Published: Saturday, June 6, 2009 11:30 PM MDT
Originally published here: http://www.gillettenewsrecord.com/articles/2009/06/07/news/today/news03.txt
Randy Dayhoff’s two Australian shepherds had him ready to tear out his hair. Instead, he had someone tear out his lawn.
dogs were spending their time outdoors doing what dogs do best: running
around the backyard, wearing the grass down to mud, rolling around in
the muck and tracking all of that dirt and filth back into the house.
make the mess stop, Dayhoff was going to have to find a way to defy the
laws of nature. Gillette lawns inevitably get muddy when winter rolls
around. Dogs love mud.
So what did he do? He ran into local entrepreneur Tom Klein.
the man behind area dollar stores like Closeout Connection, had started
on a new endeavor: installing turf lawns as a regional representative
for the company Golf Greens “Fore” U.
Mostly, said turf
simulates putting greens and chipping surfaces for avid golfers. But it
can also double for backyard grass, given the right conditions.
was game. Sure, he would reap some fringe benefits from transforming
his backyard into a synthetic surface. There would be no more watering,
mowing or weed whacking for him or his wife. But his main motivation
was to keep those dirty dogs of his in check.
At the end of May,
Klein and his crew went to work on the Dayhoff yard. It was one of the
first projects they had tackled in the Gillette area. Understandably,
the neighbors weren’t quite sure what was going on at the Dayhoff
“The first word that everyone thinks of is ‘Astroturf,’” Klein says, with a hint of exasperation.
the material he uses is designed to camouflage itself a bit better than
that. Picture the deep green of a well-watered lawn, not so much the
radioactive glow of a “Brady Bunch”-style yard.
not until winter that people are really going to notice it,” Klein
says. “They’re not going to notice it now. They’ll think it’s just
someone with a green thumb.”
Before the first patch of
manufactured grass went down, however, Klein and his two teenaged
helpers had to spread a truckload of gravel over the dirt patch that
sits behind the Dayhoff house. The crushed stones give water “someplace
to go” when it rains, Klein says.
The gravel work alone took a
full day. Next came the green stuff, laid out in patches and staked
together like a massive, outdoor carpet. The backyard measures 1,800
square feet, so it took a bit of time to coat it in turf.
to the challenge was the fact that the yard has a rounded, oval shape.
Klein had to whip out a carpet knife to round off the edges of a few of
the lawn patches. He goes through 15 to 20 knife blades on each
project, he says.
After the second phase is complete, Dayhoff
walks out to the backyard to inspect the progress. He’s skeptical. The
ground beneath his feet is squishy and unstable.
“If those dogs get to running and make a sharp turn ...” His backyard would be in disarray once again.
the magic ingredient is still to come: sand, and lots of it. Sprinkled
and raked over the turf, the 2,500 pounds of sand adds weight and
stability to the yard, keeping the patches in place and creating a more
By the time it’s done, the lawn could pass for any
other backyard on Overland Trail. Of course, such a service does not
come cheaply. Klein pegs the cost at between $4,000 and $30,000.
Dayhoff’s lawn falls square in the middle of that range.
“We let our customers know ... it’s not like a VW Bug,” Klein says. “It’s a Mercedes.”
Klein adds that he thinks the process could catch on in Gillette. In
water-starved parts of the country like Arizona, turf lawns are a
natural part of the suburban landscape. They save municipalities water,
and residents the fees that come with using it.
Given that the
City of Gillette has launched numerous water conservation efforts over
the past year, and that water utility rates are set for a hike over the
next few years, Klein sees a potential for growth.
consumers need to decide if it works for them. Dayhoff will see how his
new lawn holds up through the winter and then decide if he’d like to
give his front lawn the same treatment.
But his dogs had already given their verdict: They were lounging and frolicking over the turf as if nothing had changed.