“Contouring synthetic turf is what separates turf specialists from the beginners.” JW

This month ASK JW will teach you why contouring synthetic turf is crucial in creating a “natural look” for your synthetic turf project.

Why does synthetic turf change colors when contoured?

When you contour synthetic turf, dynamics of light (sunlight) brings out multiple shades of colors when different angles are created. This dynamic creates a “natural look” in your synthetic turf installation.

Believe it or not, the view of ever changing colors in synthetic turf is due to reflection. Reflection of light from all angles produces rich colors in synthetic turf. When light is introduced into the surface of the synthetic turf fibers, different color variations appear mainly to to their angle to the direction of the light.

When the fibers are faced a certain way it changes the dynamics of its visibility. When the subgrade materials are contoured by grading slopes and small mounds, the beauty of the synthetic turf comes alive allowing the fibers to open and close resulting in a natural looking surface.

When should I go flat, and when should I contour?

There will be many installations where you’ll have to decide whether or not to grade your subgrade flat or contoured. Some clients have preferences that you should accommodate since it is their project. There will be installations that proper drainage supersedes all requests for contouring or being flat. When you contour synthetic turf you must understand that you are creating a slope where water runoff could possibly flood. If the exterior of the contour is up against a wall, curbing or building you must be careful not to create an area where the runoff from the contour will cause damage. Children’s play areas, pet runs and entrances and exits should be constructed flat due to possible trip hazards. Commercial fronts and beautification projects are good examples of areas that contouring should be considered. Below are examples of installations that either “Flat or Contoured”.

Flat installations

Play Areas

If you have an installation that will have children playing on the surface, I recommend grading and installing the synthetic turf flat. Any undulations that is present in an area where children are running may cause trip hazards and/or injury.

Hardscape designs

Some installations only allow the synthetic turf to be flat, connecting to hardscape for the completion of the design.

Pet parks

A majority of Pet parks are constructed flat. Pet areas that are constructed with slopes and undulations can cause injury to the animal.

Entrance & Exits

It is important to have all entrances and exits constructed flat so that egress can be achieved without complications.

Contoured installations

The existing soils that the playground is to be constructed on must be stable and have permeable qualities. Existing soils that are too soft or have clay like properties must be removed and replaced with quality imported materials. Pre grade existing soils and compact any loose material prior to placing imported sand a gravel.

When the existing sub grade materials are compacted, Place 6 inches of ¾”clean crushed aggregate, compact with a plate compactor to flatten.

Place 1”-2” inches of either decomposed granite, chat or a clean sand over top of the ¾” crushed aggregate. This will be used as a sand cushion over the compacted aggregate. Compact this material with a plate compactor to allow a smooth surface for the next process of placement of Underpadding/shock pad.

“Create magic and make your synthetic turf installations come alive”.

Commercial Installations & “Slant Perception”

There was a study done decades ago regarding “Slant Perception”. Part of the study showed how humans were more likely to walk on level surfaces than challenge their equilibrium by walking on sloped surfaces. This is why I recommend contouring for commercial projects when it is allowed. The less foot traffic the longer the synthetic turf will last beyond its warranty. It will also cut your maintenance in half.

Most commercial storefronts are designed to be appealing to the eye and grab customer’s attention as they drive by. In the above photos is an average commercial turf installation. Now visualize what this installation could have looked like if they would have spent the extra time and money to contour the sub grade in multiple places? Synthetic turf is appealing, but when it is contoured it looks magical.

Public Roads

There is nothing more appealing than contoured synthetic turf on public landscaped areas.

Parking lot islands

Not only will contouring keep foot traffic to a minimum but raising the center elevation brings multiple colors to parking lot islands.

If you want your synthetic turf installations to better than the competition then go the extra mile by contouring your next project. Contouring synthetic turf not only gives beauty to your installation but will showcase your craftsmanship… “JW”

Stay tuned for next months “Ask J.W.” column

For more information contact J.W. askjw@sgwcorp.com or call 888.846.3598

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