More residents opting to install artificial grass on lawns September 16 2015

Keeping a manicured lawn in Houston, especially in the summer, is a hot and tiring job

HOUSTON -- How much time and money do you spend a month watering and keeping up your lawn? For many Houstonians, a true maintenance-free lawn is the most appealing.

Keeping a manicured lawn in Houston, especially in the summer, is a hot and tiring job.

"The lack of water for months on end, the time it takes to get people come and cut it," said resident Tony Hogg.

Hogg had enough. So a year and a half ago, he had fake grass installed.

"We wanted something that looked better than real," Hogg said.

He got the grass in Space City, the birthplace of fake grass, Astroturf. Synlawn's Terry Stricklin clarifies today's residential fake grass is not the same stuff as went into the Astrodome, but their company is owned by Astroturf.

Over the last three decades, the industry has developed all kinds of lookalike grass, such as St. Augustine, fescue, bermuda and thatch. Thatch comes complete with brown blades to make it look more natural.

Stricklin says the company does installations everywhere from rooftops in downtown Houston to putting greens and dog runs – some in backyards. For dogs runs, a special kind of sand under the artificial grass to absorb odors is installed.

Regular yards are a growing part of the business. The Synlawn distributer began in Houston six years ago.

"We may have done 40 or so (yards) in our first year," Stricklin said. "We are close to 300 homes a year now."

At $8 to $10 a square foot, synthetic grass typically goes into smaller spaces. For example, covering 600 square feet would cost anywhere from $4,800 to $5,200.

Taking into account water and yard bills, how long will it take to break even on the investment?

"Your payback is probably gonna be four to six years depending on size of yard," Stricklin said.

As for Hogg, he figures, "After three years it's free."