Many homeowners pride themselves on their beautiful lawns. When you walk by an even, green, well-manicured yard, you instantly know that the resident spends a great deal of time and money on lawn care.
But what if you could achieve this gorgeous look without all the time and money? Artificial turf is the solution.
In this article, we’ll describe exactly what artificial turf is, and how it can contribute to the overall look of your home.
Then, we’ll compare artificial turf to natural grass based on aesthetics, maintenance, cost, and environmental impact.
We’re confident that by the time you’re done reading, you will be ready to install artificial turf in your own yard!
What Is Artificial Turf?
Artificial turf, or artificial grass, is exactly what it sounds like: a type of grass that is made from nonnatural, man-made fibers. These fibers are usually made of polyethylene, polypropylene, and nylon and sewn onto a kind of backing, in much the same way that carpet is made.
You may have heard of “AstroTurf,” which is very similar. Artificial turf was first used in 1966 in the Houston Astrodome sports stadium, which is where it got its name.
It became popular in sports stadiums of all kinds throughout the latter half of the 20th century. It also began to be used in less obvious locations, such as public green spaces and, of course, home lawns.
Aesthetics: Can You Tell If a Lawn Is Artificial by Looking at it?
Good question. The answer is no, not usually, especially not modern artificial turf.
There was a reason that during the first few decades after its development, artificial turf was relegated to sports arenas: it didn’t look very real. But as technology improved, that has changed.
These days, artificial turf looks very real. Most manufacturers include slight variations in color, even including small brown patches, to make it appear more real.
Modern artificial turf even feels real. The technology has improved so much that to tell the difference from natural grass, you would have to try to conduct a closer inspection to find out.
Maintaining a lawn that is consistently as green and well-manicured as artificial turf is practically impossible or requires an incredible amount of time and effort.
With artificial turf, you don’t have to worry about weeds or crabgrass, you will never have brown patches appear, and you don’t need to worry about who is going to mow it when you are out of town. What a relief!
Maintenance: Artificial Turf Versus Grass
When it comes to maintenance, there is no contest between artificial turf and real grass. Artificial turf requires so much less maintenance that it is almost unfair to compare the two.
One of the biggest pluses when it comes to maintenance is the fact that artificial grass does not need mowing.
Most lawns need to be mowed once every one to two weeks, and when you think about the process from start to finish, it probably takes you a couple of hours. What else could you be doing with that time?
What’s more, it isn’t just the maintenance of the actual grass, you also have to maintain all the equipment it takes to do so. The most major of these are your lawn mower and trimmer, both of which require either gas or rechargeable batteries and upkeep of their own, not to mention you have to devote valuable garage or shed space to storing them.
The most maintenance that artificial turf requires occurs during the initial installation phase. Once that is complete, there is not much you need to do to maintain your beautiful lawn.
The hardest part of installing artificial turf STILL has to do with real grass: you have to remove the grass that has caused you so much trouble over the years. You will need to remove four inches of grass and earth to install it properly; that’s a lot, so you need a dumpster of some kind in which to put all of it.
Once that is done, you need to add the base. Again, four inches should do it, and most people use road base. Then you can lay down the turf and cut it to fit your space.
To finish, nail down the artificial turf using turf nails or staples every six inches along the perimeter and every two feet everywhere else. Finally, lay down and brush turf fill. Brushing should be done with a power broom, which you can probably rent at a hardware store.
Sound complicated? It is, which is why we recommend hiring professionals to do it.
You might be able to get an all-in-one package, which will allow you to buy the artificial turf from the same people who do the installation. If not, call around to a few lawn care/landscaping companies to find someone experienced and capable.
The important thing to remember is that once all of that is done, the bulk of the maintenance for artificial turf is done. With regular grass, once it is planted or sodded, your work is only beginning.
To care for artificial turf, you’ll need to keep it clean by clearing debris, raking leaves, and washing spills or sticky spots. The turf drains naturally, so there’s no need to worry about liquids.
In addition, occasional brushing helps keep artificial turf looking like new. If you don’t get a lot of rain, you’ll also need to rinse away dust with a hose.
All in all, you might devote an hour a month to artificial grass maintenance. What’s more, it typically lasts up to 25 years.
Cost: Artificial Turf Versus Grass
We won’t mince words: artificial grass is not inexpensive at first. The important thing to keep in mind is the ongoing savings that will more than make it worth it over time.
If you hire someone to come and take care of your lawn, you can expect to pay well over $1,000 a year. Over 25 years…well, you do the math.
You will save some money by doing it yourself, but you still need to spend hundreds of dollars a year on your mower, trimmer, fertilizer, seed, and other tools in addition to gallons upon gallons of water. Not to mention, what is your time worth to you?
What is more, as availability of clean water continues to grow as a global humanitarian crisis, we simply have no idea what may happen down the line with our ability to water lawns. Water may become much more expensive, or watering lawns could be banned altogether.
Finally, artificial grass can add value to your home. Your home is most likely your biggest investment, so you should do everything you can to grow its worth.
Environmentalism: Artificial Turf Versus Grass
Some people don’t like artificial turf because it isn’t natural, and they believe that because of that, it isn’t good for the environment. According to some, artificial turf is bad for wildlife and soil.
However, what these people aren’t realizing is that in most places, grass isn’t natural, either. If you were to stop treating your lawn to promote grass growth and prevent other plant life, you probably wouldn’t have much grass growing there.
What is more, the environmental toll of grass can be very high, particularly maintaining a green lawn.
On an average, high-temperature, sunny, summer day, homeowners use about 125 gallons of water for every 1,000 square feet of lawn. That means that if you have a 1/4-acre lawn, you will use more than 1,300 gallons of water every day.
In addition, maintaining a green lawn usually requires chemicals. Most lawn fertilizers contain chemicals that harm fish and other wildlife when they run off into bodies of water.
What’s more, the chemicals can pose a threat to your family and pets, especially if you have children or animals who play on (or even eat) the grass. There are organic, less toxic fertilizers available, but they are typically less effective.
Probably the only method of maintaining a yard that is more green than artificial turf is to completely replace grass with rocks or some other kind of turf that does not require water. Some desert communities do this, but the overall aesthetic is not great, and it may even drive down your home value.
Artificial turf is made from synthetic materials, and eventually, it will need to biodegrade, and that poses an environmental challenge. However, the amount of waste you will save in the interim makes up for that many times over, especially since artificial turf only needs to be replaced every 15 to 25 years (depending on wear and tear and weather).
Artificial Turf Is the Obvious Choice
Whether you’re looking to add value to your home, improve curb appeal, save money in the long-term, contribute positively to the environment, or spend more time with your family, artificial turf has you covered.
Artificial turf manufacturers, retailers, and installers are available across the country. Take some time to research the companies in your region, and then take the next step toward installing artificial turf in your yard, just in time for spring and summer.