When deciding on how to landscape your home, choosing a ground cover can be an interesting decision. Having a lawn is attractive but requires maintenance, water, and other things such as fertilizer. An interesting alternative to a real lawn is artificial turf (or artificial lawn or synthetic grass). The types of artificial turf available have grown over the years, and some of this turf is almost indistinguishable from a real lawn when looked at. No longer is artificial turf an ugly relic of the 70s. There are several pros and cons to turf, but let’s take a look at the big picture.
Let’s take a look at the pros of artificial turf first to see what benefits you can gain from installing this in your yard:
- Ease Of Care – You don’t have to water artificial grass, nor do you have to mow it. That’s one less time sink or one less bill that you’ll have to pay. This makes it a great option for vacation properties or rentals.
- Always Looks Great – Artificial turf will always be a vibrant green no matter the season. Whether you forget to water it, there’s a heat wave, or a cold dark winter. Artificial turf is not subjected to the natural browning that a real lawn can sometimes have.
- Environmentally friendly – Synthetic grass helps solve the primary environmental issues that real lawns face – watering, chemicals for fertilizer, gas for mowing. These things can be difficult – especially water in drought prone areas.
- Improved Varieties – the quality of artificial turf has improved markedly over the last decade, to the point where you cannot always tell the difference at first glance. The look and feel is very natural.
There are still some drawbacks to artificial turf that might make some turn away and back to traditional lawns. Let’s take a look:
- They Are Hot – real lawns are naturally cool, and help reduce the heat island effect of urban and suburban spaces. Although turf has improved in this area, some artificial turf can reach up to 200 degrees on hot days (!). This means that it can be very hot to be on the artificial lawn during the day in the summer. Also, if every house in a neighborhood has artificial turf, this can cause a serious heat island effect. This is something that environmentalists are concerned about.
- They get dirty – although artificial lawns do need less maintenance overall, they still must be maintained as bits of dirt, animal droppings, garbage, food, and other stuff can get on the grass and unlike real grass with bugs and natural decay, it will stay there for a long, long time unless someone removes it.
- They aren’t soft – if you have kids running and tumbling around, artificial turf is often not as forgiving as real grass and dirt. There are ways to make these coverings softer, but rug burn and other issues are a real thing, despite grass stains being a thing of the past.
- Not recyclable – although some manufacturers claim their turf is recyclable, the truth is that many turf coverings will just end up in landfills. Turf doesn’t last forever and should be replaced every 10-20 years depending on the type you get.
- Cheaper turfs are ugly – let’s face it – unless you can invest into the high end turfs, they are going to look ugly and fake. That’s just how it is.
Where is turf good for then?
Artificial turf can be great in certain situations. It is great for oddball areas such as small backyard patios that would be impossible to host a lawn. Also, very shady or dark areas can look lush without the sun with some artificial turf. Awkward areas that are hard to mow or water are also great places for synthetic grass. It really just depends on the size and shape of your yard area.