Maintaining a lush lawn in Arizona can be challenging, especially for those who realize how precious water is in the desert. For people who want to enjoy the fresh look of a green lawn, synthetic grass is a great option for homeowners. They can get the look of a real lawn without the hassle and maintenance.

Artificial grass needs no watering, saving homeowners expensive water bills, and stays green all year without seeding, fertilizing or mowing. It's man-made from synthetic materials created to look like natural grass.

Andrew Santana manages The Synthetic Grass Store, a professional artificial grass installation company in Tucson.

"Water conservation is the biggest reason so many residential homes and commercial businesses choose synthetic grass over natural sod," Santana says. "There is a wide selection of colors of artificial grass from light vibrant green to darker shades to suit the customer's needs. It's very hard to tell if it is natural or artificial, even from a distance."

Jason Richards, who has his degree in landscape architecture from Mississippi State University, spent more than 15 years working with golf course architects like Robert Trent Jones Sr. He now owns and operates Southwest Greens of Tucson and brings his knowledge of

installing golf course greens to designing artificial greens for backyards and sports fields in this area.

"Artificial grass lawns are great for anyone who wants beautiful looking, maintenance-free grass all year long," Richards says.

The professionals say cleaning artificial turf is easy. A leaf blower can be used to remove debris and leaves, followed by periodic spraying with a garden hose to clear off debris and clean the surface.

"After studying real lawn maintenance for decades, we have found that artificial grass saves the homeowner or business owner money after the initial expense of purchase and installation," Richards says. "The synthetic turf is so durable and fade resistant. It also has holes punched into it so that even heavy rains from a monsoon drain off very fast, faster than real grass."

Both Santana and Richards have installed artificial grass for businesses and residential homes in Green Valley and Sahuarita.

"For those who don't know, synthetic grass is pet friendly and safe for children," Santana says. "There is no grass pollen to worry about, and insects aren't interested in it either."

Southwest Greens of Tucson recently installed artificial grass on the playground at Los Niños del Valle Preschool on the La Posada campus in Sahuarita. The company is also finishing up the installation of one of three dog parks on the La Posada campus.

"The playground at the preschool called for a product that could handle high traffic and still have low-maintenance and be safe for the children," Richards says. "They selected an artificial

Bermuda blend that is a comfortable surface for playground areas. It's resistant to bacteria and is non-toxic and cushions the children during a fall better than sand or gravel."

Artificial turf for pets is becoming very popular with animal shelters and dog breeders, according to Santana and Richards.

"Out pet-safe synthetic grass is non-toxic, hypoallergenic and doesn't need pesticides and chemicals,” Santana says. "It's easy to clean and it's antimicrobial."

Artificial turf is now being used in dog runs, doggy daycare facilities and kennels.

“Your pet won’t be digging either and insects aren’t drawn to artificial grass,” Richards says.

For backyard putting greens, artificial turf allows the homeowner to putt all year round.

“There is also technology out there that provides effective temperature-reducing solutions for synthetic grass and is great for cooling down the artificial turf in 100-plus degree weather like we have been having lately,” Richard says. “Synthetic turf makes property look clean and well-maintained and can add cool color around a pool or patio.”

Contact freelance writer Regina Ford at reginaford492@gmail.com

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