Since the invention of artificial grass in 1966, homeowners and lawn care professionals have been hotly debating a difficult topic: natural grass or artificial grass? With both options offering a number of compelling advantages over the other, it would seem there’s no clear answer as to which is unilaterally better.
This being the case, we’ve decided to put on our thinking caps, pool our collective three brain cells and really dig into this puzzling dilemma. We’re going to be discussing the issues of price, lawn maintenance and a number of other factors that must be considered to reach a final verdict on this conundrum. There’s a lot to unpack here!
When attempting to ascertain the pros and cons of those products, we found that there seem to be two general points of view: a pragmatic one that assesses the product in a financial light and another more concerned with the enjoyment of benefits provided by the product. In terms of the first point of view, we’re already seeing an apparent front runner: artificial grass.
Artificial Grass Cost
In terms of cost, artificial grass is a lot cheaper. While the initial cost of the materials and installation for an artificial lawn may be somewhat higher than the cost of an equivalent living lawn, the simple fact is that real grass is way more expensive in the long run. Once you factor in the costs of fertilizer, lawn care tools such as a lawn mower and trimmer, you can easily expect to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars each month if you plan on installing real grass.
Once you install a living lawn, the initial cost incentive it provides will almost immediately be buried under persistent and pricey lawn maintenance costs. Want your lawn to be green year round? Then you’re going to have to install a sprinkler system and special fertilizer. Afraid insect pests will destroy the grass? Get your wallet out, because you need some not so friendly pesticides!
Installation costs vs. maintenance costs
The cost of installation for artificial grass on the other hand, will quickly be outweighed by how low maintenance it is. Additionally, if you do the installation yourself (a difficult but not insurmountable task) you can lower the cost of installation to almost nothing. With some rented tools and an extra pair of hands and eyes to level everything nicely, DIY installation is very doable. Once you’re done with the installation, the amount of money you’ll spend on your lawn drops to virtually $0!
Meanwhile, you may be wondering “how long does artificial grass last?” The answer is typically between 10 to 15 years, varying depending on the type of grass you install and how well you install it. Unless you spend a simply exorbitant amount on your artificial lawn, the chances that your investment will not be made back by the time you need a new lawn are slim to none.
With these factors in mind, it’s pretty clear that artificial grass wins the competition in terms of cost at the very least. There are other factors to be taken into consideration, however; so let’s now look at some of the advantages of real grass.
Lawn Maintenance: not as bad as it seems
Fake grass requires almost no lawn maintenance compared to the massive amount of maintenance that real grass requires. But hold your horses; this one is not as simple as it may initially seem. Real grass is naturally absorbent, so, when it rains, all you have to do is wait for the water to drain off naturally; in a short while there might be some sparse puddles, but you’ll be able to walk across your lawn without getting your feet wet.
But what happens when the rain falls on fake grass? While it’s true that modern artificial grass fares much better in the rain than it used to thanks to strategically placed perforation, it still fails to hold a candle to real grass in terms of drainage. When it rains, you’re likely to end up spending no small amount of time with a squeegee in a futile attempt to push water to the margins of your lawn so no one slips and falls or gets their feet soaked.
Pets and artificial lawns: a bad combination
Lawn maintenance also comes into play regarding… natural occurrences. Whether you have pets or not, chances are animals are at some point going to do their business on your lawn. While there are ways to prevent this, you’re going to need to consider this as a very plausible possibility. If you don’t prepare for it, you’ll be caught unprepared!
Dogs and cats are the most common suspects when it comes to leaving their messes on the lawn. While different types of lawn may be more or less adversely affected by this waste, it’s never a good idea to have it lying around. Dog and cat piles can carry a plethora of harmful bacteria, posing a serious health risk.
This being the case, neither the owners of artificial grass or real grass should let their dog’s waste lying around. However, the amount of burden left on your shoulders is not equally divided in our lawn debate and differs substantially depending on what type of lawn you choose. Dog urine on artificial grass is just gross. The smell will remain even when the water is drained, and the surface is liable to get sticky too. You’ll have to use soap and water to remove it.
When it comes to dog excrement, natural grass also comes out on top, by a thin margin. Like we said, you’ll still need to manually clean your dog’s messes! However, at least the visual aspect can be taken care of automatically.
If you decide to go with natural grass, rain is often more than enough to wash away the evidence and effectively do the job of cleaning up for you. When it comes to artificial grass, on the other hand, rain will only make things worse. If there is a dog pile on your artificial lawn when it rains, the waste (and its bacteria) will turn into a huge, smelly and very unappealing mess that will have to be cleaned by hand.
Thus, our final verdict is this: if you have a dog or there are dogs in your neighborhood, get a real lawn. If you don’t, then this is basically a non-factor and doesn’t really need to be considered when choosing what type of lawn to install.
You might be thinking “how in the world can artificial grass provide bigger ecological benefits than natural grass?! It’s in the name! natural vs. artificial!”. But bear with us.
Although, yes, artificial grass is made of plastic, natural grass requires lawn mower machines which consume petroleum based fuels, which produce carbon emissions. What’s more, natural lawns must be watered heavily under normal circumstances, consuming large amounts of a valuable resource on what is essentially a useless aesthetic addition to your property. What’s more, real grass must be sprayed with pesticide, potentially harming the local ecosystem.
Instead of a dirt base, fake grass has infill, which is not an inviting place for pests to live. Your dog benefits from this, as it becomes harder for it to get fleas and ticks. And, in the end, we’re back to the money aspect of it, as you’ll have to spend large sums of money if your beloved pet contracts a disease or parasites.
While a natural lawn does have ecological upsides such as its air-scrubbing functionality, a well kept natural lawn is undoubtedly more taxing on the environment than an artificial lawn. The ideal solution would be to eschew the keeping of lawns altogether, but this is hardly an option. This being the case, you can always find ways to reduce carbon emissions when caring for a living lawn, such as an electric lawn mower or organic pest control solutions.
Because of the attractive aesthetic aspect brought by real grass, properties with healthy lawns have shown to have their overall home value increased by 20%! Suddenly that lawn maintenance doesn’t look so much like a waste of time but rather a great investment.
Obviously, we didn’t have a clear winner. It will really depend on your house and your lifestyle, but, hopefully, we have given enough brain fertilizer to nurture your lawn decision! Devote some time to carefully considering the issue, and we’re sure you’ll arrive at the conclusion that works best for you and your household. We wish you the best of luck!