Whether you’re a homeowner considering what material to use for a new lawn or a school board approving the construction of a new playing field, at some point, you’re going to have to answer the question: how does natural grass compare to synthetic grass? What are the pros and cons of each in terms of cost and effort for care? While the considerations are of course different for a homeowner compared to something like a school or commercial campus, the overall facts are the same. Let’s look at how maintenance of residential synthetic grass compares to the real thing.
What Is Residential Synthetic Grass?
When it comes to synthetic grass, most people probably think of how it used to be. “AstroTurf” was first installed in the Houston Astrodome in the 1960s, hence the name. While a marvel of the time, the first generation of synthetic grass was notorious for looking and feeling like, well, plastic. If you were a football player getting tackled, going down on natural grass was a lot more comfortable than taking a tumble on stiff synthetic turf.
Fortunately, the model for synthetic grass has come quite a long way over the years. Today, we’re in the middle of the third generation of synthetic grass, residential or commercial, and the quality of synthetic lawns is better than ever.
Modern residential synthetic grass tends to be made from three materials: polyethylene, polypropylene, and nylon. It can be made in different densities and to different heights depending on need. For instance, wanting a lush-looking front yard versus wanting a closely cut practice putting green would have you needing different lengths of the turf.
What Maintenance Does Natural Grass Need?
There are many types of grass popular around the country (and world), but odds are, if you’ve grown up anywhere outside a major city—and sometimes even inside one—you’re familiar with grass lawns. Many, if not most, Americans are familiar with the work needed to maintain a natural grass lawn.
You need to regularly water your lawn, as with all plants, especially in drier seasons when you can’t be guaranteed natural rainfall. You need to cut your lawn regularly, not just for the health of your lawn but also to avoid harboring nasty beasties like ticks or earning disapproving glances from your neighbors. Many an entrepreneurial youth has made money in spring and summer mowing lawns.
If the grass dies, due to things like a lack of water or pet urine, you also need to go purchase seed and replant the grass.
What Maintenance Does Residential Synthetic Grass Need?
While natural grass needs regular watering to survive and regular mowing to improve its health—and just to look nice—one of the chief benefits of synthetic grass is that it needs neither of those things at all. You could set your mower on off and push it around your synthetic grass if you really wanted to, but the fact that it doesn’t need mowing is part of the beauty.
Synthetic grass typically requires very little maintenance. It’s recommended that you give a synthetic grass lawn a rinse every now and then to remove things like dust—not to the extent of a full watering, but a once-over with a hose should be more than satisfactory. You should also periodically rake your synthetic grass lawn, getting rid of any debris or other materials that might have settled between the strands in the process. Brushing a synthetic grass lawn can remove any tangles or kinks that might have developed. However, these are required very rarely.
Synthetic Grass vs. Natural Grass Lawns
This all sounds like a reason why you should run out and hire a residential synthetic grass installer this instant, right? To an extent, it certainly is—the lack of regular maintenance is a big point in the favor of synthetic lawns. However, there are pros and cons to both types of lawns.
Synthetic lawns don’t require water
Other than the occasional rinsing mentioned above, synthetic lawns don’t require a lot of water. The changing climate means that droughts may become more common in many areas, and a lawn that doesn’t need regular watering will be better for the environment.
Natural grass won’t get very hot
Even in the hottest climates, natural grass won’t ever get hot to the point of being uncomfortable to stand on, typically topping out around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Synthetic grass, on the other hand, retains significantly greater heat, and its temperature can well exceed 100 degrees. So if you’re in a part of the world where it gets hot and your lawn is exposed to direct sunlight, just know that you shouldn’t go out barefoot on your turf during a scorcher. If you’re worried about pets or children, a quick cold-water rinse with the hose will reduce the temperature.
Natural grass is much cheaper to replace
The life span of a synthetic grass lawn typically is well over a decade, but sooner or later, you will have to replace it. This means taking it all out and installing a new turf lawn. By contrast, a natural grass lawn just requires you to go get more seeds, which are much cheaper.
Artificial grass looks exactly how you want, year-round
A natural grass lawn will grow, turn brown, and even die, depending on the climate and the season. A residential synthetic grass lawn will always look exactly how you want it at all times of the year. No overgrowth here.
Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and perhaps where you live. If you’re in a rain-heavy part of the planet, perhaps the water savings of synthetic grass aren’t as big of a deal. On the other hand, if you live in a drier climate, you might want to consider residential synthetic lawns in the near future. In dry parts of Australia, for example, the government is recommending the use of synthetic turf for commercial purposes primarily due to the water savings.
Either way, it’s important to understand the different types of residential synthetic grass, so you should be sure to consult an expert, such as the team at Sportech, before you commit to anything.