Artificial grass is synthetic grass that looks like real grass.
And, because its has come a long way, today’s artificial grass looks very realistic.
This has made it more popular with homeowners such that more and more people are installing it in your lawns and backyards.
They’re very low maintenance, requiring no mowing, trimming, weeding, watering or fertilizing. That makes them perfect for busy individuals.
Plus, they always look good and don’t get messy or overgrown if you neglect it.
Below, I explain everything you need to know about artificial grass.
What is Artificial Grass?
Artificial grass is better know as fake grass. Probably one of the earliest commercial uses of it was in the professional football when a few teams started using artificial turf. Majority of NFL players hate it. And, its firmer feel is said to increase their risk of knee injuries.
That said, the same is not true for soccer. While many soccer players don’t also like it, it does not present that same threat of injury.
The main purpose of artificial grass is to replace or act as a substitute to real grass.
It is made from a variety of fabrics and other materials.
Upon installation, you’ll see that it looks like a roll on carpet. The bottom later is black fabric material. And, the upper layer looks like real grass although in cheap products it will look more like plastic.
You’ll also see installers cut the artificial turf with large pairs of scissors to fit around curves and corners. And finally, it will be nailed to the ground.
The biggest use for artificial grass is still on sports fields. But, more and more homes are installing it because of its low care and maintenance requirements.
You don’t need to water it, fertilizer it or mow it. And, to get rid of any dirt that gets stuck in on or it, just use a special brush/rake and you’re done.
What is Artificial Grass Made of?
As mentioned, artificial grass is made from fabrics. This often means a combination of different kinds of material to produce the look, feel and texture.
In most cases, it combines nylon, polypropylene and polyethylene.
Since its initial uses were for sports, the material needed to be very strong and resilient. It also needed to last long without warping or getting distorted. Loss of color is likewise a no-no.
Finally, it is more gentle to the skin. This is why young athletes especially those who play soccer love it since sliding does not cause the same abrasions to their legs as real grass does.
Since the grass sits under the sun, it is also resistant to the sun’s ultra-violet rays. Abrasions from cleats and sliding also don’t damage or destroy it.
The blades of grass are usually made from polyethylene which gives you the shape and flexibility. This is a kind of plastic that’s used for bags and water bottles.
But, as artificial grass is now in its 3rd generation with 50 years of research and development under its belt, the quality and craftsmanship makes it look very real. In comparison initial surfaces look like plastic.
Something like the plastic like grass in many put-put courses is what the older synthetic grass look like.
Below the polyethylene, there’s the polypropylene that makes up the thatch (base layer of the grass). This adds some cushioning to give you the feel of soil and not a hard surface. it also acts as a support layer for the blades of grass below.
How Do You Install Artificial Grass? Can You Do It Yourself?
To answer the last question first, yes and no.
Some products allow you to install it yourself. Others require professional installation.
Over time though, there will be more and more DIY artificial grass options.
That said, if you decide to do it yourself, you need to know what you’re doing. It requires digging up the soil, leveling and laying the turf. Then cutting the surface to fit the corners and edges nicely.
You also need to nail the grass to the ground so it lays flat.
Another thing to make sure of is that all the edges line up.
If the entire grass layer covers the plot (which works for small areas), lining up the edges is not a problem. But, if you need to use more than one layer side by side, you need to make sure they fit snug so there’s no space in between or overlapping.
Here’s a video that shows how professionals lay down artificial grass on a yard.
Keep in mind that where you install the artificial grass affects the installation process.
How to Install Artificial Grass on Concrete, Cement or Pavement
For example on concrete, there’s a lot less prep work since there’s no need to dig up the soil, check for any pipes or remove weeds.
You do have to clean the concrete by power washing it first. Then, install an extra foam surface since concrete is much harder than soil.
After that, all you need it do is measure the amount needed and roll out the artificial grass.
If you need more than one roll to cover the entire surface, you’ll need to seam the turf pieces together.
Then glue it to the perimeter.
Finally, groom the grass.
- Artificial Grass vs. Real Grass for Your Lawn & Backyard: Which is Better?
- Decomposed Granite: What it is, How to Use It for Landscaping
- Gardening with Children and Kids – The Ultimate Guide
- How to Test Soil in the Home Garden
- How to Make a Lasagna Garden
- How to Make a Closed Terrarium
How to Install Artificial Grass on Soil
Installing artificial grass on soil in your yard or lawn takes a bit more planning and work. Here’s the basic outline of what happens.
This involves measuring the amount of square footage as well as the curves and corners.
Additionally, figuring what’s under the soil is crucial.
You want to know if there are water pipes and electric lines underneath. If you have sprinklers installed, you’ll need to remove them also since you won’t be needing them anymore.
You’ll also need to add drainage pipes below.
When it rains or your dog pees on the artificial grass it will allow the liquid to pass through the material. But, something has to drain it away under that.
On the other hand, you want to stay away from electric lines and keep them protected.
Ready the Surface
Once you have the planning done, it is time to prepare the surface.
This involves cleaning whatever is on the surface. You’ll also need to remove weeds.
Digging up the top few inches will allow the new turf to stay level with everything else.
Area, surface, underground hazards
Lay the Base
Different companies use different materials. But, in most cases it is something concrete-like.
The goal to make the surface even and look nice. It also removes unusual bumps and small hills. This way, everything looks even when the turf if rolled on.
Install the Artificial Grass
Plan how the grass will go in. The borders and edges are the most important since they need to line up.
Cut any excess or to fit curves and corners. Then, seam the pieces of turf together.
Finally, place spikes to keep the entire turf firmly down to the ground.
The last part is grooming the grass.
Brushing the grass will make it face upwards so they don’t look flat. In many cases, infill will be used to make the grass have realistic looking spacing and stature.
Watering the lawn will set the infill.
You’ll want to check the look of the grass the next day to see if it looks natural. If not, add more infill and rake it.
How Much Does Artificial Grass Cost?
The biggest drawback to artificial grass is the installation. This includes both the material and installing it on the surface.
Together, it can cost anywhere from $9 to $25 per square foot. You can also go lower to $5 or so, although you really need to do your research the lower you go since as quality goes down, the durability and longevity follows.
This cuts down the expected to 25 year lifespan to between 8 to 15 years depending on the quality.
As such, be ready to spend anywhere from $9,000 to $25,000, per square foot of artificial grass.
In all likelihood, you’ll be somewhere in the middle of that between the $12.50 to $15.00 per square foot cost.
However, in the long run, artificial grass is cheaper than real grass since you only spend $350 or so the next 25 years.
In contrast, real grass is very inexpensive to install. Seeding is much cheaper than sowing. But, the long term costs get quite costly.
The biggest ones being water, fertilizer and mowing (if you don’t mow it yourself).
Thus, the main difference between artificial grass and real grass in terms of cost is the former has a high initial cost and almost no recurring cost. Real grass is the opposite. It is much, much cheaper initially. But, the costs add up over time.
Where Can You Install Artificial Grass?
The best spots to install artificial grass is any area where grass has a hard time growing or looking good.
This includes poor soil and shaded areas.
Of course, it also works well for lawns and yards if you’re too busy to tend and maintain it regularly.
As far a surfaces go, almost any surface works well. This includes:
- Concrete, cement, pavement
- Decks, balconies, terraces
The harder parts are the areas with slopes, uneven sections and those with troughs or bumps. Since the artificial grass layer looks like a carpet that’s laid on top, it is harder to cover these areas perfectly.
That said, very good installers and manufacturers can handle some of these issues.
How Long Will Artificial Grass Last?
This is where quality comes in.
The cost of artificial grass will vary quite a bit. If you look at the pros and cons section, you’ll see that good, high quality synthetic grass is expensive.
Of course, there are cheaper options as well as mid-level options.
The cheapest will last a few years before they start showing inconsistencies. The problem here is that inconsistencies make it very easy to tell that that grass is fake because something doe not look right.
Middle level quality will last around 8 to 15 years, with the latter for the upper end of that range.
The good quality artificial grass are meant to last around 20 to 25 years.
Proper care and maintenance, like hosing it off when there’s dirt and cleaning any dog urine as well as brushing off leaves and debris will help the grass look good longer.
The biggest problem here is what to do after 25 years.
From what I know, artificial grass is no recyclable. Although manufacturers will argue it is. I suggest making sure to ask what to do with the grass after.
How Do You Take Care of Artificial Grass?
The biggest advantage of artificial grass is its very low maintenance.
It is important to understand that it is not ZERO maintenance because you do need to hose off the grass to remove any small dirt and debris that can collect over time.
This also gets rids of any leaves or branches that falls onto the grass from trees.
For small particles that get stuck, there is a special brush that looks like a rake that easily gets the job done.
Together, the effort needed to maintain artificial grass is very little. Just a few minutes every few weeks or even once a month depending on how much dirt accumulates.
Thus, the 25 year cost of maintenance comes out to around $350 or so total (around $14 a year or a little over $1 a month).
There’s no need to mow, water, fertilizer, remove weeds or reseed the grass.
Do note that if you have a dog or cat that likes to poop or urinate on your lawn or yard, the cost goes up. That’s because the material like many other things will eventually absorb the odors. So, you need to use products to clean it.
How to Look After Artificial Grass in Winter?
Winter care of artificial grass is very important. That’s because the type of fabric you get will affect how it behaves in different weather.
The one you want to watch out for is latex which becomes less flexible in the cold. In the summer it becomes flexibility making a non-issue.
As such, in the cold, ridges and ripples can happen with latex. Here, pouring hot water to warm the surface up will let them drop back down. Avoid using boiling water.
This is not a problem with polyurethane which is a better option.
Pros and Cost of Artificial Grass
Here’s a quick rundown on the pros and cons of artificial grass.
Pros of Artificial Grass
- Good quality artificial grass looks very real
- Lots of designs, blade types, colors, textures and other factors.
- Low maintenance (no mowing, no watering and no fertilizer)
- Lowers your water bill. This can come out to anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000 over a 25 year period or more.
- Looks great all year round. Never grows long and does not turn brown with lack of water.
- No mud or dirt that sticks to your shoes when you get into he house
- No weeds, brown spots or bald areas.
- You don’t need to reseed, sow or fix.
Cons of Artificial Grass
- Expensive – it can cost anywhere from $9,000 to $25,000 for every 1,000 square feet initially (material and installation). Although it has low running costs. For the next 25 years after that the cost to maintain is about $340 total. Yup, that’s not a typo.
- Can’t recycle the entire thing after 25 years.
- It gets hot during the peak of summer
- Will need to water any dirt or debris that gets stuck or brush/rake them off. Although you only need to do this on occasion.
- More costly if you have pets because the material absorbs odors. You’ll need to use a product to clean that which costs about $100 per gallon.
- Some home associations or neighborhoods don’t allow artificial grass. So, you always want to check first.
One upon a time, artificial grass was not a viable option for home lawns and yards. It looked too fake.
But that’s not true anymore.
In fact, not only does artificial grass look realistic it also gives you a lot of options ranging from the type of grass, the colors, texture and so on.
Additionally, it is very low maintenance yet, will always look good even if you don’t trim, water or fertilize the grass.