What is AstroTurf? The History of Artificial Grass

October 28, 2021

For sports players, lawn enthusiasts, and landscaping aficionados, a common question has arisen over the years: what is AstroTurf? But, more specifically, why is it used, what is it made of, and how can it prove better over real grass? While its history in sports is pretty clear cut, the ensuing popularity for other uses has certainly grown over the years, and now it’s a widely recognized, alternative form of green with plenty of significance.

AstroTurf was created in the middle of the 1960s, specifically for the Houston Astrodome, where it takes its name. The fully enclosed baseball stadium was an engineering feat for its time, but the lack of sunlight soon made its mark on the field, leaving it’s grass to wither away by midseason. AstroTurf was then designed as a solution to this issue, but it didn’t come without its own set of problems. Sports players were quick to notice “burns” similar to those from carpets, and the nylon material initially used was expensive to maintain. Over the next few decades, advanced types of artificial grass were then developed that were better for playing conditions. Soon enough, this new fake grass sparked an interesting idea. Could this material be used for other, non-sport instances?

Let’s take a closer look at the history, evolution, and application of artificial grass.

Who Invented Fake Grass?

AstroTurf was invented by James M. Faria and Robert T. Wright in the late 1950s. It was patented and trademarked in 1965, originally named “ChemGrass”, before lending its name from the Houston Astros baseball team. The product was originally suitable, but brought about many on-field issues that required improvement. Donald L. Elbert then patented two new methods in 1971, to improve the overall quality. Further technological advancements then led to the consolidation of the AstroTurf brand, and it juggled between various companies throughout the late 20th century.

Types of Artificial Grass

So, what is artificial grass made from? And, how many different versions have spawned over the years? The product was originally made from nylon, and was basically a thick layer of carpeting that was uncomfortable and expensive. The Monsanto Company then implemented a textured nylon system, which was more uniform and handled traction better. Over the years, more types of artificial grass were created that more closely resembled natural grass, and was easier to create and maintain. The many types of artificial grass include:

  • Nylon – Sure, nylon wasn’t exactly the end-all answer for the Houston Astros, but the material is still used to make artificial turf today, particularly in landscaping. Its durability and resistance to high temperatures certainly has its benefits, but the cost has worsened its overall use throughout the years. Today, it’s mainly used alongside other types of artificial grass for reinforcement and stability.
  • Polypropylene – This plastic-based chemical was considered a perfect synthetic material for artificial turf. This new material looked more similar to real grass, and used sand as its infill. This allowed for better traction, and could even be made into different colors. This carried into the late 1970s and early 1980s, when artificial grass saw its first instance of residential use, especially in areas where it was difficult to grow grass.
  • Polyethylene – In the early 2000s, FieldTurf marketed a tall-pile polyethylene turf meant to mimic natural grass more than other products. Though it is more expensive than polypropylene, it looks much more natural, and is significantly more durable. This artificial turf is ideal for all types of applications, especially in landscaping.

Arizona Luxury Lawns & Greens

Artificial grass has soared in popularity over the last few decades, primarily for residential and commercial use. Natural grass has always been a pain to grow, and this artificial alternative became a convenient way to fill lawns and outdoor spaces. Arizona Luxury Lawns & Greens is among the leaders in artificial turf, providing the highest quality of artificial and synthetic grass for any and all projects. With nearly a dozen locations throughout the United States and the UK, we can help find and install the perfect artificial turf for you, whether it’s for residential or commercial landscaping, stadiums and fields, and more. Contact us today for a free quote, or for any questions or comments regarding our exceptional artificial lawn services.

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