Artificial Grass Vs. Xeriscaping – What are the Differences?

An easy to maintain landscape that needs minimal water is a dream come true for many home owners. This dream can be achieved in different ways. Some turn to artificial grass, others turn to xeriscaping. Understanding the differences between the two can help homeowners to decide which type of landscaping is right for their home.

Differences Between Artificial Grass Vs. Xeriscaping

Some differences between artificial grass and xeriscaping are obvious, others are less so.



Xeriscaping is a form of drought tolerant landscaping made up of plants that need less irrigation than standard landscaping plants. Xeriscaping often takes the form of shrubs separated by mulch, small grassy areas and decorative stone pathways. A lot if work goes into the planning stages of xeriscaping to ensure that the landscaping is attractive, functional and that the plants can grow together harmoniously. Xeriscaping typically involves limited or no turfgrass, because of turfgrass’s watering requirements. Instead, xeriscaping is usually made up of a combination of native plants, succulents, drought-tolerant shrubs and trees.

Artificial Grass

Artificial grass has come a long way in the last several years. When many homeowners think of artificial grass, they picture short, spikey, flat rolls of plastic grass, mini-golf style. With the increase in demand for eco-friendly lawn options, artificial grass has been transformed. Artificial grass is now made from colored nylon, polyethylene, or polypropylene. It looks very much like traditional turfgrass, so much so that many have a hard time telling the difference. Artificial grass is easy to maintain, requires no watering and is as attractive up close as it is from a distance.

Pros and Cons

So, how do you pick between the two options? Many turn to pro and con lists to help them decide.

Pros of Xeriscaping

  • Natural beauty. Xeriscaping meets a need for homeonwers who want real plants growing on their property.
  • Changeable. With a xeriscaping landscape, old plants can be removed and new plants can be installed, just like any other form of landscaping.
  • Less irrigation, fewer costs. Xeriscaping can reduce a homeowner’s water usage by 60%. As a result, xeriscaping can reduce a homeowner’s utility costs by thousands over time.
  • Reduced maintenance. Although xeriscaping does need to be maintained, it often requires work than traditional landscapes. Use of mulch and landscape fabric helps control weed growth.
  • Fewer pesticides and chemical treatments. Green lawns require quite a few pesticides and chemical treatments in order to thrive; xeriscaping requires far fewer chemical treatments.

Cons of Xeriscaping

  • Limited turfgrass. For homeowners who have children, xeriscaping provides limited or no turfgass pass where children can play.
  • Different from traditionally accepted lawn. Xeriscaping is very different from the lush green lawn that many homeowners desire.
  • Still may need supplemental water/irrigation to support.  Although xeriscaping can cut back the need to water, it does not eliminate it.
  • Xeriscaping can be costly. Depending on the landscaper, the type of landscaping being installed and the type of landscaping being removed, xeriscaping can cost thousands of dollars to plan and implement.

Pros of Artificial Grass

  • Appearance of traditional lawn. Although it is made from synthetic material, artificial grass looks very much like the traditional lawns that homeowners desire.
  • Requires no water. Unlike xeriscaping, which does require some watering, artificial grass requires none at all.
  • Durable. Artificial grass does not wear out in high-traffic areas like natural grass.
  • Is not easily damaged by the sun. Natural grass can become dry and brittle when exposed to too much sun, but artificial grass stays the same under all weather conditions.
  • Costs nothing once installed. Artificial grass costs nothing to be maintained.
  • Very little maintenance. Artificial grass maintenance is easy when compared to xeriscaping.
  • Water permeable. Rain and other liquids can permeate artificial grass, so that the soil will absorb the liquid that falls on the grass.
  • Not vulnerable to pests and diseases. Whereas natural grass can be damaged by pests and diseases, artificial grass is not vulnerable to these problems.
  • Long-lasting. Typically, artificial grass will last between 15 and 25 years. The amount of time depends on the durability and quality of the product.

Artificial Grass Cons

  • High up front cost. Artificial grass can cost anywhere from $5 to $20 per square foot. Many homeowners find it takes around 7 years to recoup the costs from a standard grass installation.
  • It can be hot in direct sun.  Artificial grass is very warm in direct sun, which limit what can be done on the grass on any ordinary day.
  • It can’t be recycled.  Artificial grass finds its way to landfills when thrown away.
  • Artificial grass requires some maintenance. Weeds can still grow in the dust on artificial grass. Watering down artificial grass from time to time can get rid of dust.

When to Use (And Not To Use) Xeriscaping?

Xeriscaping is an excellent option for homeowners who favor real plants and natural landscaping, but who don’t have a lot of time for maintenance. Xeriscaping is also an excellent option for homeowners who want to cut back money spent on water, or who want to reduce their water usage to protect the environment.

That said, xeriscaping isn’t right for everyone. Mulch is a big part of xeriscaping, because it helps conserve moisture, shades roots and prevents weeds from growing. However, in homes where children reside, xeriscaping mulch can limit play areas on the lawn. For homeowners who don’t feel comfortable doing maintenance or yard work, xeriscaping may not be the best choice. Although xeriscaping requires little maintenance, it still requires some maintenance. Homeowners who have disabilities or who just lack time may not be able to care for xeriscaping properly.

When to Use (And Not To Use) Artificial Grass?

Artificial grass is an excellent resource for homeowners who want to cut back their water usage dramatically, but who also want to keep natural-looking grass. Artificial grass is also an excellent product for homeowners who want to save money on their utility bills.

For homeowners who prioritize having a green lawn for playing, walking barefoot, playing sports and doing other activities, they should be aware that artificial grass absorbs heat in a way that natural grass does not. This can be controlled by planting shade trees, which can help keep the lawn cool on hot summer days.

Work With An Expert

If you’re a homeowner who has an interest in saving money and water, or if you’re seeking environmentally-friendly landscaping, working with an expert can help. Contact a local artificial turf-grass dealer or a landscaper who specializes in xeriscaping to find out more.