The Advantages and Disadvantages of Artificial Turf

Two artificial turf contractors installing a residential backyard lawn

Sporting arenas and athletic venues have used artificial turf for many years. However, expanding options and decreasing cost has opened an entirely new market for artificial turf. No longer is artificial turf limited to Monday Night Football. Today, many homeowners are turning to artificial turf because it is virtually maintenance free and doesn’t require watering or time consuming and expensive care – a real plus is drought prone areas such as California, right?

The word “artificial” tends to scare people away and it is referred to by many household names such as synthetic grass, fake grass, and astro turf. Artificial turf is more interesting today however because of the number of different types of available. Many look incredibly real. Gone are the days of the thin, green carpet reminiscent of the local putt putt.

Types of Artificial Turf

Nylon – nylon is a strong plastic material that withstands the elements better than other artificial turf options. If you’re looking for turf that will stand up to the rigors of children and pets, nylon is the way to go.

Polypropylene – polypropylene tends to be the cheapest option when it comes to artificial turf, however, it isn’t as durable as other nylon options. However, if you have a small space that won’t be heavily trafficked, polypropylene would be an excellent option to consider.

Polyethylene – another cost-effective option, polyethylene artificial turf has the most natural texture and feel. While today’s artificial turf looks more realistic, if aesthetics is the most important factor in your decision, polyethylene would be best.

In addition to the material used, the range of available colors and finishes have also increased over the years. Many people think of artificial turf as having that flat green color that tries to be real, but somehow misses just enough to scream “fake!” However, that’s not the case today. There are a range of tones that are blended to give artificial turf a more realistic look. Advances in manufacturing have made it possible to include individual strands of grass that are held in a more natural position and there are also many options when it comes to length and thickness as well.

Now let’s look at the many advantages and few disadvantages of artificial turf.

The Advantages of Artificial Turf Lawns

Water Conservation – particularly in places prone to drought, such as California, the benefit of water conversation artificial turf provides is perhaps one of its greatest advantages. Since artificial turf is…well, just that – artificial, it doesn’t require any water to grow! In contrast, traditional lawns require just over ½ a gallon per square foot to maintain the recommended 1–1.5 inches of water needed to keep a lawn healthy. That’s a lot of water and places stricken with long-term drought and water restrictions, cannot sustain the needed water to keep a lawn looking its best. This is the number one reason we are seeing more and more local homeowners and businesses turn to artificial turf. Furthermore, turf is a great way to reduce your monthly water bills.  

Low Maintenance – keeping a natural lawn looking its best is a time consuming and often dreaded chore. A natural lawn needs to be mowed, watered, fertilized, and seeded year-round to ensure it stays healthy and pristine. Artificial turf needs very little care to look great year-round. And, you won’t have to spend any money on lawn equipment or irrigation system!

Environmentally Friendly – natural lawns are prone to weeds, bugs, fungi, and other unwanted inhabitants. This results in the need for pesticide and herbicide treatments that are a threat to both humans and wildlife. While artificial turf is a synthetic material and does require manufacturing, it has a neutral pH balance and is 100% biodegradable, making it environmentally friendly throughout its life cycle.      

Weatherproof – artificial grass is UV protected and won’t fade in the sun. Unlike a natural lawn, it won’t burn or brown in excessive sunlight, drought or heat. Conversely, artificial turf doesn’t need sunlight to grow, so it’s also an excellent option for shadier yards. Synthetic grass works anywhere and in any climate!

Child Friendly – turf is a great option for backyards and play areas. It provides greater cushioning, is chemical free, and stays cooler than other options such as rubber surfaces.

Pet Friendly – natural lawns are affected by ammonia, found in urine, which can cause browning and bare spots. With proper cleaning (a bit of water and mild detergent) artificial turf stands up to anything Fido throws (or lays) on it.  

No More Mud or Grass Stains – where there is natural lawn, there is mud. Proper installation of turf requires the use of a barrier, which prevents any soil from reaching the top layer. Since the grass material is synthetic, it won’t leave those hard to remove green stains we’ve all dealt with. With fake grass, muddy floors and grass stains will be a thing of the past.

Hypoallergenic – did you know that nearly 20% of the population is allergic to grass? Synthetic turf is perfect for those who suffer from hay fever and seasonal allergies.

Great for Landlords or Vacation Homes – due to its low maintenance needs, artificial lawns are a great option for rental properties or vacation homes. There is no need to spend money on a professional lawn service or worry about whether the lawn is being cared for properly.  

Many Options to Fit Your Style – there is a huge range of turf types available these days. From colors, to density, to thickness, to shape, there is something for every look.

The Disadvantages of Artificial Turf

Compared to the advantages of artificial turf, there are very few disadvantages. However, it’s prudent to consider both the advantages and disadvantages of anything before making a decision.

Installation Cost – depending on the grade and style chosen, artificial turf can be expensive to install. However, what you save in time and maintenance cost down the road greatly offsets any initial cost.

Installation Process – to truly reap the benefits artificial turf has to offer, it is important that it is properly installed. This process can take time and, particularly if you’ve decided to DIY it, will be daunting. It is important to create a flat surface and proper drainage to ensure your artificial turf performs correctly. Any stagnant water can cause damage. Proper installation requires knowledge, tools, and experience and its often best to leave to professional fake lawn installers.

It’s Cheating – this isn’t really a disadvantage, just the personal perception of one. To an avid gardener, perhaps it is cheating. But unless you love getting out the lawnmower and taking the time needed to properly care for your lawn, does it really matter?

Loss of wildlife habitat – many worry that artificial turf can be detrimental to wildlife by removing natural habitat and yes, the installation of artificial turf is prohibitive when it comes to wildlife habitat. However, the fact that artificial turf requires no pesticides or herbicides, outweighs the reduction in natural habitat and therefore can actually benefit the surrounding wildlife. Additionally, the planting of soil-based shrubs, trees, and flowers as part of a larger landscaping plan will restore the natural habitat and solve the problem.

It’s clear to see that the advantages and benefits of artificial turf greatly outweigh the cons, but it really comes down to personal preference. If you have any questions about artificial turf—it’s pros or cons, installation process or need any expert advice, don’t hesitate to contact us today. With Cupertino Artificial Grass you can rest assured you will receive professional and exceptional care.

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