By Matthew Power. Next time you finish a custom or semi-custom house, and you're staring at a barren, hard-packed surface that needs to be turned into a lawn, you might want to consider another option: machine-made golf greens.

These elemental hairpieces start at about $3,000 installed, with a 250-square-foot green averaging about $3,900, according to dealer Tom Foster of Scottsville, N.Y. But this isn't the old fluorescent green turf you remember from the miniature golf course. These new synthetics are made with interwoven ultraviolet-light-resistant, water-resistant polypropylene--and they don't need mowing or application of pesticides and fertilizers.

Foster sells the Mirage Synthetic Putting Green online and offers a 10-year limited warranty against excessive wear and fading for residential applications.

"Most of our competition offers sand-filled greens," Foster explains. "Those have long fibers held erect by sand between the fibers. But it's problematic stuff, because the sand compacts, and it's subject to weather."

The new turf has fibers that can bounce back easily. These new synthetics use a bent-grass-fiber system, tough enough so that the individual fibers stand up and bounce back.

"Preparing the site is akin to building a patio," Foster says. "You need to compact crushed stone that serves as a drainage field, and we try to give the green a couple of degrees of cant so water runs away from the area. Look for the highest, driest spot available--or use French drains."