Which do you prefer: artificial grass or natural grass?

In Australia, it’s common to have grown up with a significant grassed front and back yard. Siblings took turns mowing as they grew up and it was the place where people congregate especially in summer.

It’s changing now as gardens are shrinking but it’s often an emotional attachment that we have to organic grass that gives us fond memories that remind us of family time spent playing or relaxing together on spongy, green grass.

Is artificial grass better than real grass?

Artificial grass VS Real grass - which is better

The answer to this is it depends on the space, your needs and your personal preference.

For instance, you may want to liven up an area like a small courtyard where organic grass won’t grow. Or the lack of rain and water restrictions in your area doesn’t allow you to grow grass so you install artificial grass because you are sick of having a dust bowl for a front lawn.

It comes down to personal preference and budget because both options have pros and cons to consider.

Does artificial grass feel real?

How artificial grass feels depends on the quality of the product that is installed. The higher the quality the closer it is to replicate the texture of walking on grass.

There are two factors that manufacturers take into account when creating artificial grass:

  • Blade technology: the shape of the artificial blade of grass establishes how the lawn well it will spring back into shape, how it reflects light and also how it will feel when you walk on it in bare feet.
  • Infill: determines how the artificial grass feels to walk on. The high quality products will feel soft and springy like organic grass.

Two other differences between artificial and organic grass that you will need to take into account are:

  • Organic grass is naturally uneven and changes with clumps and divots whereas installed artificial grass will always be even and unchanging.
  • Artificial grass will often feel hotter than organic grass especially in areas of direct sunlight. The heat can be reduced by spraying water on it.

And if you are someone that loves the smell of freshly cut grass, you can even purchase a lawn spray that will add that to your artificial grass.

Pros and cons of artificial grass

Roll of artificial grass on floor - Pros and cons of artificial grass

Pros

1. Realistic

Artificial grass, like their counterparts artificial plants, has come a long way due to research and updates in materials. The options that are now available on the market look real. Sometimes more real than browning lawns in areas that are experiencing water shortages. They include a range of colours, textures and lengths all to help mimic real grass.

To be able to tell the difference between artificial grass and well-tended lawn you have to examine it very closely to be sure.

2. Maintenance

One of the big benefits of artificial grass is there is very little maintenance. You can say goodbye to regular mowing and trimming and use the time you save to kick back and relax. You may want to hose dust and pollens off it about once a month, and rake up leaves and other debris from any surrounding trees.

If you have pets you will need to regularly use an odour control product – how often you need to do this depends on how many pets, what size etc.

Occasional brushing may also be needed, in highly trafficked areas, to fluff up any flat spots.

3. Looks great

Lawns in Australia have been suffering from a severe lack of water. Many are brown and dying, or even worse dust bowls. Artificial grass looks great regardless of the season and always enhances the look of your home.

4. Save water

You will save on water, especially if you are someone that loves to maintain the greenness of your lawn all year round. This is already becoming difficult with water restrictions unless you channel grey water or collect rainwater for use in your garden.

5. Environmental

Lawn mowers and whipper snippers are often (not always) gas powered and contribute to negative emissions so removing them from your maintenance roster is a plus for the environment.

Installing artificial grasses also means that you have no need for fungicides, fertilisers or pesticides to maintain the organic equivalent which is another plus for the environment.

Cons

1. Environmental

While there are some environmental benefits from artificial grass, there are also a few cons as well.

Because it is a petroleum-based product, the manufacturing process does create waste and pollution. Some are partially made from recycled materials and if sustainability and your carbon footprint are important it is worth shopping around for this option.

However, at the end of the day artificial grass is not biodegradable and even though it lasts for around 15-25 years eventually it will be disposed of as landfill. You could consider the use of a 100% recyclable green wall for your home instead.

2. Absorbs heat

Artificial turf absorbs heat from direct sunlight and will heat up the surrounding area. It will also be hot to walk on or touch. There are some grass ranges which can minimise this.

3. Animal waste

Your dog, or cats, hard waste will not break down or be absorbed. However, liquids can filter through as artificial grass is permeable.

Pros and cons of real grass

Pros and cons of real natural grass - child laying on grass

Pros

1. Naturally ‘green’

Organic grass helps to purify the air and improve its quality. Grass also produces oxygen, aerates and improves soil, helps reduce runoff from rain and cools the immediate area.

2. Feels good

Have you ever taken your shoes off and walked across grass in bare feet? It feels great. We love to walk on, picnic on and play on natural grass and some would argue that artificial grass, no matter how good, is not the same.

3. DIY lawn

Artificial grass has to be installed by professionals and will always cost more up front. Seeding or sodding can be successfully installed by you which is satisfying and often cheaper.

Cons

1. High maintenance

Grass lawns, when they are in the peak of health, need to be mowed and edged about twice a month. The rate of growth depends on the climate, season and amount of water available. You may also want to use fertilisers, pesticides and weed killers as well.

**Natural options are better for the health of your family and the environment.

2. Aesthetics vary

You have limited control over how your grass looks simply because there are so many factors outside of your control. It depends on how many free hours you have to spend on maintenance, availability of water, pest infestations, weather and more.

How much does artificial grass cost?

You will need to talk the individual providers to get a realistic cost to install artificial grass. What will be factored into the per square metre cost is:

  • The materials needed
  • Operation fee
  • Labour cost
  • Overheads

How to install real grass

One of the important considerations for a healthy lawn is to ensure that you are growing a variety of grass that is suitable for your local environment. The next decision is how you would like to install it.

There are two options either by sodding or seeding. Sodding is pre-grown grass that is provided in rolls and once they are installed, you have an instant lawn. Its immediate and because of this will cost you more than seeding.

Seeding is growing the grass from seeds that you sow in the soil. They need to be watered regularly depending on the climate, and it may be worth installing a sprinkler system (grey water is a great option if its routed to your outdoor taps) that will help you reduce the amount of time spent watering. Seeded lawn needs thorough watering for the first eight weeks for optimal growth.

Artificial grass vs green walls

If you want to green an out of the way area and are not sold on the idea of artificial grass, consider installing an artificial green wall instead.

A green wall from Designer Plants:
· Improves privacy
· Hides unsightly infrastructure
· Adds greenery in an area where plants cannot grow
· Can be portable
· Doesn’t absorb water
· Have inbuilt air holes to allow breezes to pass through them
· Has UV resistance that ensures a longer lasting product
· Look great anywhere in the home

Artificial grass:
· Absorbs water that can create puddles
· Block wind
· Only some are UV resistant
· Don’t have the variety of plant types of green walls

Up next: 5 hacks for a low maintenance garden all year round

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