Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES -

Der­rick Ox­ford, vice-pres­i­dent of Ez-grass, has op­er­ated his com­pany since 2007 in Western Canada, On­tario and Que­bec, sourc­ing raw prod­ucts from Den­mark and Ger­many that are then as­sem­bled in Shang­hai. Ox­ford says in 2014, his com­pany’s sales of ar­ti­fi­cial turf dou­bled com­pared with 2013. Since 1966, when ar­ti­fi­cial turf was first used in Ma­jor League Base­ball in the Hous­ton Astrodome, the prod­uct has un­der­gone decades of scru­tiny, with count­less stud­ies and ar­ti­cles ex­am­in­ing pros and cons. In ad­di­tion to im­prove­ments in tex­ture and over­all ap­pear­ance, says Ox­ford, more re­cy­cled prod­ucts are be­ing used in the man­u­fac­tur­ing process. Some mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in Canada have by­laws that re­strict res­i­den­tial in­stal­la­tions to back­yards and side yards, while other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties per­mit front-yard in­stal­la­tion, in­clud­ing or ex­clud­ing pub­lic right of way. I con­tacted the City of Win­nipeg and learned there is noth­ing in the Man­i­toba Build­ing Code or the city’s Build­ing by­law that reg­u­lates the use of ar­ti­fi­cial turf in land­scap­ing ap­pli­ca­tions. Ad­di­tion­ally, there is noth­ing in the Neigh­bour­hood Live­abil­ity by­law that specif­i­cally pre­vents the use of ar­ti­fi­cial turf, as long as it does not cause other prob­lems ad­dressed in the by­law, such as grad­ing, drainage and weed con­trol. In some ur­ban cen­tres in Canada, such as Vic­to­ria, B.C., there are ex­am­ples of traf­fic me­di­ans and a three-kilo­me­tre length of boule­vard made over with ar­ti­fi­cial turf. In Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., ar­ti­fi­cial turf is be­ing tested on a few me­di­ans. Air­ports, restau­rants, rooftop gar­dens, school play­grounds and sports fields are just some of the ex­am­ples of com­mer­cial ap­pli­ca­tions. The choice of syn­thetic grass over real grass can be driven by the po­ten­tial for sav­ings in both main­te­nance and wa­ter us­age. Ox­ford stresses proper in­stal­la­tion. “It is the pre-in­stal­la­tion phase that is most crit­i­cal,” he says, adding in­stalling ar­ti­fi­cial turf is best left to the pro­fes­sion­als. The ex­cep­tion might be the do-it-your­selfer who is ex­pe­ri­enced in lay­ing car­pet and in­stalling pa­tios. The prod­uct comes in rolls that mea­sure ap­prox­i­mately four me­tres by 15 me­tres and weigh any­where from 136 kilo­grams to 317 kg de­pend­ing on the grade se­lected. Pro­ce­dures in­clude ex­ca­vat­ing the ex­ist­ing lawn, ad­dress­ing drainage con­sid­er­a­tions, pre­par­ing the base with a layer of ag­gre­gate ma­te­rial such as crushed stone or de­com­posed gran­ite, and com­pact­ing the layer so it is per­fectly level. The ar­ti­fi­cial turf must be un­rolled and left in the sun for a cou­ple of hours so it is eas­ier to work with. There will be some ex­pan­sion and con­trac­tion. In­stalling it in­volves a range of steps that in­clude cut­ting, stretch­ing, over­lap­ping, se­cur­ing it with spikes and in some in­stances cre­at­ing a di­vi­sion of sorts, such as a row of pavers, so your neigh­bour does not mow it along with their lawn. The turf is top-dressed with sil­ica sand and brushed with a power broom un­til all the fibers stand up­right. What could go wrong in the in­stal­la­tion process? Grain di­rec­tion is

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