Artificial turf used to be exclusively used in commercial establishments such as sports fields. But with advancement in technology they can now be incorporated into residential properties and homes. They have become the to-go-to solution for homeowners looking for landscapes that are low maintenance and surreal décor such as green walls. Artificial grass does not only give your place an even green colour but it is also very versatile.

Rhys Mirindo, proprietor of Nairobi Turfgrass, says, “When I started in 2021, people would put the artificial grass only on the balconies and restaurants. Right now it has become very adaptable as people are now embracing them in schools, spas, reception areas, children’s play areas, offices, bars and offices.” 

There are different types of artificial grass and each type is meant for specific applications. 

“The shorter ones are recommended for high traffic areas such as restaurants and cafes, school playgrounds because of maintenance issues as it is easy to maintain, while the lush and thick artificial grass is best suited for more private spaces including your private balcony and private lounges,” says Mirindo.

Mirindo urges those interest in the faux grass to choose they type that looks as real grass .

“You do not want to put something in your compound that looks and feels plastic,” Mirindo urges.

The cost of artificial grass depends on the size. The cost ranges from Shs56,000 to Shs82,000 per square metre. 

Can you roll it on your whole compound?
Mirindo says the artificial grass can be used on your entire compound but the compound must meet a minimum threshold for the artificial grass to be rolled out. 

“Ground preparation must be done before the turf can be laid. Ground preparation entails the placing of three layers of material that are laid and compacted together. You place the hardcore, the concrete and the sand together,” says Mirindo.

After getting the layering correct, the draining should be done correctly by putting drainage channels before the turf can be laid.

“The drainage is essential as it gives the water an escape route when you wash the grass and when it rains. The grass has perforated holes at the bottom. The ground preparation can take up to two weeks,” Mirindo adds.

Why the sudden rise in demand?
The increase or resultant use of artificial grass has been propelled by the drought that the country experienced. 

“During January is when I got to reap very big as it was very sunny. People ended up having trouble with their lawns as nothing seemed to be working even after watering, therefore, they opted for artificial grass,” he says.

With artificial grass, very little maintenance is required as long as the installers get everything right.

“After installation, all you will need to do is sweep the grass and use the water whenever you feel that it is dusty. Artificial grass can last you as long as 10 to 15 years without fading and maintain its colour throughout the years. All this depends on where you purchase it from, who installs it and the grass thickness that you choose. When you acquire cheap grass and install it without the technical know-how it will not last long,” says Mirindo. 

Artificial green wall
The artificial green wall has been there for a long time but people have not embraced it. However, right now they are picking up pace as decorations for homes and restaurants. The green walls are hung in a room and appear like a beautiful art piece that embraces nature. A panel of artificial grass costs Sh9,999 for a size of one metre by one metre. People also like combining the green wall with neon signs.

Why pick artificial grass over natural grass?
Artificial grass comes with peace of mind. “You do not want to stress on watering, birds, dogs coming to dig up your space and scattering soil everywhere,” he says.

It is also very easy to install as no watering is needed. It gives your balcony or  backyard  a feeling of being transfered  from a concrete jungle and into your safe space. 

A majority of Mirindo’s clients are corporates and individual end users with balconies and backyards.

“Increasingly we have noticed that it is being accepted in bars, restaurants and nightclubs,” he says.

DJ Pierra Makena is a user and ambassador for artificial grass. In her apartment, she has artificial grass on the floor of her balcony.

“I love nature, I like being outside so having the artificial grass gives me the calm feeling that comes with being outside. Sometimes when I come from work I just want a place to chill and this balcony has become that safe space for me. I also work on my playlists from here,” she says.

Makena also reads from the balcony which is also a play area for her daughter and a place to host her guests. For Shs1.6m, she was able to have artificial grass installed on her balcony. Her next project is to get the hanging green walls for her balcony walls.  
Many people opt for artificial grass to escape the tedious maintenance that comes with natural grass.

“It is the easiest to maintain. Since I installed it three months ago, I have not had to do much to it apart from the usual sweeping. Before the artificial grass, I used to have a carpet and it was a series of daily cleaning,” Makena says. 
However, the celebrated DJ acknowledges that when she has adequate land where she can have an outside compound she would not mind growing natural grass.

Critics of artificial grass argue that when it gets hot, the grass could get so dangerously hot that it may result in posing a burning risk. This then becomes very dangerous to young children who use the grass as a play area.

The best artificial grass 
There is a significant investment involved. A properly installed artificial lawn is more like your paver patio than your traditional lawn. Low maintenance does not mean no maintenance as your lawn will need to be cleared of leaves and debris if you have trees nearby.

And even if you do not, the turf needs to be raked occasionally to look its best. notes that different artificial grass products are suited to different applications, so there is no one “best” artificial grass product or brand. 

Here is the ideal type of turf products for specific applications.

Roofs and balconies
If your downtown apartment, deck or balcony needs a little greening up, artificial grass is a great way to do it.  Because it is installed over concrete or other hard surface, the best fake grass for patios should have a fully permeable backing to allow for draining and deter mold from growing.  

Your balcony is transformed  from a concrete jungle and into a safe space.  PHOTO/FILE

Since a small deck or patio will not see the heavy foot traffic that a yard would, you can afford to go with a short pile height.

Swimming pools 
Many homeowners choose to install artificial grass around swimming pools. The best artificial grass for around swimming pools will have a fully permeable backing to allow splashed pool water to drain away rather than puddle up and foster bugs and messes.  Because of all the excess water, antimicrobial additives and a lower face weight are a good idea for artificial turf near pools or backyard ponds.

Play areas 
A fully-permeable backing is ideal for playground turf. The last thing you need in a children’s play area is stagnant water. Choose an antimicrobial product to reduce germs, odours and bacteria. As for the fake grass itself, the best artificial grass for playgrounds and play areas should have a good thatch layer because it provides extra traction and cushion from falls. 

You can even get a base layer of foam underlay for additional padding underneath the artificial grass. You will also need a product with a good face weight so it will be durable enough to withstand continual foot traffic. 

Regardless of what brand you choose, make sure the site is well prepared to ensure there are no rocks or uneven areas beneath the artificial grass installation.

This will increase the life of your play area and prevent injuries from trips and falls.

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Caroline Wanjugu