Turf Wars: Can Fake Grass Ever Match the Real Thing?

The last few years have seen a huge surge in the popularity of artificial grass.

As drastic improvements in the manufacturing process have transformed it from an aesthetically unappealing material to something that looks almost eerily like the real thing, fake grass has undergone a reputational revolution. The growth in sales has been further fuelled by its durability and low maintenance, something that appeals to many hectic modern urban lifestyles.

Caring for a real lawn is a luxury that many of us simply don’t have time for nowadays. But can artificial grass ever really match the real thing?

The Genuine Article

There’s nothing like the smell of freshly cut grass to lift the spirits, and a well-maintained real lawn can look spectacular. They feel lovely underfoot and are soft for children to play and sit on. Grass absorbs carbon dioxide so has a lovely cooling effect in summer and is great for the environment too. In addition, grass provides a habitat for worms and other soil insects that do invaluable work maintaining your garden’s carefully balanced eco-system.

However, real grass needs frequent mowing in order to keep it looking good. Regular treatments with weed killer and the application of grass seed may also be necessary. Then there’s the watering. With hosepipe bans and periods of drought becoming more common, the cost of watering your lawn over the year may well surprise you. Unusually hot and dry periods of weather have been a boom for sales of artificial grass in California for years but now it looks as if this drought prone weather is helping push sales over here.

Extreme weather conditions can also have a huge impact on the condition of your lawn, leaving it waterlogged after rain or covered in scorched dry patches during a dry summer. If you have young children who love to play ball games or dogs who are liable to tear up your turf, your real lawn may not look as good as it could

Even Better Than the Real Thing?

Whilst it would nice to think that our lawns are green and lush all summer, the truth is that often they are a hotchpotch of patchy grass and moss. And that’s without all the dandelions, clover, buttercups and daisies, which may look very pretty in a wild-flower meadow but are less welcome when you are trying to create emerald perfection. Artificial grass, however, consistently looks great all year round. There are no patches of bare mud where the grass has worn away, and it requires very little in the way of maintenance. It can be a great solution if you want to create some green space in an area where real grass will not grow, such as a patio or garden with poor soil quality, as it can be laid over a variety of surfaces.

Modern artificial grass is carefully designed to simulate the real thing, even down to the manufacturing of slight imperfections in the form of different shades of green and even slightly yellowish blades and unevenness in terms of curly and straight yarns. Opting for an artificial grass that is made up of strands of differing length and subtle variations in colour will give a more realistic effect. According to a recent Which? report, “The best fake grasses are hard to tell from real grass from a distance. The most expensive we tested was also the most realistic and could easily be mistaken for the real thing.” Some types of artificial grass also have a layer of sand brushed into the pile, which makes the strands stand upright and look more natural. A porous layer is placed underneath to allow water to drain away, just like true grass.

One of the main attractions of artificial grass for many people is the low maintenance required to maintain it. The most labour intensive period for your synthetic lawn will be in autumn, when it may need regular sweeping to remove leaves and any build up of moss. With no need to water, mow, replant or fertilise in any way, fake grass can also end up saving you a considerable amount of money over its lifetime (although the initial outlay is undoubtedly high)

Before fake grass

After- The finished Effect

Artificial grass may not be the perfect solution for everyone of course. Without the natural cooling properties of real grass, it can become warm to sit on in summer. The shelf life of modern artificial grass usually ranges from between 8 and 10 years, depending on its initial quality and its levels of UV resistance, but most products will easily last double that if looked after properly. Without the lure of worms in the soil, you may find your garden less attractive to birds, although this can easily be offset by adding extra bird feeders and planters around your outside space. Artificial grass can also be tricky to secure on steeply inclined slopes, with the sand naturally gravitating to the base of the slope.

Conclusion

There are clear benefits of both artificial grass and real lawns, and which you choose will ultimately depend on your personal preference and specific requirements. If you enjoy gardening and have the time to spend on it, then a real lawn will probably suit you best. However, if you want to enjoy all year round unchanging greenery, without having to spend too much time and effort on maintenance, as well as provide a comfortable surface for the children to play on, artificial grass is certainly be an effective solution.

 

avatar Name: Anthony Gallagher
About: Anthony Gallagher is the Managing Director of Easigrass Group, a network of award-winning artificial grass franchisees and international licensed partners. Under his stewardship, Easigrass became the first artificial grass company in the world to exhibit at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2010, with designer Tony Smith (and then going on to win a Gold Medal in 2012). You can follow Easigrass on Twitter, YouTube channel.
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