Artificial Turf, Artificial Grass

Civil Code Section 4735(a) makes void and unenforceable any provision in an association's governing documents that prohibits artificial turf or any other synthetic surface that resembles grass. It also prohibits associations from requiring the removal of artificial turf and water-efficient landscaping installed in response to drought conditions.

Many boards are considering synthetic grass for water conservation and to reduce maintenance. Artificial turf varies in manufacturing quality, life, and durability. Associations should adopt rules if they intend to allow the installation of artificial turf so the finished product looks like actual grass.


Before installing large areas of artificial turf associations and individual members should consider negative aspects such as:

  • Unresolved toxicity concerns,
  • Surface temperatures that can soar, and
  • Sanitation problems when dogs relieve themselves on it.

Another caution concerns trees. When artificial turf is installed, sprinklers are turned off. This can negatively impact trees. Boards and members of associations need to make certain that trees are sufficiently watered.

Local Rebates & Restrictions:

Some water districts are offering rebates to encourage the installation of artificial turf. Also, boards need to check local ordinances before authorizing artificial turf to determine if local authorities have imposed restrictions.

Associations need to develop guidelines to ensure that realistic looking turf is installed. Boards should address the following issues in their rules:

  • Color. Turf comes in one, two, and three color options. Three color turf provides the most realistic looking grass.
  • Color Retention. The colors in artificial turf will fade over time because of exposure to UV sunlight. Nylon tends to break down faster than other materials and should be avoided. Determine what the rate of color loss is for the product. Is a warranty available?
  • Pile and Weight. Higher pile turf provides the most realistic appearance. The higher the face-weight of the product, the better the product's appearance, Turf in the 20 to 30 face-weight range is less desirable than products in the 40 to 60 face-weight range.
  • Permeability. Water must drain through the turf. Some products have holes in the backing to allow water to drain. The problem with holes is that they become clogged over time, Products with completely permeable backing are preferred so that draining through the turf is uniform and total.
  • Water Absorption. Buyers should avoid products that absorb water (another problem with nylon) If the product absorbs water, that means it absorbs pet urine, creating an odor and discoloration.
  • Toxic Materials. Turf manufactured with nylon often incorporates lead into the manufacturing process to keep the colors from fading. Avoid lead or any other heavy metal materials.
  • Infill Materials. Inquire about the infill materials used. Once the artificial grass is installed, infill is used to make the turf stand up. Require in-fill that does not absorb urine that does not raise the temperature of the product (such as rubber), and does not contain heavy metals.
  • Base and Draining. Artificial turf cannot be installed over the top of existing grass. Sod and dirt must be removed and an aggregate base and soil stabilization fabric installed to allow for proper drainage.

Property managers and board members should carefully research each product before establishing guidelines or rules.

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