The Advantages and Disadvantages of Artificial Grass
- Why to choose a fake lawn over a real one
- The environmental impact of artificial grass
- Main points broken down
A fake lawn may sound like the best solution for many and while it comes with plenty of benefits, there are also drawbacks. For example, you will no longer have to think about cutting your lawn with an artificial grass garden, but do you want to give up the pleasing freshly cut grass smell? Some of the comparisons aren’t as clear cut as this and this article will aim to explain all the artificial grass pros and cons in detail to keep you better informed.
Artificial Grass Pros and Cons
First off, an artificial grass garden will always look aesthetically pleasing year-round. It doesn’t require much maintenance either, so you can enjoy it straight away without as much effort as actual grass. The main advantage is that artificial grass doesn’t require cutting. While this does sound like a lazy person’s dream, artificial grass can also be more beneficial for the environment through the reduction in the use of petrol powered lawnmowers and garden tools. These have a staggering impact on air pollution; much more so than cars. Research suggests that using a petrol powered lawnmower for an hour produces the same amount of emissions as running a car for 100 miles.
A fake lawn is also more beneficial for older and less able people, as the reduced maintenance gives them the freedom to not worry about the rigours of garden upkeep. Artificial grass is also useful for those who live away from home a lot or make use of a holiday home elsewhere. When returning to your lawn, you won’t find a garden in desperate need of a cut. This also works for those who live a busy lifestyle and for those who don’t have time for maintenance. You can also cut down on the cost of hiring a gardener.
The second biggest advantage to artificial grass is that it doesn’t require watering. It will reduce your water bill (if you’re not using a water butt) and is installed with drainage in mind. As artificial grass allows water through, it doesn’t suffer from the same muddy issues as real grass, so doesn’t pose an issue in inclement weather, and usually dries out more quickly. A fake lawn will then not turn brown or die in the summer or throughout droughts and is also UV-stable, so it won’t discolour.
Technology has improved massively since the 1960s when artificial grass was first introduced. Nowadays, you’re able to buy fake grass that looks and feels more like the real thing, especially high-end products. As such, it comes in a plethora of styles, heights, colours and textures to suit your needs. Artificial grass can also be soft and cushioned, which allows for pets and children to enjoy the benefits of playing on it. Hay fever becomes less noticeable with a fake lawn too.
Usually lasting around 15-20 years, artificial grass can be more cost-effective over its lifetime as you won’t need to buy fertilisers, grass feed and seed, strimmers, trimmers, weeders or pesticides. As it’s installed over a weed membrane, artificial grass prevents weeds from appearing and is also resistant to any diseases typically associated with real grass, which also makes it perfect for shaded areas. If the manufacturer is eco-conscious enough, artificial grass can also be recycled at the end of its lifetime.
Even though you have the potential to save on water, the environmental impact of artificial grass can’t be ignored. Production can be harmful to the environment and produce waste and emissions. In terms of water use, a fake lawn takes around 3,744 litres of water to manufacture, which is the equivalent of watering a real lawn for about 18 years. As the grass is likely to need replacing around this time, there’s no real-life benefit when it comes to water use, especially as you’ll need to keep washing artificial grass to keep it clean. Also, if it’s not installed properly, it can prevent drainage, causing surface water runoff, and contribute to flooding.
The second biggest limitation with artificial grass is how it disconnects you from nature. This isn’t just the point about no longer enjoying the smell of freshly cut grass. You lose the connection with the real world and the vital experience you get with real grass, such as an improvement in wellbeing. The biodiversity of your garden will be incredibly limited as well. Worms won’t be able to break the surface of the soil and essential nutrients won’t be able to make their way into the ground for bugs, snails, slugs and microscopic beings. Birds will no longer be found on your grass as the food won’t be there for them. A healthy lawn is a natural carbon store, but replacing it with artificial grass stops this process from happening altogether.
If we take into account the sheer amount of plastic that artificial grass is made from, there’s no way this can be good for the environment. Microplastics are a serious health concern and a fake lawn will cause these to make their way into the ground and into wildlife. Coupled with this is how difficult it is to recycle. While some manufacturers claim they can recycle their product, you should question this as artificial grass is extremely difficult to be reused once it’s reached the end of its lifecycle. It also doesn’t last anywhere near as long as natural grass, which has a potentially indefinite lifespan. This means it either can’t or won’t be recycled, adding more plastic waste to the environment.
Besides the environmental issues, artificial grass comes at a huge cost. Cheaper alternatives are available, but they won’t last as long as their expensive counterparts. The installation can also be a lengthy process as fake grass needs a level surface on which it can be installed. If your garden isn’t in good enough shape, this can cause you extra labour costs on top of the installation of a suitable sub-base. For a detailed rundown on artificial grass costs, see our related article.
Finally, artificial grass is incredibly subjective. Some people think it looks clean, neat and tidy, while others see it as only looking fake, being totally incomparable to real grass. In periods of hot weather, fake grass becomes very hot and can be painful to touch. This can make it uncomfortable and dangerous for children and pets to be on, likewise because it’s also capable of providing friction burns. Sliding bare-kneed on real grass is not something you can achieve with an artificial grass garden.
Main Arguments For and Against Artificial Grass
Ultimately, with artificial grass pros and cons, there is a balance between saving time and saving the environment. While a natural lawn stores carbon and supports nature, it does need regular work and maintenance. The alternative is to save all that time and effort by paving it over with plastic. If you’re still set on getting artificial grass, you can limit the impact on your garden wildlife by making sure you have flower pots and hanging baskets. By incorporating as many plants and flowers in your garden as you can, you will restrict how damaging your fake lawn is to wildlife.