Turf Wars: Fake Grass v Real Grass
In the not too distant past, artificial or fake grass was usually confined to sports pitches and greengrocers’ windows. Over the last decade or so though, a lot has changed.
As manufacturing techniques improve, artificial grass, fake grass or astro turf depending on what you like to call it is starting to look more and more like the real thing. The result is that the much maligned fake stuff is increasingly starting to find its way into our back gardens as an alternative to real turf.
arguably it’s not just increased realism that is fuelling this uptake. The increasingly busy lifestyle of Essex families with two working parents has created a market for convenience that has seen the low maintenance artificial grass lawn go from strength to strength.
Can it ever replace the real thing? Well, whilst that question may ultimately come down to taste, let's take a quick look at the pros and cons of both to get an idea of what each can offer.
Real grass will require regular maintenance to look its best, including mowing, watering, weeding and feeding. On the other hand, the only maintenance that is required for artificial grass or astro turf is occasional brushing and hosing down to remove any dirt or stains. Fake grass won't last forever, though and will need replacing after about 15 years.
It does not take too much wear and tear for real grass to start looking less than perfect. Dogs and children can easily damage lawns and the grass can become sparse or bald. Mud and water can affect the appearance of a real lawn, as can scorching heat. If your lawn is going to get a lot of use, or is susceptible to wear and tear, then artificial grass, astro turf or fake grass could be the perfect panacea to all your turf woes.
Artificial grass is also highly adaptable and is perfectly suited to very small outdoor spaces like roof or terrace gardens, where it may be impractical to use a lawnmower. It does not, however, lend itself well to use on slopes.
There’s no getting around it, fake grass is far more expensive compared to real turf in terms of initial outlay, costing anywhere from £10 to £30 per square metre (expect to pay more for better-quality artificial grass types). You could save money by installing it yourself, but for a professional result it is highly recommended that you hire out a specialist or landscaper. Many artificial grass companies will also offer an installation service.
With real grass the costs involved are in maintaining it. These can vary greatly, depending on how much of a lawn perfectionist you are. The costs of water, fertiliser and mowing might seem tiny but they add up over the years. With fake grass the costs of maintenance are practically zero.
Unlike fake grass, real grass is able to support a natural biodiversity, allowing worms under the soil to thrive. That is not to say, however, that real grass scores a clean sheet when it comes all things environmentally friendly. The energy or petrol used for mowing have environmental impacts as does the need to water and fertilise the soil.
Fake grass, too, has a negative impact, being made from plastic and relying on oil for its production, although, new turfs are now in development that use recycled bottles for their core material. You can bet that the potential of an environmentally friendly, low maintenance and realistic looking fake lawn hasn’t been lost on artificial grass manufacturers.
Whichever type of grass you choose there are advantages and disadvantages to both. With artificial grass improving all the time, it’s becoming an increasingly viable option for our gardens and busy lifestyles. To what extent it takes off will ultimately depend on public perceptions. Ultimately, whether you choose to keep it real or start faking it depends on your individual tastes, needs and lifestyle.