When business owner Marty Huggins was leafing through the pages of Entrepreneur magazine in 2007, he had no idea that he would discover an idea that would change his life and transform the landscape of the Lowcountry. An article about how artificial lawn turf was migrating from the West Coast to the East Coast caught his entrepreneurial eye and piqued his interest. “I was looking for a new business opportunity that would take me out of the office. I loved that this venture was green and eco-friendly, so I visited the manufacturer to learn more,” says Huggins.
The visit planted the seeds for his company, Palmetto Moon Synthetic Turf. The South Carolina native and College of Charleston graduate launched the company and never looked back. For the first eight to nine years, Huggins invested sweat equity and installed the projects himself with a couple of workers. He now has a full crew and has grown 15% every year for the last five years; he is hiring additional employees to keep up with the growth. For the past 15 years, 80% of his business has been residential, with the remaining 20% coming from the commercial market.
Huggins notes that his customers are thrilled with their lawns. Along with saving money and conserving water, the myriad benefits of artificial grass include little to no maintenance, all-season greenery, no need for chemicals, pesticides or fertilizers, and it is recyclable and renewable. It is also great for people (and pets) with allergies. “One of the things that people don’t realize is that artificial lawn turf is now made to mimic the indigenous grasses grown throughout South Carolina, with Bermuda, fescue, zoysia, rye and St. Augustine among those manufactured,” says Huggins. Palmetto Moon Synthetic Turf carries 70 types of artificial grasses.
Some of the greenery you will see in the Lowcountry includes artificial lawns, putting greens, bocce ball courts, rooftops, pet grass and pet parks. More than half of the veterinarians in Charleston use Palmetto Moon Synthetic Turf, which is pet-tested and approved. Pets that visit the Barrel at Folly Road enjoy roaming and running on the green outdoor space. The team also installed the pet-friendly courtyard at River Rat Brewery, Shelter Kitchen and Bar, Moonshadow Pet Resort and Dog Daze, among many local apartment complexes. Along with being maintenance-free, the turf is hygienic, easy to clean and looks pristine 365 days a year.
“What we are putting into the soil is permeable, green and earth-friendly,” says Huggins. When you add up the cost savings of having no maintenance, irrigation costs and re-sodding expenses, the average client recoups their initial investment in four to five years. Huggins bumped into an attorney at a restaurant who commented that while his wife initially had to talk him into having the artificial lawn installed, now he is reveling in the fact that he hasn’t mowed the lawn in five years. Along with saving him hundreds of hours of tedious work, his dog loves it, and he and his wife adore having a fresh palette to look at year-round.
“Once people have turf, they want it all the time,” says Huggins, who proudly states that they often get repeat business when someone moves. He says his team does not cut corners on installations, and they use only the best products in the industry. He used to carry five different manufacturers, but he now primarily uses Shaw Grass and Synthetic Grass Warehouse, high-quality manufacturers that make their turf in Dalton, Georgia, both with TenCate yarn. “We use two types of infill—HydroChill, which keeps turf 30 to 50 degrees cooler than the standard synthetic lawn surface, and Envirofill, which contains the antimicrobial Microban. Both products are pet-friendly,” says Huggins, who notes that Palmetto Moon has a 15-year manufacturer’s warranty and a two-year labor warranty. The company is Shaw Grass’ only certified installer in the Lowcountry.
The company recently got into hardscaping by necessity and hired a new project manager to expand its portfolio of services to include lighting, pavers, patios, walkways, driveways and garage flooring. Huggins’ subs were three to six months out on hardscape, so he decided to start doing this in-house as he did not want his clients waiting that long to have their backyard oases completed. Huggins notes that as many people are now working remotely, the new lifestyle trend has people wanting to create outdoor getaways to spend more time in their backyards.
“Our goal is to do it right the first time,” says Huggins. “It’s cool to see all of our synthetic lawns across the Lowcountry. Our team enjoys the satisfaction of a job well done.” *
Stacey Marcus is a Boston-based freelance lifestyle, luxury and travel writer. Her works have appeared in Art New England, Boston, Boston Common Magazine, Coastal Design Magazine, Charleston Style & Design, Modern Luxury Chicago, Ocean Home Magazine, Playboy.com, RD.com and many others. A lover of big words and little white dogs, Stacey’s biggest joys are found in life’s simple moments.