as long as possible.
At its most basic level artificial grass is just plastic grass. When you dig a little deeper there are three common types of plastic which are used in most of the artificial grass sold for domestic landscaping in the UK:
- Polyethylene (PE)
- Polypropylene (PP)
You can refer to our advice article ‘What is Artificial Grass Made From?’ for more detail on each of the above materials and their suitability for the manufacture of artificial grass. For the purposes of this article we’ll focus on the material used most commonly in artificial grass sold in the UK which is Polyethylene.
Dig deeper again and you will find out that polyethylene is manufactured in a variety of grades – C2, C4, C6 and C8 in which the number denominates the number of carbons in the polymer. The higher the number the higher the grade and more expensive the polyethylene is as a raw material.
The priority for most manufacturers is making a product as cheaply as possible and selling it for as much as possible. End consumers don’t know any different so it would be ludicrous to spend double or triple the amount on a raw ingredient when the product looks identical at the point of purchase. Hey – this is business young grasshopper suck it up!
But you don’t have to. There’s a handful of manufacturers out there who actually give a Tommy Tinker about making good grass. The best we’ve found to date is TurfWorks who are extruding incredibly high quality polyethylene yarn in Germany and tufting it in Lancashire UK. They could save a packet by shipping (or even extruding) the yarn in China before having the grass tufted there and floated back to us on a big black cloud puffing ship but they don’t. Money isn’t everything and we’re happy to pay a bit more for high quality grass made by a company who cares.
It’s worth noting the polyethylene used in TurfWorks’ landscaping products was originally developed for the international sports pitch market and is commonly used in the very best American Football pitches which is probably just about the hardest wear an artificial turf can get.
Most of the artificial grass sold in the UK (probably over 90%) is made from c2 / c4 lower-grade polyethylene that is also used to make disposable shopping bags (remember them?) and poor quality cling-film. Would you invest £000’s into a lawn made out of the same material as shopping bags? Probably not.
some awesome analogies
We often use the analogy of disposable plastic cups – the sort of cup you might get at children’s birthday parties or from office water coolers. A good test of the quality of the plastic in the cup is to squeeze it – a low-grade plastic cup will split on the first or second compression whereas a higher quality cup will be able to flex repeatedly without any damage to the cup.
Another analogy is to think about packaging. If you have ever seen packaging (esp detergent bottles or similar) washed up on a beach you will be able to recall how different product packaging weathers / degrades differently from being in the sea.
Big brands spend big cashala$h on packaging. From having a uniquely shaped bottles for a certain products to using the best quality plastic which won’t fade or degrade over time. This is why you often see easily identifiable shaped packaging such as brand name toilet cleaners or squeeze bottles washed up on the beach that have retained their original shape and colour, despite being tossed around in the ocean for an indefinite period. The label may have disappeared but the packaging itself will have barely broken down at all. To contrast that budget brand product packaging is likely to be much more faded and the structure of the packaging may have also started to fail.
TK’s Top Turfing Tips Take-Aways
We recommend either C6 and C8 grade polyethylene for artificial grass as this will provide the best material functionality whilst retaining important characteristics such as not being too stiff, shiny or soft. Combining the properties of these polymers creates products that ultimately are structured to have the best product life-cycle possible. TurfWorks ‘Majestic’ is manufactured from a specialist polymer mLLDPE C6 which stands for metallocene linear low density polyethylene C6 which has many of the characteristics, functionality and durability of higher grade C8 polyethylene but forms a softer extrusion which in turn makes the grass product slightly softer to touch.
In short – higher quality plastic performs better and breaks down slower. In terms of artificial grass this means that products made from better quality plastic stand up better, hold their colour for longer and have better resistance against the wear and tear of every-day life.
When deciding between artificial grass products ask manufacturers what their products are made from because it’s the most fundamental aspect of what makes an artificial grass product good at doing its job. If a manufacturer or installer can’t tell you what the product they are recommending is made from – it’s most likely to be poor quality. The extra effort and investment it takes to produce high quality products means that manufacturers have to make a conscious and expensive decision to break away from the norm and they’d be keen to promote that.
Get as many samples as you can and feel the difference between them. The blades of grass on a low quality product are often translucent and they feel like you could stretch and break them. A good quality product should feel more substantial, slightly stiffer and more hard wearing. Cross-reference this with information available from the manufacturer and you will quickly be able to form an opinion on good vs bad. Ignore manufacturer hyperbole and superfluous adjectives and focus instead on material specs, lengths, weights etc. Just because a manufacturer calls a product ‘luxury’ or ‘Mayfair’ or similar doesn’t make it good quality!
About Turf King
Turf King is a small but elite group of the country’s finest Turf Ticklers tasked with the supply, installation and maintenance of artificial grass across the sports, education and domestic markets. We don’t take ourselves too seriously but one thing we won’t compromise on is the quality of the products and services we offer. We don’t do budget and we don’t do cheap, we just do awesome! Our regular customers would recommend us for our old fashioned business values: we do what we say we are going to do; we don’t cut corners; we do it once and do it right!
Whether you’re looking for a small piece of grass for a DIY project or a couple of thousand m² supplied and installed on a city centre rooftop we’ve got your back. No matter how ‘out-there’ your idea is we’ve got an awesome team who most likely will have done something similar before and we’d love to help – nothing is impossible!
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❤️ Team TK
contact the turf doctors via our contact us page or social media accounts. We love to help.
t: 01179 807905
p: 35 – 37 Whitehouse Street, Bristol, BS3 4AY