Ask JW: Incorporating Tree Wells Into Your Install (Part 2)

I forgot to place irrigation to a tree under my newly placed turf, what do I do?

As I stated in my November 2015 column, trees, plants and shrubs require carbon, hydrogen and oxygen from the air and water to survive. There is little turf installers can do to control how much of these necessary elements plants will receive. Enclosing and placing synthetic turf directly up against a tree, plant or shrub will decrease the tree’s chance of survival. Without a supply of water, it is a definite that the plant will die.

This month I will explain how to place irrigation around a tree after the synthetic turf system has been installed.

Terms to Remember:

Crown/Flair– The root flare area (also called the crown or root collar) is the area where the main stem tissue transitions to root tissue.

Roots– anchors the tree to the ground and gathers water and nutrients to transfer to all parts of the tree. They are also used for reproduction, defense, survival, energy storage and many other purposes.

Canopy – The above-ground portion and collection of individual plant crowns.

Carpet Kicker – A tool that assists in stretching synthetic turf.

Push Cutter – A tool used to cut synthetic turf from the bottom backing without harming the turf fibers.


Measure the distance from the base/crown/flair of tree that aligns with the canopy of the tree. Use chalk or white silica sand and mark the perimeter line around the tree to establish the “cut line” of the synthetic turf. Keep this measurement written down for the next steps until synthetic turf is cut open.


Take a shop vacuum and remove infill from the turf approximately two feet on each side of marked line. This will allow the synthetic turf to be cut efficiently and will also prevent a ridge or bump to be left after the replacement is done.

*Remember: If the infill is not removed past your working area, this ridge/bump is very hard to remove after the turf is placed back in its original state.


After the infill is removed, re-mark the perimeter line around the tree just as you did in Step 1. Take a push cutter tool and cut the marked line to open up the synthetic turf. The push cutter tool will cut the synthetic turf from the bottom of backing and will not jeopardize cutting the turf fibers.


Take both sections and fold them open to allow the subgrade to be exposed for the next steps.


When the turf is folded and open to the subgrade, re-mark the canopy measurement as in the previous steps. Excavate approximately 10 inches and carefully place the excavated soils to the side.


Place newly connected irrigation and secure with staples to ensure the Irrigation heads remain vertical. Test the irrigation for any leaks prior to the next step. Place a collar around the irrigation heads, backfill, and level. The collar will have a cover that will be placed on top after the repair is completed. This will allow for future maintenance and visual inspection of the irrigation heads.

It is important to compact the soils to a minimum of 80 percent–this will ensure the excavated soils will not settle due to foot traffic.


After the irrigation is complete, fold the synthetic turf back to its original position. Place seam tape at center of seam. Place SGW Superseam Glue and with a carpet kicker join both sections together.


After the glue is cured, replace the infill and fibrillate the fiber to hide the seam. Place a green cover on top of the collar to allow for an even surface.

Stay tuned for next month’s “Ask JW” column for synthetic grass install tips and tricks! For more information or to contact J.W.: or call 888 846 3598.

Ask JW: Incorporating Tree Wells Into Your Install (Part 1)

Your Turf Installation Will Survive for Years to Come, But Will the Trees, Plants, and Shrubs Within Your Installation?

A basic understanding of a root system’s structure is critical. Trees, plants and shrubs depend on a consistent supply of water, oxygen, and nutrients for survival.

This month I will explain why encapsulating trees, plants and shrubs with synthetic turf will not only put the vegetation in a health risk, but the repairs and replacement can also be costly.

Contractors must understand the liabilities of all surrounding areas within their installation, in addition to the synthetic turf area. Installing synthetic turf against the base (crown/flair) of trees, plants and bushes without regard for the surrounding vegetation will only create unhappy customers.


Tree– A perennial plant with an elongated stem, or trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species.

Shrubs– A shrub is a small to medium-sized woody plant.

Plants – Any of various photosynthetic, eukaryotic, multi-cellular organisms characteristically containing chloroplasts, having cell walls made of cellulose, producing embryos, and lacking the power of locomotion. Plants include trees, bushes, herbs, ferns, mosses, and certain green algae.

Tree (Circle) Well– The primary purpose of a diameter(circle)constructed well is to retain moisture for re growth and to prevent the tree from certain causes of death due to the raising and lowering of elevation of soils surrounding the tree.

Encapsulating– To surround or close off on all sides

Crown/Flair– The root flare area (also called the crown or root collar) is that area where the main stem tissue transitions to root tissue.

Roots– The roots of a tree serve to anchor it to the ground and gather water and nutrients to transfer to all parts of the tree. They are also used for reproduction, defense, survival, energy storage and many other purposes

Canopy – Is the aboveground portion and collection of individual plant crowns.

Mulch – Is a layer of material applied to the surface of an area of soil. Its purpose is to conserve moisture, to improve the fertility and health of the soil, to reduce weed growth, to enhance the visual appeal of the area.

Since trees, plants and shrubs require carbon, hydrogen and oxygen from the air and water to survive, there is little turf installers can do to control how much of these plants receive. Installing synthetic turf directly up against a plant will diminish its chance of longevity and survival.

One of the best ways to protect the health of trees is to ensure that there is a constructed “Circle Well” around the base of each plant.

The “well circle” that is constructed around the plant provides a nice contrast to the surrounding synthetic turf, but most importantly, the well circle allows the plant to access vital nutrients for survival.

The additional space between the plant and the turf helps protect the plant, the inner bark, roots and flair near the soil line.

Constructing a raised well will also prevent water runoff and allow for deep penetration of the irrigated area. Mulching tree wells is also important for maintaining healthy vegetation. Mulch retains root moisture for trees, plants and bushes. The diameter of the mulched area surrounding the tree should extend as far as roots are visible.

When natural grass is removed and replaced with synthetic turf, trees, plants and bushes can fall within the “Synthetic Turf Zone.” This vegetation either is receiving water from its own irrigation system or feeding off the natural grass irrigation system. My recommendations are as follows:

1. I strongly recommend to cap all irrigation lines at the valves that connect to the existing natural grass irrigation. DO NOT USE SPRINKLER CAPS! Sprinkler caps only cover the heads of the natural grass sprinklers. If the irrigation valve is not capped, there is a chance that nails, spikes or staples may puncture the underlying irrigation lines which may be buried unseen to the naked eye. I have experienced contractors getting call backs three years later from the client stating there are leaks throughout the synthetic turf zone. Don’t take this chance!

2. If there are trees, plants or bushes within the synthetic turf zone that were receiving water from the natural grass sprinklers, I recommend drawing out a new irrigation plan and installing new irrigation pipes or drip tubing. This will ensure that all workmen understand where the new irrigation lines are placed as well as prevent any irrigation damage caused by nails, spikes and staples that water the trees, plants and shrubs.

The drawing will also provide the contractor and homeowner future reference of the new irrigation’s location. These simple steps will allow for easy future repairs.

3. Synthetic Grass Warehouse Polyboard is a quick and great solution to create tree wells. When the natural grass is removed and irrigation is completed, prior to the placement of sub base materials, measure the SGW Polyboard at an even radius around the base of the tree. Excavate and bury the SGW Polyboard to proper elevation to complete a tree well. On larger trees, the well must extend to the “canopy”–also called the “drip edge,” which is where the feeder roots gain the most nutrients. The well must be made of good soil that will compact and allow the well to hold water without it breaking its circle.

Please note; if the constructed well is not installed with SGW Polyboard or SGW Wonder Edge, integrity of sub grade soils will erode and will allow the exterior nails, spikes or staples to come loose and the “circle well” will fail.

4. If SGW Polyboard or SGW Wonder Edge is not used, then a “berm” can be constructed to create a “circle well.” Build up the soil higher than the existing turf elevation to keep water and nutrients from running away from the trees, plants or shrubs.

Place the synthetic turf into the well approximately 8 inches. Use a tape measure and chalk and mark an even circle around the well. Trim excess turf off.

Use a claw hammer and excavate the interior of the well approximately 3 inches deep at the perimeter of the synthetic turf edge. Curl and tuck the synthetic turf into the soil with nails, spikes or staples to secure the edge.


Durable plastic material stands the test of time
Pliability makes it ideal for a variety of projects
Strength withstands weather and the human element
Made with recycled plastic
Sold in strips of 1″ x 4″ x 20′
Made in the USA

Polyboard is a remarkable alternative to today’s lawn edging products. It is is quickly becoming the preferred product for landscape applications in both the home and commercial landscaping industries.

Benefits of Polyboard

  • Look of redwood is an attractive feature for any project
  • Lasts longer than other lawn edging products
  • Waterproof
  • Won’t rot, split or crack
  • Thicker and stronger than other lawn edging products
  • Resists damage caused by weed-whackers and lawn mowers
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Simplifies lawn maintenance
  • Can be used multiple times for forming concrete walkways and patios

Pliable plastic material bends and conforms to a variety of shapes. Durability withstands multiple uses; very useful when forming concrete walkways and patios. Lasts longer than similar products made of wood. Polyboard is the most durable in lawn edging.

Tapered ends fit snugly together for a clean fit. Ends are strong and resist chipping and breakage.

Made from recycled materials for strength and environmental awareness. Sheds water and withstands damage caused by weed-whackers and lawn mowers. Material resembles beautiful redwood, but maintains the durability of plastic.

Installation is similar to installing other edging products, requiring tools such as edgers, shovel, spade, trowel, mallet, string, rake, etc.

Wonder Edge

Want to make the install process simple and cut the time by 75 percent? Try Wonder Edge! This product is designed to create a smooth neat appearance for synthetic turf applications. After the installer compacts the base materials, apply the Wonder Edge product and then nail the turf to the product. Wonder Edge allows the installer to tuck the edge of the turf within the Wonder Edge’s borders.

Stay tuned for next month’s “Ask J.W.” installment! For more information or to contact J.W.: or call 888 846 3598.

Understanding Yarn Shrinkage

Shown below is a typical yarn shrinkage curve:

Once an unsupported yarn is exposed to a temperature (T) greater than initiation set point, shrinkage will occur and the yarn memory will then be reset to the exposed temperature (T).

For example, the tufted carpet is exposed to 75°C during the secondary backing process. The resulting face yarn shrinkage is 7% (ref. curve above). The yarn memory is then reset to 75°C, meaning:

1. Any further temperature exposure below 75°C will result in 0% shrinkage.
2. Exposure to temperature above 75°C, will then result in additional shrinkage following the shrinkage curve but at the rates showing on the newly reset axis. Re-heated to 88°C, the face yarn will shrink around 3% (ref. curve above) and the new memory is reset to 88°C.


A newly installed carpet will gradually adjust itself to the hottest temperature of the region. This is a normal process that will not affect the carpet performance and appearance, as long as the shrinkage adjustment is occurring in a uniform manner. However, localized or non-uniform heating of small areas will result in uneven pile height with in turn affects the carpet appearance.

Do’s and Don’ts

A few examples of localized heating to avoid:

1. During installation, DO NOT leave uncovered roll in direct sunlight. The black secondary backing will absorb heat and temperature of the first layer may be in excess of 90°C, resulting in severe localized uneven shrinkage. White plastic wrapping or a shaded area must be used for outside roll storage.


Temperature inside top layer of carpet roll left in the sun at 90°F ambient for a few hours.

2. For installation facing south at sun incidences from 11:30AM to 2:00PM, care must be taken to avoid sunlight reflection from highly reflective surfaces (windows, glass doors, white smooth surfaces, etc.) from reaching the turf as a narrow band (3″ to 10″) of reflected heat may reach temperatures in excess of the melting point of most plastics used in the artificial turf industry.


3. Avoid leaving any source of heat absorbent material on the turf during daylight hours. For example: clear or dark plastic sheets or metal, garden hoses, pool floats, toys, etc. will absorb heat at a higher rate than the turf and may caused localized shrinkage as the temperature may exceed the turf stabilization temperature.


Artificial Grass is for All, Not Just One!

As artificial grass lawns become more prevalent throughout the nation, more contractors and installers are faced with a common homeowner or commercial property owner complaint.

“Synthetic grass is so nice, but too expensive for me.”

Educate your clients about financing opportunities with the HERO program, otherwise known as Home Energy Renovation Opportunity. HERO partners with local governments in over 17 counties across California to make renewable energy products more affordable for installers and homeowners. It is the number one renewable energy finance program in the United States and offers financing for over 150,000 renewable energy products, artificial grass being one.

HERO offers a great opportunity for you and your clients to install renewable energy products such as SGW’s synthetic grass on lawns, commercial buildings. In order to qualify for this program, here are a few factors to take in consideration:

  1. All mortgage-related debt must not exceed 90 percent of a property value.
  2. Mortgage payments must be current at the time of application and property owners must not have had more than (1) 30-day mortgage late payment over the past year.
  3. Property tax must be current and no more than one late payment in the last three years.
  4. No outstanding liens, such as tax or mechanic’s liens.

In today’s landscaping marketplace, the need for renewable energy products is imperative to contractors, installers and their clients, however, the costs can be daunting. The HERO program offers a solution for you and your clients.

For more information about the HERO program or how to apply: