Artificial turf is an attractive, cost-effective and practical alternative to real grass.
How to choose the best turf for your situation, reasons why you may want to choose artificial turf over real grass, and a look at the environmental impacts of artificial turf.
The first thing to think about is what you like about a lawn and what you want to use it for. For example – do you want something nice to look at, do you want something pets and small children can play on, or do you want a hard wearing surface suitable for ball sports and high use?
Downsides of a natural lawn
Anyone who has looked after a lawn knows the downsides well:
- The time and expense of mowing, weeding, fertilising and watering
- Expense, maintenance and storage of a lawnmower
- Seasonal variations – dry and cracked in summer and an unusable muddy bog in winter
Benefits of artificial turf
- Consistent attractive presentation – “real” looking, weed free and lush all year round
- Cost control – a one-off payment and then guaranteed years with no expense needed
- No time and expense of mowing or maintenance
- Child and pet friendly all year round
- Dries out quickly and is rated as a permeable surface for planning reasons
- Choice – choose different pile heights, textures and appearance to suit your lifestyle
There are some particular situations where our clients are especially interested in artificial turf:
- Commercial areas such as atriums where an attractive and quiet solution is needed.
- Childcare centres where low maintenance surfaces are needed all year round
- Residential gardens difficult to access with a lawnmower, or if the space they have for a lawn is so small it’s not really worth the trouble of owning a lawnmower
- Some clients even include both real lawn and artificial turf in their garden, often just so the children have a dry space to play all year round.
Artificial turf really has some great benefits but there are a few downsides.
- It would need to be replaced at some point. Standard warranties are 7 years but may last longer depending on use and care.
- Appearance – modern turfs are surprisingly realistic and you have to get really close to see it’s not real grass. However for some people, the idea of something artificial in their garden can be a hard thing to reconcile. It helps if you think of artificial turf as just another permeable hard surface similar to pebble, decking or permeable paving.
- Environmental impact on soil life below the turf.
Environmental impact of artificial turf
Firstly it’s important to remember that general lawn care involves fertilisers and pesticides for weeds, both of which imbalance the biomass of the soil underneath.
The topsoil biomass can be as much as 1.5kg per square metre, made up of bacteria and fungi, nematodes, mites and earthworms. In fact there is greater biodiversity underground compared with above the ground. The soil biomass and their activities determine the survival and growth of all plants and animals in our ecosystem.
Fertile soil has an abundance of plant nutrients such as Potassium, Phosphorus and Nitrogen and a pH level of 5-6 as well as an abundance of organic matter. A truly healthy soil is difficult to achieve with a standard lawn anyway, especially given our preference for synthetic fast-release fertilisers and pesticides.
Artificial turf offers no nutrients or organic matter but can save water, avoid the use of harmful pesticides and fertilisers and also the emissions and carbon footprint of owning a lawnmower. Given the small areas artificial turf is generally used for in residential gardens, there is debate about which is better environmentally.
We recommend you look at samples, read the information from the manufacturer and decide what best suits your outdoor landscaping style and function.
# We often use Tiger Turf (illustrated in the photos above) but there is a huge range of turf options available. Just ask us about viewing samples of artificial turf we recommend.