Artificial grass is an increasingly popular alternative to traditional grass lawns. In this guide, we’ll look at some details about these lawns to help you decide if they’re right for you, followed by some brand suggestions and answers to common questions.
Is Artificial Grass Worth The Money?
Yes, but only if you’re planning to own the property long-term. Artificial grass is much more expensive than sod during its initial installation, but the lower maintenance costs make it an excellent long-term investment.
Real grass usually requires mowing and fertilizing to maintain optimal health. While you can install a lawn and largely ignore it, this isn’t allowed in most residential areas. Some local guidelines may even demand that you keep a yard in sufficiently good shape.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Artificial Grass
Here are the major upsides and downsides of artificial grass, as well as how it compares to real grass and concrete.
Pro: Water Conservation
Artificial grass requires essentially no water to maintain, although you may occasionally use hot, soapy water to clean it off. This radically reduces water usage, which is particularly helpful in drought-stricken areas.
Concrete also doesn’t require water to maintain, which means they’re tied in this category. Grass lawns in some areas can get away with no special watering plans, but this can lead to browner, somewhat uglier yards during some parts of the year.
Artificial grass is non-toxic to both humans and pets. Aside from being a safe place for kids to play, it means you don’t have to worry about any toxicity from fertilizer or similar products.
However, you may occasionally need to use a water-based herbicide to kill weeds.
Concrete is not particularly toxic, either.
Pro: Reduced Allergies
Artificial grass doesn’t produce grass pollen or other allergens. That only does so much if you’re allergic to tree pollen, but over a large enough area, an artificial lawn can help reduce the impact of allergies.
This is another area where concrete compares favorably to artificial grass.
Artificial grass is generally durable. It’s usually dig-proof against animals, resists stains, doesn’t fade quickly, and avoids fraying, all of which means you don’t have to do much to maintain it.
While no lawn material is impervious to damage, even if something manages to break a hole through it, you can repair the affected section by replacing it. Often, you’ll only need a few square feet of extra lawn at most.
Concrete slabs are prone to cracking over time. However, you can fill these cracks to minimize any damage. With proper maintenance, concrete will likely last for decades. That makes it an outstanding choice if you want the most durable surface you can get.
Pro: Reliably Safe Surface
Typically, artificial grass has a comfortably smooth surface, with no notable dips that chairs or feet could catch in. This makes it safer for children, adults, and seniors to run and play on.
Concrete is a little less safe than artificial grass. While usually flat, it’s also hard enough to be dangerous if someone hits it hard. Artificial grass isn’t a cushion, but it is a little softer than concrete and provides that much more protection.
Artificial lawns tend to be warmer than regular grass. The materials they’re made with hold heat better. Of course, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing during winter, but in summer, the extra heat can make an artificial lawn unpleasant to walk on.
Con: Odor Potential
Artificial grass won’t smell as long as you clean it regularly, but odors can build up if you don’t clean it. Some infills also tend to hold smells, and those are much harder to clean than the surface of an artificial lawn.
Con: High Up-Front Investment
Artificial grass offers savings over time, but the higher up-front cost can make it difficult to fit into some budgets. To some, that may seem like a significant drawback for an otherwise reliable material.
Concrete costs about $10 per square foot, though you can pay more if you want an elaborate design. That makes it competitive with artificial grass.
How Can You Tell Good Quality Artificial Grass?
Several factors make it clear whether you’re getting a high-quality artificial lawn or some lower-quality filler.
Start by looking for something with a realistic appearance. An obvious plastic appearance is a sign of low-quality products, and you should avoid those as much as possible. Realistic looks take effort and are therefore a primary indicator of quality.
Great artificial grass is also soft to the touch, with a decent number of holes to support drainage. Softer is generally better here, and it’s especially important if you expect to have children running around on the grass.
Finally, look for artificial lawns with reasonably high blade density. A good lawn will always look pleasantly lush, with plenty of thickness in each blade. Higher grades will also be more durable, and these are a good shorthand for overall quality.
8 Artificial Grass Recommendations
Here are our top recommendations for artificial grass.
1) Easy Turf (Most Realistic)
Easy Turf is an industry-leading manufacturer and well worth the investment if you want something realistic. They use multi-colored blades to mimic the growth and appearance of genuine grass, offering an outstanding choice for practically any buyer.
Even better, this company offers a 15-year warranty on its regular lawns, which is significantly higher than most of their competitors. That alone makes them worth checking out, although you can expect a comparatively high price to go with the quality of their products.
2) SYNLawn (Best Cool Lawn)
SYNLawn is a great choice for warmer areas, thanks to their DualChill technology. This is part of their broader Super Yarn technology, which is a marketing name for their unique production processes. The secret to this product is its use of molecules that reflect up to 42% more infrared radiation than other products.
The result is a noticeably cooler feel for any lawn made with this material. While that can be a deciding factor in warmer climates, buyers elsewhere may want to consider other options since warmer lawns typically melt much faster in winter.
3) LULIND Artificial Grass Square Tiles (Best For Small Areas)
This option is quite expensive if you want to cover a large area, but the manufacturer sells it in much smaller squares than competitors usually do. That makes it a top choice if you only need to lay grass in a small area, such as a pet enclosure.
The grass itself is 1 and 3/4” thick, which makes it among the thickest options on this list. It uses a mix of green and brown yarns for a natural appearance, and it even works well in aquariums. Consider something else if you want to lay out a full lawn, though.
PET GROW’s artificial lawn is an excellent faux grass turf that mixes multi-colored blades with a thick, durable pile. As the name suggests, this is especially good for pets thanks to its generally durable materials and resistance to acid from urine.
This is a great option, but it’s also somewhat more expensive than many of the budget alternatives we’ve checked out. That makes it harder to recommend to everyone, although you can expect excellent drainage and quick drying whenever it gets wet.
SunVilla’s artificial turf uses UV-resistant yarn and polyethylene on top of a durable latex base. This grass offers variety thanks to coming in four patterns and has a 10-year warranty for quality. That’s not quite on the level of our top choice, but it’s still better than most of the competition.
Notably, SunVilla doesn’t actually need infill in many environments. This can be advantageous, especially if anyone’s going to play on top of it, but it usually does fine without. Avoiding infill can significantly reduce installation costs and make an already good choice into something even better.
This 1” thick rug features a dark, natural green color that holds up year-round. Some users have found it slightly artificial, but it works, and it’s available in so many sizes that it’s easy to fit it into almost any yard.
The surface itself is olefin, another name for polypropylene. This is a reasonably safe and environmentally friendly material that’s resistant to chemical stains and does well under sunlight. While not quite our top choice, it’s affordable and a worthy second choice for most buyers.
LITA’s premium grass is surprisingly economical for its quality, making this a good choice for budget-conscious buyers. It features three layers, including polypropylene fabric for durability, a grid panel for support, and a latex glue layer to keep it in place.
This choice is 1 and 3/8” high, which is noticeably taller than some of the other options on this list. The rubber backing, often made from recycled tires, also provides a natural infill and some springiness that other materials can’t replicate. Together, these make it quite pleasant to walk on, but it can get warmer than other products during summer.
Despite the name, this is a great choice for non-dog setups as well. It’s affordable, reasonably high quality, and rubber-backed for a non-slip surface. The manufacturer also claims this is a fadeless material, which is ideal for brighter areas.
This artificial turf mostly avoids smells from manufacturing, but it may need some fluffing to perk up the blades after shipping.
Here are some common questions people have about artificial grass.
How Much Does It Cost to Have Artificial Grass Laid?
Artificial grass costs roughly $5 to $20 per square foot, depending on factors like the quality of the material and who you’re hiring to install it. Up to $8 of this is the material itself, though you can find reasonably good-quality artificial grass on the lower end of this pricing spectrum.
Self-installation is noticeably cheaper than professional jobs. However, pros are more likely to use better materials, make sure the area has proper drainage, and otherwise ensure a high-quality job. If your lawn lasts longer, this can mean it’s cheaper, in the long run, to hire a pro rather than constantly replacing the lawn itself.
Is Artificial Turf Cheaper Than Grass?
Not right away. Good sod may average around 40¢ per square foot, which is significantly cheaper than artificial grass. This is especially true if you’ve got some time for it to grow in, and you can let it spread naturally.
However, this is only true for the up-front costs. Artificial turf usually pays for itself after about seven years since there are almost no maintenance needs. Good sod requires water, fertilizer, mowing, and time, all of which add up to greater long-term investment.
Artificial turf is most valuable if you expect to spend a long time at your current residence. It’s especially practical if you have a relatively small yard or want to minimize the amount of maintenance you do for your property.
What Maintenance Is Required For Artificial Grass?
Most artificial turf doesn’t need much maintenance, but it does require the occasional care to keep it in top shape and maximize its lifespan.
The first tool for maintaining artificial grass is a turf brush. Going over the lawn monthly will help keep the blades upright and perky. Wait about three months after installing your turf before you start brushing, though. This gives it time to settle into place and helps ensure you won’t dislodge anything important.
You may also see the occasional weed poking through your turf. Water-based herbicides are the best choice here. Don’t forget to remove leaves, pet waste, and other debris regularly. This will help ensure the drainage systems keep working, which is essential to proper weed control.
That said, try to remove anything that could cause stains. Hot, soapy water is usually enough to clean the area, especially if you get to it quickly. Make sure to avoid harder chemicals like bleach.
Can I Lay Artificial Grass On Soil?
Yes, but it’s better to put a sub-base over soil unless the manufacturer specifically says it’s okay to put their turf directly on top of the soil. The main concern here is drainage. If the base stays too wet, your artificial lawn will deteriorate far faster. Worse, standing water could help breed insects or encourage weed growth.
Fortunately, there are many viable options here. Common choices for sub bases include gravel and crushed rock. Some sand is also good, but don’t put too much of that, or you might start to see dips in the area. High-quality sub bases will feel like concrete, though with better drainage.
Can You Put Artificial Grass On A Wall?
Sure! You can put most types of artificial grass on walls. The exact installation method depends on the wall’s substance.
If you’re installing your turf on concrete, you can use artificial grass glue to adhere it directly to the wall. This is often available directly from the manufacturer. If you’re buying from a different company, make sure their product works with your turf’s backing.
For other materials, you can make a template using cardboard to see where to drill the holes, then screw the artificial turf into the wall. This generally works well as long as you hold each piece in tightly and use enough screws to prevent sagging.
How Long Will Artificial Grass Last?
The lifespan of artificial grass varies based on factors like how much wear and tear it sees, how much sun exposure there is, and how good the drainage is. Most manufacturers don’t rate their turf for more than eight years, but higher-quality artificial grass can realistically last ten to fifteen years.
If the base is still good, replacing the artificial grass will be faster, easier, and cheaper than the initial installation. That drastically reduces the cost of new artificial grass, helping it remain financially viable long-term.
Can You Vacuum Artificial Grass?
Yes, but it’s usually better to brush your artificial grass first. This gets rid of most dirt and debris, especially if you’re using a brush from the manufacturer. Vacuums are better if saved for particularly stubborn debris or annual cleanings. Some places sell vacuums designed for artificial turf.
What Is The Best Thing To Put Under Artificial Grass?
Many setups for artificial grass have several layers beneath them to provide drainage and support. Aside from gravel as the main helper, silica sand is an especially useful thing to put under artificial turf. It’s durable, drains well, and helps with protection from UV rays.
Sunlight is one of the main threats that artificial grass faces, so the more you can protect it, the better off your grass will be.
Can Bugs Live In Artificial Grass?
That’s another yes, but most of them won’t want to live there full-time. Most bugs prefer natural grass because it offers both food and shelter. Artificial grass is largely inedible to them, while the sturdy base stops them from burrowing or finding homes.
In most cases, installing artificial grass will sharply reduce the number of bugs present around your lawn. You may still see a few insects around the edges, but they probably won’t move towards the middle of the lawn. If you sweep your lawn monthly, you should get rid of any stragglers.