Is Fake Grass Coming of Age?

Is fake grass coming of age?
It's been around for 45 years, but synthetic grass has been slow to take off in the UK, despite becoming relatively popular for domestic lawns in the arid southern states of America and the Middle East. It seems the British love of horticulture has stood in its way. Until now.
A slow tide is turning, perhaps because of our changing climate or our gardens getting smaller. When B&Q launched its first synthetic grass brand this spring, more than 7,000 square metres sold in a matter of weeks. Fake turf also made its debut in a show garden at the Chelsea Flower Show recently, despite much sniffing from certain quarters within the RHS.

I can't believe it's not turf
Modern synthetic turf is a world apart from the greengrocer display mats of decades past. The key to realism is finding an artificial grass that doesn't look too perfect. This means more than one shade of green, a mixture of curly and straight yarns and with some fake "thatch". After all, nothing proves your lawn is real better than a few dead patches here and there.
Always ask for samples, just as you would with carpet: you can lay them out on a real lawn, check the colour, and test how they feel underfoot. In general, the more expensive products have more polyethylene tufts which makes them softer and floppier whereas "play" brands usually contain more polypropylene – a tougher tuft. Cheaper types are a more vivid green.

When is fake better than real?
When you're gardening under tree canopies or in heavy shade; for roof terraces, where the synthetic option removes myriad problems from watering to weight limitations; for play areas, where a soft landing is needed (children's football games can soon obliterate even the toughest grass); and where space is at such a premium that a mower simply isn't an option.

The right foundations
One of the main benefits of fake lawns is that you can lay them over practically anything: concrete, tarmac, sand, earth, even decking. However, if the surface isn't uniformly smooth, for example where you have uneven paving slabs, you will need to add an underlay or sand base beneath your turf to level it off.

Fake turf, real prices
When it comes to pricing, fake grass is similar to wigs or tans: if you're going for realism, expect to pay. Most luxury brands are around £25-£30 a square metre and this price can be doubled if you want it installed. However, if it's more about a playable surface than a realistic lawn you can pay as little as £10 per square metre.


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