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It's been less than a month since the city authorized the installation of synthetic turf in residential yards.

Since then, two permits have been issued for use of the new material.

Dave Rice Jr., of Total Home Services, had it installed this last week at his home on South Barfield Drive.

"We wanted to have a spot in the yard where the kids could play. The only practical place was an area which never did grow grass very well," said Rice.

Once the city approved the synthetic turf, Rice began doing his homework and contacted a number of vendors and did a considerable amount of research on the varying types of products and companies who would install the material.

He eventually chose Richard Howard, the owner of Gator Grass, of Punta Gorda. He has considerable experience in the field and not only sells the material, but also installs.

Howard and his crew of two installers did the job last week.

"This is a custom blend we have manufactured for us and we offer it in a number of different variations, depending upon the application," said Howard as they worked on the project at Rice's home.

Initially the area will have 3 inches of the grass and topsoil removed and a base material laid in, leveled and compacted. A border will be installed, which will have the edges of the synthetic turf tacked to it to hold the material in place.

"We are careful to ensure the edge work looks natural, following the contours of the land, around stones and even roots," said Howard. "It really does give a genuine look to the end product."

Howard and his crew will be back on the island this week working for one of Rice's clients who wishes to have the product installed at their residence.

"The city and the staff have been extremely helpful regarding this project and we couldn't have asked for a better reception here on the island," said Howard.

"It's just an option that homeowners will now have," said Tami Scott of the city's growth management department.

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