The Pros and Cons of Artificial Grass
- By: Cheli Scott
- Date: Dec 21 2022
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The pros and cons of artificial grass
Every homeowner wants a beautiful lawn, but grass comes with maintenance and can be unpredictable, so we’ve assembled the pros and cons of artificial grass to help you decide what is right for you.
Artificial grass has come a long way from the tacky, fake grass of years ago. Advances have been made in the past decade and now there are options available for a more appealing look. It might be time to take a second look at whether or not artificial grass is right for your garden.
Synthetic lawns can be beautiful, green spaces that you and your family can enjoy.
Types of artificial turf available
There are a number of types of artificial turf available for a variety off different purposes. You will want to look for options that are for residential landscaping and made for the outdoors in soft greens. Fake grass is used in animal shelters, to line truck beds, on sports fields, on putting greens, as decoration, and more.
Because of this, you can purchase artificial grass products in a number of piles and colors. Turf comes in three basic materials for artificial lawns.
Polypropylene artificial grass is an inexpensive turf that can be used for a small lawn. It comes in many styles and and is resistant to moisture. It’s also a very thin and soft turf, for a natural look and feel in your garden or back yard.
However, it is not as durable as other artificial grass products and tends to flatten quickly. If you choose this artificial turf, make sure you buy artificial grass that has additional UV protection, because it is does not stand up well to lots of hot sunlight.
Polyethylene fake grass is a more durable artificial grass that looks and acts the most like real grass. It is soft enough to be comfortable on your feet and springs back after being walked on.
This artificial turf is water resistant, draining well, so it can be used for pet owners. Since it can be more sensitive to UV light than other turf you should make sure to buy artificial grass with extra UV protection.
Nylon artificial turf requires the least amount of upkeep of the types of artificial grass listed. This is the type of artificial turf used on putting greens.
It is a very durable turf and stands up to UV light well. While it’s durability makes it spring back and not flatten easily, it can also cause abrasions, known as “turf burn”, when you, or more likely kids, slip or slide across it.
This fake grass should never be used for sports turf. Because of that, it’s not an ideal turf to go under playground equipment in your backyard, but can be used for a backyard putting green.
Because it stands up so well to heat, it is an ideal turf for rooftop patios or anywhere that gets a lot of sun. However, it is often used as a secondary fiber in other types of artificial turf, so consider it if you want to add extra pile and durability to another type of turf.
Things to look out for when purchasing
There are a number of things to think about when purchasing synthetic grass. Be sure to shop around for the best prices and highest quality as there are a lot of different synthetic grass products available for many different uses. When choosing a landscaper to have your synthetic grass installed, look for ones that give a free consultation.
Pile is the measurement of the blade length of each of the pieces of grass. You want to choose a pile that has a natural grass look, but is also not too long. Long blades of grass will bend over time and look flat.
You can revive flat artificial grass by sweeping it with a broom, but you don’t want to have to spend all of your time sweeping to keep it looking nice. Too short of a pile will just look like green carpet. Between 30 and 37 centimeters is a good, natural looking pile.
If you are using your grass for kids or animals to play or for putting greens, you may want a lower pile. A lower pile will allow a ball to roll unhindered and wont flatten when kids run over it.
When you are shopping for artificial grass products there are different synthetic turfs that are better for different conditions. Consider if the area you are covering is high traffic or if it will be used by pets or children. If you are using a part of your yard as a putting green, you will want different artificial grass than if you are using it to play on.
Artificial grass used for pets must be water resistant with a backing that drains easily. It should also be resistant to staining, to keep it looking nice. There are many synthetic turf products that are designed specifically for pets. Animal shelters tend to use synthetic turf because it is easy to clean and doesn’t get ripped up by paws and claws.
If you are using your artificial grass for your kids to play on every day, it needs to be durable enough to stand up to frequent usage. Additionally, some artificial grass does not stand up to heat well, so it is important to think about whether the area you are covering gets a lot of sun.
The density, or face weight, of the artificial grass tells you how many fibers are in a square yard. More fibers will result in a more plush, softer feel under foot. They will also make your artificial grass more expensive. It’s important to find a good balance between density, comfort, and cost. If you intend to use your artificial grass for a putting green you will want to choose a density of 40-60 oz. per yard, to ensure the ball can roll properly.
When choosing artificial grass you want to find something with natural greens, not an unnatural green that looks out of place. To achieve the most natural grass look, choose an artificial grass that combines multiple colors of green. The mix of light and dark greens will give the artificial grass some natural variation as you would see in natural grass. You will also want to look for softer greens that look more real.
Make sure you also look carefully at the color if you are in a show room. Indoor lights can skew the look of greens. Ask if you can take samples and look at them in full sunlight so you can see what color green the grass will actually be outdoors.
Pros of synthetic grass
The most obvious benefit of artificial grass is the low lawn maintenance. You don’t have to water, mow, seed, or weed. You save money on seeds and fertilizers because none are needed. Turf can make an appealing green backyard that you wouldn’t even know was artificial.
Maintenance of artificial turf is simple. You will need to spot clean synthetic grass for small stains and use a brush or broom to fluff the grass blades. For outdoor uses, you can also hose off your artificial grass if it is collecting pollen or dust.
Artificial turf doesn’t change no matter the season and looks good year round. It doesn’t require irrigation, so it can save money on water bills. Synthetic grass also saves water and can allow you to have a green lawn in areas with water conservation restrictions.
Synthetic turf is great for dog owners. Synthetic turf makes a good place for dogs to go potty without destroying real grass, which tends to die and change from it’s healthy green color with repeated use. Synthetic turf doesn’t collect mud and doesn’t attract pests like fleas and ticks. For the best results, you will want to choose a turf with greater capacity for water absorption and good drainage. To keep your turf nice and green you will want to clean pet messes quickly so they don’t stain.
Good quality artificial grass can last for 25 years. Over the long run, synthetic turf is less expensive then maintaining a natural grass lawn.
Cons of synthetic turf
There’s no way to get around the fact that artificial grass is not real grass, but if you are looking for an alternative lawn cover to natural grass, artificial turf is an option you should consider. Here are some of the few cons you can expect.
Synthetic grass has a larger up front investment, while there are affordable options available, you may have to pay to have it installed. While you can install new grass yourself, a professional landscaper will ensure your long term investment is better protected and more appealing. Badly installed artificial grass looks terrible.
It also tends to get hot under direct sunlight. This can be dangerous for dogs and kids, as well as uncomfortable on your feet.
You can hose the artificial turf off with water to cool it down, but it can be an inconvenience. You can look for artificial grass products with qualities that mitigate this effect or talk to your landscaping professional about installing sprinklers for your synthetic turf.
Why choose natural grass over an artificial turf lawn
Some people just want grass and artificial turf won’t do. Grass feels pleasant under foot and smells nice. It has other benefits, as well. A nicely maintained grass lawn raises your property value. There is also some research that says a green lawn is good for your mental health.
It’s good for stormwater management, slowing the absorption of water into the soil and preventing erosion. Since there are no roots in an artificial turf lawn it can’t do the same work of keeping soil in place and filtering water.
Grass also doesn’t have the same problem with heat as synthetic grass. It actually has a cooling effect and can be up to 14 degrees cooler than bare soil, while synthetic turf tends to get very hot under bright sunlight.
Other alternative ground covers
Organic grass and artificial turf aren’t the only thing you can use as lawn cover in your backyard. There are other low lawn maintenance, appealing landscaping options that make good alternatives to turf. These alternatives can also be mixed with synthetic turf in your garden for an overall more natural look. They are also great if you live in an area with water restrictions, because they generally require less water than a lawn.
Drought tolerant plants
There are a myriad of drought tolerant plants you can use as ground cover for your yard instead of synthetic grass. Many of them are very attractive and some even have flowers. It’s important to use drought tolerant plants if you want to keep your yard low maintenance. These plants are an eco friendly alternative to grass fields.
Ground cover plants help reduce the never ending battle with weeds, don’t require mowing, and can be just as lush and walkable as grass for your back yard.
Creeping thyme, for example, forms a dense groundcover that can withstand foot traffic. As you walk on it, the leaves give off a pleasant scent and it produces white and pink flowers in the late spring. Other creeping perennials come in a variety of greens to simulate a green area of grass.
There are many other plants you can explore that make good turf alternatives. If you want an alternative to green, Ajuga, a matting ground cover comes in purple, green, and pink.
Gravel can be used on an entire outdoor area as ground cover or for small areas to break up your yard and reduce the amount of other turf you need. It is low maintenance and lasts a long time, though you may want to refresh it as it settles.
You can buy pea gravel, decorative rock, or river rock to use to cover your yard. Gravel comes in many colors and sizes, giving you a lot of variety. Pea gravel is inexpensive and drains well.
On the other hand, gravel does tend to get hot and it doesn’t feel very pleasant on bare feet.
Moss makes a beautiful, lush green ground cover in the right conditions. Moss does not require mowing and can tolerate poor soil. Though they prefer shady areas, they don’t have particularly high water needs and can be just as low maintenance as an artificial lawn. Mosses come in different shades of green to match any landscaping.
They are not as durable as artificial turf and are not good for high traffic areas.
Enjoy your lawn!
Whatever you choose, lush, green lawns are meant to be enjoyed. Whether it’s watching you children play or playing on your own personal putting green, your lawn is a huge part of your outdoor experience. It’s important to hire the highest quality, experienced installers for an artificial turf lawn to give it the longest life possible and protect your investment.