Synthetic grass business sees growth in the Valley

FRESNO, California

Take a look at the grassy areas at this Derrel's Storage yard in Northwest Fresno and it may be hard to believe that this grass is actually fake.

David Schy said, "They're looking to do more and more properties."

Schy is the president of Tru-Turf -- a synthetic grass company based in Fresno. Schy recently installed this patch of artificial grass and says the most common type of turf he sells used to cost eight dollars a square foot. Now it only costs three.

"Installation practices have changed and turf has changed," said Schy. "So we have better looking turf at a less expensive cost. And so it's really lowered price."

The lower prices are certainly grabbing the attention of commercial businesses. Real estate manager Adam Goldfarb had Tru-Turf install synthetic grass at the Cotswold luxury apartments complex in Northeast Fresno four months ago. Goldfarb is so impressed with the results and expects long-term savings by avoiding watering and maintenance costs.

"We've experimented on some other properties as well and I've taken the community managers over and after I tell them to get out and take a look at it because you can't tell," said Goldfarb. "Half the time it looks better than the normal grass."

With synthetic grass becoming increasingly affordable, more and more businesses are opting to replace old grass with artificial grass. But not everybody is convinced it's a smart investment.

Fresno public works director Patrick Wiemiller installed a small patch of grass on Shaw near Marks eight years ago as a testing site. He's not ready to make wholesale changes around town and argues that synthetic grass while fake -- is not maintenance free.

"They still need to be weeded. At times need to be washed because they accumulate dirt and dust," said Wiemiller. "But they do use less irrigation than natural turf does and obviously you don't have to mow it."

Schy and his 17 years of experience admits there is some maintenance needed on even the most sophisticated synthetic turf. And while the savings aren't instant -- they will grow over time.

Schy explained, "With our new pricing it's less than a year of payback for their return on investment."

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