Waste & Synthetic Turf

February 28, 2023

Waste & Synthetic Turf


Hi everyone! I hope all is well. For those who do not know me my name is JW and I am here to help others succeed in the synthetic turf Industry.

Today I would like to speak about “Synthetic Turf Waste.” Throughout my travels, teachings, and seminars I have spoken to several contractors regarding their input on synthetic turf waste. A majority didn’t know how much turf waste carries a financial burden.  Are you figuring “Waste Factor” in your estimates, proposals, and ordering?

Are you figuring it as a loss or do you just eat the cost not knowing any better.

Well… today is your lucky day because JW is going to hook you up”!


If you are wanting to make a career in synthetic turf, then you may want to pay very close attention to waste and the burden it may place upon your profits.  It all begins with estimating. If you and your sales team are new to the synthetic turf industry you may want to brush up on your geometry. Geometry and synthetic turf go hand and hand. When sections of turf are cut square or rectangle, then placed in an area that is round, or in a circle… there will be waste. When you remove excess waste from your installation, you are witnessing money being thrown in the trash.


Understanding Geometry & Layout is a must! In order for you to be successful at synthetic turf installations, you must be good at geometry. Yeah I know it’s been years since you had a geometry class but I’m here to help. Placing hard to move rectangle and square sections of synthetic turf in and around objects can be very challenging. Understanding geometry and how sections are laid can be very tricky. Synthetic turf Is manufactured in rolls similar to carpet.  A majority of synthetic turf that is manufactured today is made in 12 feet and 15 feet widths and the lengths up to 100 feet long. Landscape turf is usually ordered and cut to the size the contractor chooses. Most of the time full rolls are purchased and the cuts are made in the field. When these cuts are made, usually there is extra material that is figured to allow for the turf to overlap edges, hardscape, and integrating seams. This extra waste is used to grab and then cut to shape. When the edges are cut, this waste is either saved for future projects, or disposed of as trash. When estimating synthetic turf you must create a drawing, plan, or schematic of the area to be installed. If the area is not square you will have to create imaginary lines that will represent the sections of the synthetic turf you are planning to lay. I recommend running string lines that will represent the exterior edges of the design. When done, paint out these areas with upside down marking paint and transfer these measurements to your plan. I recommend ordering enough turf so that you don’t come up short and have unwanted seams.

“Waste…Someone has to pay for it”


If you don’t have a clue, or understand how to absorb the cost? … It’s easy. Someone has to pay for it. I suggest having the client be part of the decision making when it comes to waste. Have a diagram of the clients installation and show where and how much waste will occur due to their size and geometrical shape. Have the client understand that having less seams may cause more waste. Less seams should always be the goal! Help the client understand that the turf waste will not need grading, compacting or even installing that waste of turf and that the only extra cost incurred would be turf materials. Turf waste  is merely cut off and never used, unless used as a remnant on another project. If the waste is very minimal and your sales team are selling at a fair price, then you may absorb the waste, just as long as it doesn’t  dip into your profits.  When all is said and done, I recommend having the client pay for the waste.


Often I receive emails and even facetime calls on projects regarding “How much do I add or figure for waste? I recommend figuring a minimum of 10% waste factor for all synthetic turf installations. You may need to figure more or less depending on your project. If your project is designed with a round or radial design, your waste factor may increase. Sometimes those nice curvature designs can be costly in material waste. Every project is different than the next and waste factors may fluctuate. If you special order a certain type of turf that is hard to come by, or it may take longer to get, I suggest you order plenty to cover waste , mistakes, and future repairs. But be aware dye lots vary from batch to batch and the colors may not match.


Having the correct measuring tools is a must when estimating synthetic turf. I recommend using a 35 and 100 foot flexible tape measure. The 35 foot tape measure will allow you to measure 15 feet Increments, and also measure two 15 feet sections at one time. The flexible 100 foot tape measure allows you to lay the tape on the ground where round measurements are needed for more accuracy. If you are going to use a measuring wheel, I recommend double checking the wheel and reset the numbers to ensure you don’t mess up overlapping measurements. If you want your profits to reflect your proposals then you will definitely need the right measuring tools.


Many Installers feel they can save money by choosing multiple seams over waste. This is an unacceptable method to choose. Clients are not expecting multiple seams in their installation. Clients expect all synthetic turf to simulate natural grass without seams and unified as one.


Like I had mentioned earlier, most synthetic turf is manufactured 12 and 15 foot widths.

These lengths can be as long as 100+. If your team consists of sales and purchasing personnel, the sales team will need to communicate to the purchasing department and include the waste into their budgets and ordering. I have witnessed companies sell an install based upon its total square footage and not the exact cuts including waste. This is where the office sends out a complete roll… then the crew cuts sections off that roll … but are left with small sections that are pieced together to finish the project. When this happens multiple seams are created and many times, sections going the wrong direction. Being knowledgeable about quantities of turf is not just about waste and saving money, but also for avoiding multiple seams. We all know that bad seams happen, so why create a boatload of seams in your installation?


Craftsmanship in synthetic turf will always be achieved by having the proper tools and amounts of turf on site. Taking short cuts by trying to piece remnants and scraps will hinder you from being successful. The push cutter tool, also known as “loop and pile cutter” is one of the most important tools that should be in your tool bag. This tool allows you to cut excess waste off the perimeter of the turf with speed and accuracy.


Putting greens are far from being square or rectangular. In fact you will probably never see sharp edges on the exterior design of a putting green. Just like landscape turf, putting green materials come in rolls of 12 and 15 feet widths. Depending on radius and curves, putting greens can have an extensive amount of waste. In order to wrap the fringe material around the entire putting green you will need to purchase large enough sections so that you can minimize seams. Putting green fringe that is put together with small pieces creates more time, labor and lots of seams. The fringe is for the golfer to stand and chip off of. When the fringe has multiple seams, the seams may start to show like parted hair. Not only will it cost you more money in the long run, but if the pieces are not laid in the same direction then you will see different shades of color due to grain not being aligned. “I recommend not taking the chance and use larger sections and place the burden of cost to the one who will be enjoying the putting green the most… the client”.


Lay-out and fiber direction are important factors when placing turf in, and around grass/sand traps. In order for you to be successful at installing grass and sand traps you will need to figure out extra material to cover over-lapping, seam integration, and enough to cover the existing fringe.


When figuring lay-out and waste for playgrounds, please keep in mind that protecting waste may not protect the longevity of the turf due to wear and tear. Playgrounds can take a beating. If you skimp on waste and place seams where heavy foot traffic will occur, I promise, you will have constant repairs to make. I recommend spending money on waste and maintaining safety than having to come back and make costly repairs.


When estimating large commercial projects, I recommend creating a lay-out and numbering system for all sections that will be placed. Large waste may be used in other places if it is planned correctly.


When you are faced with placing turf in between ribbons or borders, you will definitely have waste. I never recommend placing small strips and pieces for  turf ribbons and borders. Placing small pieces will add additional seams which will create additional labor and visible seams. When placing synthetic turf ribbons, I recommend placing large sections then cutting out the hardscape.Turf ribbons and borders require lots of waste. Again, this  extra cost must be explained to the client.


According to USBF, the overall dimensions of a Bocce Court is 10 to 13 feet wide and 76 to 100 feet long. When estimating the surface material, you will need to order one large section to cover the entire bocce court without seams. This means that you may have 100 feet by 5 feet of waste leftover. Again… you need to explain this to your client.


I receive calls from contractors that have no idea how to place turf around trampolines. They end up trying to save money by running sections along the trampoline and then have to piece in triangle openings with scrap. Please don’t do this! When estimating turf around trampolines, you will need to figure placing the turf over the entire trampoline and then cut out the waste. This will give the area stability and minimize seams. If done correctly you will have two large pieces of waste that was cut out from the middle of the trampoline, that looks like this.


Many synthetic turf contractors are not aware that contouring the subgrade may throw off measurements. I hear stories of contractors having drawings, sketches, and plans for the area before it was installed and didn’t understand why they were coming up short.

The turf didn’t fit the area because their team placed massive mounds in the project which caused certain sections being short of the hardscape.

When installing synthetic turf, many times you may have to wrap turf around trees, buildings, walls etc. I get asked often, how I became so fast at placing synthetic turf. I  tell them .. have enough man power and understand the “method of folding”. Working with synthetic turf is like working with napkins and towels. They can be folded into many shapes on how you want them to be. Understanding the folding method will make your installs much easier and faster. Even though synthetic turf is much thicker and harder to handle than napkins and towels, the folding methods and techniques are actually the same.

Preventing waste in synthetic turf is crucial in being profitable. To make money you also have to save money. Being successful in this industry you must educate your entire workforce about Synthetic Turf Waste.

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