Adams Stirling PLC


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

Negatives. Before installing large areas of artificial turf associations and individual members must consider the negative aspects such as (i) unresolved toxicity concerns, (ii) surface temperatures that can soar to 200º, and (iii) sanitation problems when dogs relieve themselves on it. Another caution concerns trees. When artificial turf is installed, sprinklers are turned off. That could negatively impact trees. Owners need to make sure trees are sufficiently watered.

Local Rebates & Restrictions. Some water districts are offering rebates to encourage the installation artificial turf. Boards need to check local ordinances before authorizing artificial grass to see if local authorities have imposed restrictions.

Homeowner Turf. Civil Code § 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 HOAs from requiring the removal of artificial turf and water-efficient landscaping installed in response to the current drought emergency.

Guidelines. If associations authorize artificial lawns, they need to develop guidelines to ensure realistic looking turf is installed. Boards should address the following issues:

  • Color. Turf comes in 1-, 2- and 3-color options. Three-color turf provides the most realistic looking grass.
  • Color Retention. The colors in artificial grass will fade over time because of exposure to UV sunlight. Nylon tends to break down faster than other materials and should be avoided. Find out what the rate of color loss is for the product. Does it warranty the product?
  • Pile and Weight. Like carpet, higher pile turf gives a richer more realistic appearance. The higher the face-weight of the product, the better the product's appearance. Turf in the 20 to 30 face-weight is less desirable than products in the 40 to 60 face-weight range.
  • Toxic Materials. Turf manufactured with nylon typically incorporates lead into the manufacturing process to keep the color from fading. Avoid any materials, including infill products, that use lead or any other heavy metal materials.
  • Permeability. Water needs to drain through the product. Some products have holes in the backing to allow water to drain through the product. The problem with holes is that they become clogged over time. Boards should prescribe products with completely permeable backings so that drainage through the turf is uniform and complete.
  • Water Absorption. Associations should avoid products that absorb water (another problem with nylon). If the product absorbs water, that means it absorbs pet urine. This creates odors and discoloration.
  • Infill Materials. Ask about the infill materials. Once the artificial turf 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 Drainage. 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. Boards should consult with installers and develop requirements for base materials.

ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.

Adams Stirling PLC