Astroturf Dish Drainer




Introduction: Astroturf Dish Drainer

About: Architect, Urban Designer, all-round tinkerer of odds and ends. Small solutions for big city living. Dreaming of lands faraway where garages are big enough to build a workshop in, or lakes are there for taki...

So what do you do with leftover astroturf samples and a sink that runneth over with dishes? Make an astroturf dish drainer, of course! This contemporary mod-drainer brings a little colour into the dreary job of dish-washing, and is presentable enough to remain in full view on my kitchen counter.

Heck, this might even double up as a fun serving tray for parties. And with all that green, you might even trick yourself into believing that the air is ever so slightly more oxygenated. Read on!

Step 1: 'How It All Began', or 'Listen to Your Wife'

May I present exhibit A: the bone of contention with my wife, who thinks that an in-sink drainer is a terrible waste of the precious second sink in our kitchen island. I think working with one sink is perfectly sufficient, but the clutter in the dish drainer is starting to annoy me. We do have an overhead dish-drainer behind the sink, but it's just too troublesome to reach up with wet dishes dripping down your arm sometimes! Plus I might have made that overhead dish-drainer slightly too tall for my wife to use comfortably. My bad!

Anyhow, the inspiration for dish rack came from this post: I love the terrifically minimalist design, but the materials (a cheap fibre-board frame and a plywood base) seem like they would get soggy and disintegrate after a while.

So I filed the idea away in the back of my head, and kept a lookout for waterproof materials that I could use for a similar rack. My main criterion: that any water accumulating below the grass should drain out again into the sink, so that everything stays dry and hygenic.

Step 2: Materials: the Scavenger Hunt

I wish I had a full metal-working workshop in my garage... but since I don't have a garage, I had to make do with mostly pre-made materials. Honestly the hardest part was finding the right materials. Assembling the tray was a breeze. Here's what I found around town.

Frame: STROMBY frame from IKEA. 30x40cm inside dimension. This is Aluminium, so it is legit. Won't rust, won't get water damaged. I liked that it was simple and minimalist, without any moulding. Perfect! And inexpensive.

Base: Perspex Sheet. You could buy a large sheet and cut it to size with a razor and straightedge, but I already had leftover perspex lying around from some other photo frames, and in the exact dimensions I needed! Awesome. 30x40cm.

Drainage Mat: I needed a drainage layer to keep the astroturf off the base, to allow water to drain off easily. This prevents the astroturf from sitting soggily in water, growing algae and whatever. I got some plastic drainage mats at the $2 shop, and cut them down to size with a razor blade.

Astroturf: I had lots of synthetic turf samples from different suppliers lying around. They'll give them to you for free if you're thinking of laying down a yard full of the stuff. Or, some garden shops sell these by the yard.

Step 3: Let's Get Started! Prepping the Tray, Aka Smash and Grab

This was a disaster. The aluminium frame came with a sheet of glass hot-glued into the frame, and no amount of coaxing could get it out.

Then I figured I could leave the glass in place permanently, and use it as the base of the tray. "All I have to do", I told myself, "is add a small hole at the corner to let the water drain out". Famous last words! Even with careful scoring using a glass scorer at the corner of the glass, the entire panel cracked right across when I chipped away at the corner.

Oh well.

Plan B kicked into gear: I wrapped up the frame in newspaper, smashed out the glass with a mallet, and removed the remaining hot-glued edge shards with pliers. Fun times.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I replaced the glass with perspex (acrylic) sheets, with a small cut-out at the corner for drainage. I hot-glued this all round the edge to make it waterproof.

Step 4: Phew! Cookie Time

After that fiasco, I figured it was time for a break. Cookie time! Seriously, it would have been so much easier just buying a frame with perspex instead of glass, or starting with a metal tray and drilling a hole in the bottom.

Step 5: Water Tightness Test

Time to test out the water-tightness of the hot-glue seals. With a little elevation at one end, the water drained beautifully off the tray and into the sink.

The second image shows the layering of this dish drainer: Astroturf on top, drainage layer below, and acrylic at the bottom. Works like a charm.

Step 6: Voila!

It works so well, I made 2!

The astroturf samples weren't large enough to fill the whole tray, so I intentionally contrasted shaggy turf with short-cropped turf as part of the design. This sort of indicates different zones for utensils vs cups, for example. The shaggy grass also helps hold cups and bowls, and prevents them from rolling around.

The astroturf and drainage layer simply sit within the frame, so that they are easily removable for washing.

Okay enough chatter, enjoy the photos!



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    31 Discussions


    1 year ago

    I love the look of this but it would be a bacteria breeding ground just like scouring sponges, would be too hard to clean and I'd never know if it truly was


    2 years ago

    Yes, the risks of the under layers of turf fields is known, but what about the lead in the grass blades? I've heard terrible stats on levels of absorb-able lead in astroturf, artificial Xmas trees and artificial flowers.. Is it the green color?

    This is beautiful! I want to make this so badly. Just need to procure some astroturf...

    YOU ARE AWESOME! I just loved this idea!

    Wow, that looks great. Good photos, good step-by-steps.

    I love this so much! I need it!!! Going to hunt for AstroTurf now; but, I MUST ask this first - what is an overhead dish-drainer?

    2 replies

    Something like this: Usually mounted in the upper cabinets above/near the sink. Have fun!


    Hmmm...very interesting... Thank you for the reply :) Happy New Year!!!

    Sometimes you see an idea that's good in it's own right, but I've noticed a number of comments here about the possible dangers of using astroturf with eating tools

    So how about this :-- remove the top of a grow bag, lay it on the worktop and plant with a good quality grass seed, when this grows to a suitable height, trim it with a pair of small scissors, the results should be just as safe as having a picnic in a park, just keep your dogs away !

    This is awesome!!!!

    I have a suggestion for cleaning the 'dish-turf'..... fill a spray bottle with equal amounts of peroxide & water, and just a couple of drops of liquid dish detergent. Spray the astro-turf well on both sides, let sit for a few minutes & rinse it well by spraying it with hot water or holding it under the faucet.

    I bought a "puppy park" for my chihuahuas to use while I was at work, it is astro-turf that sits in a plastic tray. I clean it the same way (except I use the bathtub instead of the kitchen sink). Cleaning has only been necessary every couple of days (they don't always have to use it)....and there has been no build up of odor after months of use.

    Peroxide is one of my favorite things to use for cleaning, especially cutting boards.

    very cool. You could even cut the "grass" to make a logo. The only worry I have is, is it food safe?

    1 reply

    Well I don't intend to eat off it! It's safe enough for potentially grabby/chewy kids and animals to play on, so I'm not worried. :)

    Everyone be careful when using Artificial Turf, many studies have shown an increase of athletes playing on turf. They have been slowly ripping out turf and switching to natural fields or ones made of shoes (Nike). The rubber crumbs have been shown to have chemicals and carcinogens such as: arsenic, chloroethane, latex, lead, mercury, phenol, nickel and
    isoprene, and others. So either make sure the turf has no hazardous materials or make sure the turf isnt crumbling.

    2 replies

    It's the rubber infill that could be a problem not the turf. It's used to keep the turf from becoming matted over time and provide a degree of cushion. Artificial turf/grass by itself has no rubber infill. Anyone purchasing artificial grass or using samples won't have any of these issues.

    Exactly as david said, the artificial turf samples don't come with any rubber crumbs. In fact, my suppliers now use some sort of fine silica sand instead of rubber infill when they install the artificial turf. They explained that the sand is better for drainage and heat absorption, and because it is finer than rubber it also sinks down to the 'roots' of the 'grass' blades instead of getting kicked up all the time. I suppose the chemicals could be an issue as well.

    I would never get away with this in my kitchen. Would a cookie sheet be a better solution for the base? This one is from Kohl's and it already has ridges for drainage.

    1 reply

    This could work, if the ridges are deep enough. But I wanted my solution to be completely sealed up within the frame so that it was sleek and simple from the side. Give it a shot!

    So that's what astroturf is, we call it artificial grass!

    Awesome idea, it would certainly get some double-takes with visitors around!