Artificial lawns are a great way of keeping your garden looking pristine throughout the year. They require little maintenance, don’t need mowing or watering, don’t turn brown in the hot sun and the latest artificial turf looks just as good as natural grass.
However, artificial turf is only low maintenance if it is installed correctly. Badly installed artificial turf can cause several problems, especially during the rainy season.
Why does the rainy season cause problems for artificial turf?
The rainy season brings with it heavy tropical storms that cause havoc with all types of vegetation, both natural and synthetic. But for the most part, the problem is not the artificial turf itself, but the way it has been installed.
Often, artificial turf is installed without proper drainage, which causes water to pool on the surface during heavy rainfall. This can lead to a host of problems both with the turf itself and the underlying foundation.
Problems caused by poor drainage
With tropical storms becoming more intense over the past decade, these issues are becoming more common, so your artificial turf must be installed properly in the first place to avoid the following drainage problems:
Pooling on the surface
Pooling or standing water sitting on the surface is the most obvious symptom of poor drainage. These pools are not only unsightly, but they are also a breeding ground for bacteria, mosquitoes and other nasty insects.
Deformation of the grass fibres
Sitting in standing water for a prolonged period can break down the individual fibres of artificial grass. This results in your lawn looking scruffy and can significantly reduce the lifespan of your turf.
Along with breaking down the individual grass fibres, standing water can also cause the foundations to subside. This causes the turf to become uneven, which increases wear and further reduces the lifespan of the lawn.
Mould and bacteria growth
Standing water also provides the perfect breeding ground for mould, which stays around even when the water is removed. Mould growth not only leaves the surface slippery, but it can also lead to upper respiratory allergies.
Water that is left to run off your artificial lawn towards the house can cause significant structural damage to your home’s foundations. This will result in costly repairs to your home, and if left unchecked, it could cause walls to collapse.
How to improve artificial lawn drainage
The good news is that all these problems can be prevented by ensuring your artificial turf is installed correctly. Here are a few techniques we use to ensure proper drainage:
Proper hard surface preparation
If the artificial turf is to be installed over a hard surface, such as tarmac or concrete, care needs to be taken to ensure the foundations are sloped away from any nearby properties by around 1 per cent.
This will provide adequate runoff for the water, thereby reducing the risk of pools forming on the surface. However, care should be taken to not increase the slope too much, because this can increase the risk of flooding.
Proper organic surface preparation
If the artificial turf is to be installed over an organic surface, such as soil or clay, the foundation should be adapted to the composition of the underlying soil type. In most cases, a minimum slope of 2 per cent is required for organic surfaces.
The actual slope required will be determined by the composition of the ground itself. For example, an impermeable clay undersoil will require a steeper slope than a sand-based soil.
Ensure the sub-base is the correct depth
When laying over an organic surface, care should also be taken to ensure the sub-base is of the correct specification for the subsoil type. This is one of the biggest mistakes we see when rectifying turf drainage problems.
Many installers use a standard 7cm sub-base, regardless of the soil type, but we recommend that a 15cm sub base is used for heavy clay-based soils. This will provide the increased drainage required for this type of soil.
Use the right sub-base material
The depth of the sub-base is not the only thing to think about. The material used can also impact drainage quality, because some sub-base materials such as sand or silica may pack down too tightly, thereby reducing permeability.
We typically recommend a crumb rubber or pea gravel sub-base because it is better at resisting compaction. However, the final choice will depend on your soil type and the location of the turf.
Install a drainage ditch
A drainage ditch should be installed if there is a risk of excess water running off the lawn towards your property. Excess water like this can cause significant structural damage to your foundations, which are costly to repair.
The drainage ditch should be sloped by around 1 per cent and designed to take excess water away from your home and any outbuildings. Care should also be taken to ensure neighbouring properties are not affected.
Install piped land drains
For installations where there is a high risk of flooding, such as sites that are based on heavy clay soils or located at the bottom of a steep slope, a piped land drain may be necessary.
This involves digging several trenches across the lawn in which a perforated pipe is laid. The pipe helps to channel away excess water quickly, but care must be taken to ensure the water is drained away in line with environmental regulations.
Expert artificial turf installation by Turf King
If you would like to create the perfect low maintenance lawn in your garden, consult with the artificial turf experts at Turf King. We are specialists at installing artificial turf on difficult sites which may suffer from significant drainage problems.
We start each project by carrying out a thorough site survey to help us plan your installation. Our expert team will use this information to specify the correct sub-base for your soil type and recommend whether any extra drainage is required.
This detailed process helps us to ensure your final artificial turf lawn not only performs and looks beautiful year-round but stays that way no matter what the weather throws at you.
Check out our range of artificial turf here or get in touch by calling 0487 888 500 for more information.