It’s Elementary: When Grass Won’t Grow, Go with NewGrass
August 14, 2006
CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – After years of throwing away money trying to turn the proverbial sow’s ear into a silk purse, one Arizona elementary school has decided to install synthetic grass in its playground rather than keep trying to grow the natural stuff.
“We’ve been fighting this battle for years now; we tried several times to grow our own grass,” said Laurie Ocampo, principal of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School in Casa Grande, Ariz. “We’d plant grass and get it growing, and the minute the kids would get on it, it would be torn up, and we would end up with a dirt playground.”
It wasn’t just the wear and tear caused by the school’s 340 or so students that undermined the school’s attempts to grow a playground of natural grass.
The school is in the very arid Southwest, nearly 30 miles south of Phoenix. The ground is tough and by nature, does not welcome nature grass.
“We looked into alternatives and decided that synthetic grass just made more sense,” Ocampo said. St. Anthony chose to have STC (Synthetic Turf Company) of nearby Scottsdale install a variety of NewGrass™ brand synthetic lawn.
Ocampo joined St. Anthony after the school had decided to install an artificial lawn on its 11,000-square-foot playground. So, she was unfamiliar with artificial lawns before watching the installation at her school earlier this summer.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “I had never seen artificial lawns installed in such a big area. They (the STC installation team) explained it all to me, the steps involved. And it was all done in a week.”
“It’s beautiful,” Ocampo said of the completed installation. “It looks like a park.”
The results have garnered similarly positive reviews from residents in the school’s neighborhood.
“People walk by, and they say, ‘Wow, what have you done with the lawn this summer? Boy, you really must be watering this a lot,’” she said. “We’ve had a lot of compliments on it.”
Ocampo concedes, however, that the true test for the installation will come when the students return from summer vacation.
“If they like it, and if they don’t tear it up, then it’s a real success,” she said.
Based on how the lawn fares under the children’s treatment, St. Anthony may look into installing NewGrass™ in its smaller pre-school yard, Ocampo said.
“We’ll see how the big one does first,” she said.
Combined with their durability and being “live” all year long, artificial grasses are becoming popular alternatives for many schoolyards. This is especially true where natural grass simply can’t grow in playground areas or has been worn down to the dirt through repeated use.
NewGrass™ is installed with a layer of fine sand within and under the blades. This has the practical effect of keeping the blades lifted and looking fresh. On a play area or schoolyard, it has the added advantage of providing another level of cushioning.
Two other playground culprits — the dust and dirt a typical schoolyard can create —are meanwhile eliminated with a synthetic grass.