Case Study: Artificial Pet Grass Vital for Pet Resort

KRISTEN EICHENMULLER News

Holiday Barn Pet Resorts in Virginia installs SYNLawn artificial pet grass to help keep its pet facilities and visiting dogs stay clean and healthy.

If you think taking care of one pet is a lot of work, then try several hundred. In any given day, Holiday Barn Pet Resorts may be handling more than 700 dogs and cats at their two Virginia locations. With this kind of traffic, it's important for commercial pet facilities like this one to have the right products in place that can handle the wear and tear. And in 2015, Holiday Barn Pet Resorts installed artificial pet turf from SYNLawn at its newest location. There are several reasons why it's keeping both the pet resort and its four-legged visitors clean and healthy.

Holiday Barn Pet Resorts

This family-run business, started by Emerson Hughes, opened its first pet resort in Glen Allen back in 1972. A few years later, Holiday Barn Pet Resorts opened its second location in Richmond. Their son, Michael Hughes, moved into operations in the late 1990s and became “head of the pack” in 2004.

Today, the 110 friendly staff members assist in providing luxury pet services and activities for their fur-baby clients. In order to meet the needs of local pet parents, the company built a 33,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility in Richmond in 2015. It was recognized as one of the “Top 10 Places to Pamper a Pooch” by the Travel Channel. One of the best features of this award-winning facility is its artificial grass for pets.

  • image of dogs at pet resort with synlawn
  • image of dogs playing at pet resort with fake turf

(Left) To help handle up to 375 pets a day, Holiday Barn Pet Resorts in Richmond, Va., installed nearly 16,000 square feet of SYNLawn. (Right) Dogs can enjoy swim time without getting muddy because of our clean, fast-draining SYNLawn artificial pet grass.

The Doggie Daycare Dilemma

Back in 2007, the company had a different artificial grass brand installed at their Glen Allen location. Due to the heavy activity over the years, the product is no longer rigid, and they aren't able to get the turf fibers to stand back up. But poor quality wasn't the only issue. “The real problem was if we had a dog tear or damage to the turf. We couldn't get any dealership to help. We would call, and nobody would return our calls,” explained Hughes. Additionally, the inexperienced turf company, that had only done two or three installs prior, would randomly show up to take care of repairs and ended up doing a sloppy job. As a result of the company eventually going out of business, the closest support the pet resort could get was inconveniently in Ohio. Frustrating dealer support led them to look for a better option.

  • image of dogs laying down on synlawn
  • image of dogs running outside on artificial pet grass

(Left) Dogs are able to spend more time outdoors because of our pet-friendly turf. (Right) The facility was designed to fit our 15-foot wide turf so that there are less seams.

The Deciding Factors

After adding a new area to one of the facilities, Hughes did some research on synthetic turf and found SYNLawn Chesapeake Bay in Millersville, Md. This family-owned and -operated business has been serving clients for almost six years but also offers 45 years of experience in the construction industry. “The confidence level of the install team that we had through SYNLawn was very, very good,” said Hughes.

After the local SYNLawn team made a repair at their existing site, Holiday Barn Pet Resorts decided to test SYNLawn on a smaller project three years ago. After being impressed with the responsiveness of the local distributor and the quality of the product, they decided to incorporate it into the design of their new location.

  • image of SYNTipede 214 artificial pet grass

(Left) Our SYNTipede 214 is a durable artificial grass that's perfect for pet resorts. (Right) The Omega technology adds dimensional stability so that these short pile fibers stay upright.

Choosing SYNTipede 214

After receiving some SYNLawn samples, the team decided to choose a grass made for high traffic because they thought it would last longer. SYNTipede 214 is a short pile, resilient product that features Omega technology, which provides added dimensional stability. Its dense polypropylene thatch adds strength, and the shorter pile is perfect for easy pet cleanups, which is why it's recommended for high traffic areas like commercial pet facilities.

With the hot summers, temperature was something they had to consider. “Another big part of my decision was how much cooler SYNLawn was than the previous product we bought. We don't have to wet that down as frequently,” said Hughes. This is because SYNTipede 214 includes exclusive HeatBlock™ Technology. Its infrared reflective pigments help the turf disperse heat, thus making our artificial grass up to 20 percent cooler than other similar products.

For a commercial application like ours, I don't see how a large-scale pet operation can't use a product like SYNLawn in order to maintain good health, safety and cleanliness.Michael Hughes, head of the pack at Holiday Barn Pet Resorts

The SYNLawn Installation Process

The new pet resort location was constructed from February to November of 2015, and, during that time, the SYNLawn team worked closely with the company's contractor. “If my contractor or I reached out to them with a question, they responded quickly,” he said.

With so many subcontractors involved, Hughes made special arrangements with the fencing company in order to best accommodate the 15,609 square feet of pet grass. During the design process, he took into consideration the 15-foot widths of the turf. Play areas would be created with these dimensions in mind in order to have the least amount of seams possible.

According to Kaitlyn Lord, one of the owners of SYNLawn Chesapeake Bay, the installation took approximately three to four weeks. She also added that one of the unique features of this install was the pet turf surrounding a dog-bone shaped dog pool, a favorite for some water-loving pooches. “SYNLawn is the perfect addition for surrounding a pool. There's no worry about the maintenance as if it was natural grass. The weed whackers and lawn mowers are no longer necessary, which helps with the carbon emissions and spillage of oil and gas, not to mention, the dirt and debris that make it into the pool. They can now enjoy a safe environment and spend less time worrying about the surroundings of their pool,” added Lord.

  • image of dog laying on snow over synlawn
  • image of staff shoveling snow over artificial pet grass

(Left) Even during the winters, dogs are able to enjoy the outdoors more often. (Right) Maintenance for our pet turf is easy, and these employees either use shovels or a snow blower to clear off the artificial grass.

Improved Maintenance

Not only is artificial pet grass a time saver, but it's also saving them money when it comes to maintaining artificial grass. The pet resort went from natural grass to rock to mulch before installing SYNLawn. They found the need to apply new rock and mulch every two to three months. “With that type of application, you really can't control parasites, foreign material or the possibility of the dogs going to ingest something. If you have a dog that likes to chew on wood, then they're going to eat a lot of the mulch,” replied Hughes. At the end of the day, many of the dirty dogs would need grooming at the expense of the resort due to a dirty surface and possible fecal matter. Because the pet grass drains well and is always clean, it “has really dramatically cut down on our dog cleanup time,” he said.

Day-to-day maintenance includes picking up any solids and rinsing down the turf when needed. “We don't get smells, so it's obviously working,” noted Hughes. The grooming brushes help pull up hair and dirt, and vacuuming takes care of any big clumps of pet hair. During the summer months, the staff wets down the turf from time to time. When it snows, they blast it right off using backpack snow blowers.

If we were on mulch or natural grass, we couldn't do 50 percent of what we do.Michael Hughes, head of the pack at Holiday Barn Pet Resorts

The Artificial Pet Grass Results

So far, Holiday Barn Pet Resorts hasn't had to repair any of their SYNLawn products. On the test site done three years ago, the fake grass sees a lot of traffic with up to 15 hours of walk times a day in addition to play time. “It's still upright and rigid, so we're really optimistic about the durability,” noted Hughes.

Having artificial turf allows the company to consistently execute their services. This provides customers with higher confidence and in turn helps the pet resort engage more customers. Participation in swim time, individual playtime, doggy daycare and training sessions has increased because the dogs can be outside more often. “If we were on mulch or natural grass, we couldn't do 50 percent of what we do,” stated Hughes.

It also has become a featured marketing tool utilized by Holiday Barn Pet Resorts. The play yards always look green and lush, and that impresses their clients, many who ask where they can buy it. “The health, safety and cleanliness of the pet will override and do away with a lot of those costs,” he said. “You can create almost a sterile environment, and that's just invaluable.” Even one of the managers and Emerson Hughes installed SYNLawn at their home.

After factoring in numbers generated by daycare along with labor costs, he believes the pet turf could be paid for in approximately three years. With SYNLawn's 15-year warranty, they won't have to worry about replacing their turf for many years after it has paid for itself. As for their Glen Allen location, Hughes hopes to start replacing up to 75 percent of the old turf sometime in early 2017.

  • image of large dogs sitting on artificial grass
  • image of dogs running at richmond va pet resort with artificial grass

(Left) Holiday Barn Pet Resorts has 110 employees taking care of dogs and cats at their two locations. (Right) More playtime is possible with the installation of our SYNLawn artificial grass for dogs.

Important Advice

According to Hughes, he stated that Holiday Barn Pet Resorts would never go back to using natural grass, mulch or even rock. “For a commercial application like ours, I don't see how a large-scale pet operation can't use a product like SYNLawn in order to maintain good health, safety and cleanliness. Once you do it, it just makes sense that that's what you've got to have,” he commented. It allows commercial pet facility owners to control things like allergens, which can be washed away, as well as alerting pet parents of possible illnesses due to spotting a dog's unusual urine or fecal matter on the turf.

For those considering a residential application due to health concerns or a yard that's difficult to grow grass, Hughes highly recommends using artificial pet grass. “The more your dog uses a poorly grassed area, you're going to have less grass because the urine is going to burn it out,” he said.

Add SYNLawn to Your Pet-Friendly Space

We customize our SYNLawn Pet Systems to meet the needs of any commercial pet facility or personal residence in Pepper Pike , OH. Contact to learn more about the features and benefits of our artificial pet grass.

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