Front yard or back, your artificial turf is the perfect under-footing for a haunted house. Before you get started, find out if you’ll need official permission, because some communities have public safety ordinances that preclude or govern these things. If you are planning the haunted house for invited guests only – say your kids are having a party – then you may be in the clear.
Planning your haunted house and deciding on props will be a lot easier if you draw it out on paper first.
Punch no holes!
It’s not cool to drive stakes into your artificial turf, because it will make permanent holes. But that’s no barrier to creating a “killer” haunted house. Instead, build your sets so they are free-standing. Props, too. Or you can secure them with sandbags, as long as you place them so no one will trip over them. Your guests may be wide-eyed with wonder or covering their faces in fear, but they won’t be looking at their feet!
Consider your audience
Make it simple or frighteningly complex, depending on the amount of space you have and the ages of your hauntees. Rooms and creepy hallways are better for little ones, a mysterious maze is great for teens.
For the walls, you can use sheets, flattened cardboard boxes, tarps or drop cloths – paint or dye them black. Create a framework from light wood or PVC pipe – in sections so it’s easy to assemble and then disassemble and store for next year.
Line the walls with dry cornstalks that rustle and seem to reach out to unwary passersby. Drape spider webs from dead branches overhead, and don’t forget to add big, fake spiders and other creepy-crawlies, fake severed body parts, monsters, pirates . . .
Don’t forget the lights, foggy effects, and sounds. Strobe lights are especially effective for creating an eerie ambiance and keeping visitors off-balance. Nonetheless, be sure your exit is well-lit so it’s easy to find. If you’re entertaining little kids, provide at least two exits in case they get anxious.
You can buy almost everything you need to create a haunted house, or you can save money and create just as much havoc. Use Styrofoam blocks to create headstones and other props. Make your own witches or other scary figures. Stuff old nylon stockings with rags or wadded paper to simulate arms, legs, and a torso (or use a plastic skeleton). Then add ragged clothing or costuming, a mask and wig, and pose your figure in place.
It’s easy to make your own blood and guts, too.
The idea is to create a space that’s creepy and scary, not dangerous. Make sure all your electrical cords, speakers, etc. are concealed where they won’t trip anyone or catch on clothing. Never, ever use real props such as knives, chainsaws, etc. And, never use real candles or other flammables. Light a path to the entrance with carved pumpkins.
Party hearty for a big finish
As your victims emerge, gather them inside the house for hot cider and cookies and around-the-campfire stories of their harrowing experiences inside your haunted house. Or gather them around a real campfire -- your patio fire pit -- for cocoa and roasted marshmallows and scary storytelling.
When it’s all over, cleaning your artificial turf is easy. If the grass is flattened from your staging or foot traffic, just get out the broom and re-fluff it. Gently but firmly, as they say. Good as new, pretty as ever. No one with natural grass will be able to say that!