Real Grass vs. Artificial Turf

While artificial turf used to only be the stuff of miniature golf courses, it has come a long way over the years. In fact, artificial turf is now a popular option for home landscaping, as homeowners look for a low-maintenance, attractive way to add some greenery to their yards. 

But how does artificial turf stack up against real grass? What are the pros and cons of each, and which is better for your specific needs? Should you consider adding artificial turf to your yard? 

When answering these questions, there are a few things to consider.

Appearance & Feel

Fresh green grass is beautiful, but getting fresh green grass can be difficult. You might spend a good amount of time and money planting, fertilizing, watering, trimming, and otherwise caring for your grass, only to have a mysteriously brown lawn (probably not the look you were going for).

Artificial turf, on the other hand, is evergreen from day one. Most options today are even UV stabilized, so they don’t fade in the sun. It’s hard to argue against a lawn that always looks healthy and fresh.

On the other hand, quality of product makes a huge difference when it comes to creating a realistic appearance with artificial turf. Some “fake grass” can be spotted from a mile away, making it crucial that you work with landscaping experts when choosing artificial turf for your lawn. 

When comparing real grass and artificial turf, it’s important to think about the feel of the product, as well as the look. Real grass is soft and natural feeling, and while some artificial turf products focus on creating a pleasant feel, some people just can’t get past the feel of fake grass, calling it scratchy or crunchy. Along the same lines, many people don’t like the sound of artificial turf, which can make a rustling noise when walked on.

Installation & Initial Cost

While installation of neither option is particularly complicated, there are some differences. Artificial grass goes down quickly (essentially as fast as laying carpet) and looks perfect immediately. If you choose to use real grass, it can take a while to grow and look good (depending on what product you use). It’s also more labor intensive, with several steps that need to be followed in order to install it properly. 

There’s also the cost. While the cost of artificial turf can vary depending on the product you choose and how much of it you need, it’s safe to say that artificial turf is always going to be significantly more expensive to install than real grass. That said, artificial turf can last as long as 25 years—which is a long time to go without paying for maintenance costs like water. This means that even though artificial turf is a bigger investment up front, homeowners who will be in their homes for a while will probably get come out ahead when it comes to overall cost. 

Maintenance & Environmental Impact

Many homeowners consider this to be the biggest draw to artificial turf. It’s perfectly green grass that you never have to water, trim, or mow. It doesn’t need to be seasonally reseeded or protected from pests. 

Because of this, many people consider artificial turf to be an environmentally-friendly alternative to real grass, which requires a lot of water to keep alive. Mowers and trimmers needed to maintain real grass also release emissions into the air, making low-maintenance artificial turf even more appealing. 

Still, keep in mind that most current artificial turf products are not recyclable, meaning they’ll end up in a landfill at the end of their life. 

Other things to consider 

We’ve already covered the major comparison points between real grass and artificial turf, but there are a couple other points we need to make quickly as well.

Heat: Real grass actually cools your yard (as the water on the blades evaporates). Artificial turf tends to absorb heat, making it very hot to the touch on hot days, especially if not kept in the shade. 

Allergies:If someone in your home has an allergy to real grass, then artificial turf provides an exceptional alternative and should definitely be considered. 

Pets: Pet waste is absorbed and broken down by real grass, but not by artificial turf. Because of this, pet owners will want to be wary of installing artificial turf instead of real grass.

HOA requirements: Some HOAs do not allow homeowners to install artificial turf. This rule commonly applies to front lawns only, but may apply to backyards as well. Make sure you’re aware of your community’s rules before choosing to install artificial turf.

Real grass and artificial turf are both aesthetically pleasing ways to add a little green to your landscape, but there are definitely considerations you need to take before deciding which option is best for you. Whatever you choose, be sure to enlist professionals to help you design and install your landscaping; your lawn is worth the investment!

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