Virtually everyone wants to have a lawn at their home. Whether it’s a postage-stamp plot or a vast expanse, grass is pretty. And it’s practical. Establishing and maintaining a lovely lawn is also a lot of work. In recent years many home owners – especially in California – have switched to artificial grass. Should you follow their lead?
Installing artificial grass is a major investment. It is also a long-term home asset that can repay you in multiple ways for years to come.
To help you decide if artificial grass is right for you and your family, we’ve created this comprehensive guide to all things fake grass. As you read, you’ll learn how artificial grass is made and how you can use it around your home. You’ll find answers to common questions and answers to questions you didn’t even know you should ask.
Armed with the facts (and probably some great ideas for your home and yard), you’ll be able to make a smart, family-friendly decision about whether artificial grass is the best choice for you.
Pros and Cons of Natural vs. Artificial Grass
Healthy, well-tended natural grass and high-quality artificial grass look very much the same. Either one might be a viable option for your yard. However, they have distinct differences that affect their cost and performance over time:
Natural grass is less expensive to install, but it is a source of ongoing expense. You have to buy and maintain a mower and other equipment. You’ll need to repeatedly replenish supplies such as fertilizers, pesticides, weed killer, and seed for fill-in repairs. And of course you’ll have to water.
The initial cost of artificial grass is much higher. But you’ll have no expenses for ongoing maintenance and almost no cost for water. Artificial grass can be financed over several years, too.
There are also intangible costs to consider such as impact on your home’s value.
In addition to the cost of equipment and supplies, it takes time to maintain a natural grass lawn. It’s a weekly commitment from spring through early fall, sometimes almost year-round if our winter is warm. Artificial grass requires virtually no regular maintenance. A quick rinse removes dust or debris, and brushing it now and then with a rake or broom keeps the blades upright even in high-traffic areas.
Sustainability is important to most Californians. The living plants in a natural lawn contribute oxygen to our air and help cool the atmosphere. But the chemicals required to keep the plants healthy and vigorous leach into the soil, groundwater, and the Bay. They can be toxic to wildlife as well as kids and pets. Live grass is thirsty, too – even a small lawn can consume thousands of gallons of water each year.
Artificial grass doesn’t require chemicals. And the man-made products that go into manufacture of fake grass are non-toxic and non-allergenic.
Grass is gorgeous, but only when it looks its best. Weather fluctuations and normal wear-and-tear can damage or kill live grass, leaving unsightly yellow or bare spots and holes. Artificial grass consistently retains its initial color and texture for many years. Also, fake grass can “grow” anywhere in your yard, whereas natural grass requires sunlight to thrive.
What Kind of Maintenance Does Artificial Grass Need?
We like to say that artificial grass requires no maintenance. However, that’s not quite accurate. Certainly it requires very little. Fake grass doesn’t grow, so you can say goodbye to mowing and all the other tasks associated with traditional lawn care. On the other hand, life in the outdoors means dirt, debris, and other messy things happen. Fortunately, it’s easy to keep your faux lawn looking clean and tidy.
To remove dirt and debris such as leaves and twigs, you can simply pick things up by hand, or you can rake, sweep, or rinse the grass. Artificial grass is strong, so it’s tool-friendly. You can use a lawn rake, lawn brush, or leaf blower to clear away organic debris, and a stiff-natural-bristle brush is ideal for re-fluffing the blades. Or you can invest in a power broom and let the machine do the work for you.
Other problems are rare for artificial grass, but they are still easy to deal with. For example, sticky spills that aren’t cleaned away quickly can attract insects, and lingering moisture can eventually cause mildew or mold. Applying a common household cleaner or vinegar and then rinsing with water is all it takes. You can also use an organic turf spray. Even spilled paint is no problem, because it can be wiped away with paint thinner. Fake grass does not stain.
How Much Does Artificial Grass Cost?
Installing artificial turf is a major investment in your home. It’s an upgrade that enhances curb appeal, daily livability, and ultimately your property’s monetary value. Just like repainting, remodeling, or other large projects, adding artificial grass can be costly. Superior quality products cost the most, but when it comes to artificial grass, the old adage “you get what you pay for” is very true.
Despite the initial cost, home owners have found that faux grass is quite affordable. The return on investment is excellent, because artificial turf lasts many years and the ongoing savings can be dramatic. For instance, you won’t have to spend money on lawn care tools and supplies. Or excessive water usage.
You’ll also save countless hours of personal time formerly devoted to lawn maintenance. Home owners typically devote 10 hours a week to these task. By switching to artificial turf, you can re-invest that time in your family and yourself. Or some other type of home improvement. Or a vacation.
Something else golf-loving home owners have discovered is the affordability of adding a fake grass putting green along with a new lawn. Specialized turf products look and play like the real thing. Of course, total cost depends on the features you choose and the overall size of your project. Again, though, the money you can save on trips to the driving range can help pay for your at-home installation.
How Does Artificial Grass Impact the Environment?
As many of us look for ways to live greener lives, it’s encouraging to know that artificial grass is green in more ways than one. We love that emerald color, of course. That’s an environmental impact that beautifully boosts our visual surroundings. And let’s face it – one of the primary reasons you want a lawn is because it adds so much foundational beauty to your yard.
However, artificial grass positively impacts our environment in other, even more important, ways.
Mother Nature says “yes!” to fake grass:
- Replacing natural grass with faux virtually eliminates lawn-related noxious emissions. A push style gas mower pollutes as much as 11 cars. A riding mower? As much as 34 cars, in just one hour.
- With fake grass, there are no toxic lawn care chemicals to leach into our soil and water.
- And artificial turf is a champion when it comes to conserving our precious water resources. Switching to fake grass can save 56 gallons of water a year for every square foot.
- The US EPA says grass clippings account for a third of landfill material. With artificial turf, there’s nothing to clip.
Your family can breathe easier, too. Artificial grass is non-toxic and non-allergenic, so it’s perfectly safe for everyone to play on – humans and pets alike. For kids, FallSoft technology makes fake grass safer to play on, too. Artificial grass even keeps us cooler, by covering or replacing hard surfaces such as driveways, patios, rooftops, etc. that retain and radiate heat.
Scientists have studied artificial turf for more than four decades. In that entire time, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission reports “there has never been an instance of human illness or environmental damage caused by synthetic turf.”
How Durable Is Artificial Grass?
Natural grass is pretty, but it can be pretty fragile when faced with an active family. Kids and pets can wreak havoc, causing damage that is less than attractive and tough to repair. Artificial grass, on the other hand, is one tough customer. Rampant kids and digging dogs? Bring ’em on!
One reason home owners want a lawn is because their kids love to run around and play. So do pets. Even the most rambunctious family can’t wear holes or flat spots into artificial grass. Even the most industrious dog cannot dig through the turf’s surface. And if pets use the lawn as a potty area, a quick rinse leaves the surface clean and fresh-smelling. There are even specialty turf products designed specifically for dogs and children’s play areas.
There are three factors that determine the durability of artificial turf products -- materials and a manufacturing process that incorporate the latest advances in science and technology, plus professional installation that gives the turf a sound foundation. In other words, quality counts, every step of the way. You can, and should, expect more from superior products.
Beyond its ability to fend off wear and tear, artificial grass won’t fade or stain, either. During the manufacturing process, the synthetic fibers are infused with UV stabilizers that prevent fading. The grass is also non-absorbent, so it won’t stain when it comes in contact with fluids. Spills happen. However, fake grass is easy to clean, and there are simple steps home owners can take to protect their grass from caustic compounds.
As crucial as durability is for home lawns, you want a surface that is fluffy and soft underfoot, too. Artificial grass gives you the best of both worlds.
How Artificial Grass Can Increase Your Home’s Value
A trim and tidy-looking house retains its market value. Updating or enlarging your home can increase its value. Landscaping also plays a significant role in determining what your property is worth. A beautiful setting enables your home to make the best possible first impression. And a well-tended yard tells people your home is likely well-intended inside as well.
Unfortunately, here in the Bay Area, home owners have fought a losing battle with their lawns for years, thanks to drought and other natural causes. Even in the best of times, a natural grass lawn that gets used tends to look, well, used. Not very appealing. In our highly competitive real estate market, faltering curb appeal can turn away potential buyers or encourage them to low-ball their offer.
Artificial grass changes all that. It can dramatically improve the look of your landscape. And it always looks perfect, no matter how much action it sees. It appeals to potential buyers for the same reasons it attracted you:
- No time or money spent on lawn maintenance
- No need for chemicals that can harm the environment, family members, and pets
- No money wasted on watering, and no water wasted, either
- More time to spend on pleasant activities
- More money to spend on other household improvements or repairs, or more play time
- Always a lovely view, out the window or driving by
If you live in a neighborhood that has a homeowners’ association, the quality of your landscaping reflects on the entire area. And you’re required to ensure your property looks up to par at all times. Artificial grass solve that problem, once and for all.
Studies confirm that artificial grass increases property value. GE Finance says investing in quality landscaping increases your home’s resale price as much as double the amount you spent. Horticulture researcher Alex Niemiera at Virginia Tech concluded that landscaping boosts overall value by an impressive 12.7%.
Who doesn’t want that kind of return on investment? Besides, even if you have no plans to sell, switching to artificial grass increases your home’s value right now, for you and your family.
What You Need to Know Before Installing Artificial Grass
Every home improvement project requires some advance research. If you’re considering artificial grass, there are several questions you will want to ask yourself as well as potential contractors:
- Where do you want to put the artificial grass? Unlike live grass, you don’t have to worry about growing or mowing conditions.
- How do you plan to use the grass? Fake grass makes an excellent lawn, but it’s also ideal for backyard putting greens, bocce courts, pool surrounds, patios, balconies, rooftops, walkways . . . your imagination is the limit.
- What look do you want? Artificial grass comes in a variety of colors and blade shapes. It doesn’t even have to be green.
- What maintenance will it require? Artificial grass is a vast improvement over natural grass when it comes to care, but it does need a little TLC now and then.
- What does the warranty cover, and for how long? The best, most reliable products come with the best warranties.
- Is financing available? Installing artificial grass is a major investment. While Heavenly Greens accepts cash and credit cards, we can also connect you with financing programs.
- Who are you buying from? To be happy with your project long-term, it is critical to choose the right product but also the right company. Things like experience and reputation matter because, just like artificial grass itself, not all are created equal. You want to be sure you’re getting your money’s worth, and then some.
- Who is doing the installation? Here too, experience and reputation and crucial. Superior grass poorly installed will be a major waste of money and a major source of frustration. Make a list of specific questions to ask your installer.
- What does the installation actually involve? This is a question home owners often overlook, but you’ll have contractors and a mess in your yard for up to a week. Quality work takes time and meticulous effort. Old grass has to be removed before work can begin, and once the installation is complete, any leftover materials will need to be disposed off properly. There are also things you can do yourself to be prepared when the time comes.
- When can I install artificial grass? This one’s easy – any time you like. Fake grass doesn’t care about the weather, so the sooner you schedule your installation, the sooner you’ll be enjoying your new grass.
How Can Artificial Grass Help my Allergies?
You may be considering artificial grass because you’re sick and tired of mowing and the rest of the weekly lawn care ritual. But if you have allergies, your natural grass lawn could literally be making you sick. Few things feel worse than allergy-inspired sniffling, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and watery eyes. And humans aren’t alone in our suffering. Our pets are often allergic to grass and weed pollen, too.
To make matters worse, natural grass offers multi-season misery. Once the pollen prevalent in spring and summer finally goes away, undrained moisture on your grass invites mold and mildew. And all those chemicals you have to apply to natural grass can exacerbate allergies in some people.
Artificial turf solves the problem. You get grass that not only looks lush and healthy, it is healthy. It doesn’t grow, so there is no pollen and no need for fertilizers and pesticides. Artificial grass drains away moisture quickly and reliably, which greatly reduces opportunities for mold and mildew. There is even artificial grass specifically designed for dogs.
Dogs with grass pollen allergies can develop the same symptoms as you do. While the most common symptom is itchy rash, dogs can also suffer from severe respiratory problems. You can get drugs for them from your vet, but switching to artificial grass is the more humane solution for your entire family. Your guests with allergies will appreciate your healthy choice, too. Finally, they can come over for BBQ or backyard bocce and actually enjoy themselves, symptom-free.
Where can I use Artificial Grass?
The real question is, where can you not use artificial grass? Lawn is just the beginning. Beyond that, the possibilities are endless. Around your yard, you can use artificial grass around the pool or to cover your hot, uninviting patio. You can cut artificial grass to any size or shape, so you can use it to surround walkway pavers, or create “stepping stones.” You can use it on your driveway. Or your front porch.
Synthetic turf is for play areas, too. With a backyard putting green, you can practice whenever you want to shave strokes off your short game. You can teach the kids to chip and putt. All without the time or cost of heading to the golf course. For that matter, you can also build a backyard bocce court, or construct a chess board of fake grass in the middle of your lawn or as a stand-alone game area.
Don’t forget Fido. Dogs love artificial grass in their runs and as bedding in their dog house. (P.S., cats love fake grass, too.) Look up, and you’ll see even more possibilities. Artificial grass is ideal for rooftops and balconies. It’s pretty, soft, cools the surface, and drains away rain instantly. You can also use faux grass indoors – on floors or even walls.
Artificial grass is now the go-to choice for large public event areas. However, homeowners’ associations with common event spaces can also reap the benefits.
But let’s talk about your lawn. With no concerns about mowing or trimming difficulties, you can create exactly the design you want. It’s easy to incorporate focal elements such as statuary or a gazebo during installation. You can even choose the color and texture of your faux turf.
Artificial grass? Bring it on!
Pets and Artificial Grass
Dogs and cats love artificial grass as much as their humans. And no wonder -- it's perfect for play, rest, and taking care of business when nature calls. As a pet parent, you can also appreciate these benefits.
You can build any type of structure to provide shelter from the outdoor elements. But your pet wants to be comfy, too. Artificial grass is the ideal solution. It’s soft and fluffy for him to lie on, and easy care for you. Simply cut a mat to fit the inside of your pet’s house, then you can remove it for cleaning.
For kitties, you can cover an outdoor play structure so it’s not only comfortable for lounging but provides endless scratchable delights. Dogs? They’d rather run around. And some pups love to dig. That kind of wear and tear can wreck a natural grass lawn and create mud and debris that gets tracked into the dog’s house and yours, too. Not so with artificial grass. It feels great underfoot, but it’s dig-proof no matter how determined your dog.
Fake grass is healthier for pets, too. It is non-toxic and non-allergenic. And since there’s no need to apply harmful chemicals to keep it growing, pets can roll and play risk-free.
Inevitably, pets go potty outdoors, too. Once again, artificial grass is the ideal solution. All faux turf drains faster and more reliably than natural grass. The specialized grass designed for dogs is even better, thanks to Heavenly Greens’ MaxxFlow drainage technology. The sand and rubber infill we use further improves drainage. When it rains, the grass won’t be slippery. And when your pooch or kitty relieves himself, a quick pick-up and rinse is all you need.
What are the Different Types of Artificial Grass?
One reason artificial grass is so versatile is that it comes in a multitude of styles. Some fake grass is very soft, whereas other types are stiffer. Blades comes in different lengths, and even the colors vary. Every one looks and feels like the real thing, no matter what its other characteristics. And every one is beautiful, long-lasting, and easy to care for.
How artificial grass looks and performs depends on how it’s made. The materials and construction affect cost as well as performance:
- Some synthetic turf is made from nylon, which is strong and stiff but not very realistic.
- Polypropylene is finer and more realistic than nylon. It’s the cheapest material, but also the least durable. If you want to use artificial grass for fun projects, this is a good choice.
- The most popular artificial grass for home lawns is made from polyethylene. It’s very realistic in look and feel – emerald green and fluffy, yet very durable.
Don’t let cost be your only deciding factor, though, because quality products will make you happier, longer.
Because artificial grass is so versatile, you can use it to augment any type of landscape design, whether your property is a sizeable estate or a tiny oasis. Where natural grass just won’t work, faux grass thrives. It’s true that cost can be a negative if your space is an acre or more, but no matter the size, artificial grass blends beautifully with other landscape elements. Water features, hardscapes, statuary, fire pits, gazebos, and of course tree, shrubs, and flowers that add color and texture.
Heavenly Greens carries more than two dozen types of artificial grass, including multiple types specifically for backyard putting greens. That enables home owners to design any size or shape space, taking full advantage of natural and/or man-made terrain and features.
What is Artificial Grass Made of and How is it Made?
Above, we noted that artificial grass is made of nylon, polypropylene, or polyethylene. However, it’s not that simple. Today’s fake grass is a wonder of science and technology, and the complexities of construction are what give you so many choices.
There are three components to artificial grass – the blades, the backing, and the infill.
The blades come in different shapes, lengths, and colors, to mimic different types of natural grass. The mesh backing is something you never see. It creates the foundation for the blades and is usually made of the same material (often a blend of polypropylene and polyethylene). The backing is also designed to facilitate fast, consistent drainage. Both the blades and backing must meet stringent standards for color, strength, and durability.
As its name implies, infill is there to provide stability. Some infill is made from tiny, smooth “pills” of recycled tire rubber, but infill can also be made of natural sand or silica particles, or a combination of sand and rubber. Whatever the material, it is applied after the artificial grass is installed, then brushed down in between the blades. In place, the particles hold the blades upright and give them resilience during activity. Infill also supports efficient drainage so the artificial grass stays dry.
Just as you would choose a different type of artificial grass for your lawn than for a putting green, the type of infill that works best depends on the purpose of the grass. For home lawns, sand or silica can be a good choice, but you should rely on your contractor’s advice here.
The combination of blades, backing, and infill is what makes artificial grass so realistic. Of course you want grass that will be tough and durable, but if that’s all you wanted, you could paint your yard green. Ugh! We love grass for its texture and beauty. Top-quality faux grass looks and feels like the real thing, not only from a distance but up close. It feels “right” when you walk on it and when you touch it. (It’s the infill that helps give fake grass its slightly springy step.)
With all its advantages, home owners often find artificial grass is far superior to natural grass. It gives you unlimited landscape design options. It requires little maintenance. It’s safe for families, pets, and the environment. It can increase your home’s value now and when you decide to sell. In other words, artificial grass is one of the best all-around investments you can make.
Wouldn’t you rather have artificial grass?
The first step is to call Heavenly Greens to schedule an in-person consultation. That way, we can see the lay of your land and help you explore the most viable, gorgeous options.
Whether you want a new lawn that looks permanently stunning, a putting green or bocce court, or play areas for your kids and the dog, artificial grass is the real deal. We can help you achieve the yard of your dreams.