Both artificial grass and real turf are popular landscaping options. Each offer their own, unique benefits and drawbacks. In this article we explore the pros and cons of each, helping you to decide on the best choice for your garden.

Real Turf vs. Artificial Grass – Children and Pets

Kids

A well cared for, real lawn will reward you with its luscious green beauty, but a poorly maintained lawn will only make your garden look unkempt. Vibrant, real lawns are beautiful to look at and comfortable to lounge on. As a living plant, real grass moderates its own temperature, making it comfortable to lounge on during hot summer days. Artificial grass on the other hand can sometimes get a little too hot to lie on or walk on with bare feet. However, if your kids enjoy playing in the paddling pool or running through the sprinkler when it’s hot, one drawback of real grass could be that they become covered in mud and grass blades. Artificial grass on the other hand won’t become muddy when wet, and kids can happily jump in and out of the pool without it becoming filled with grass.

Both artificial grass and turf are suitable for outdoor play equipment. Artificial grass won’t become discoloured or die back under the load of the equipment, but may not provide as much of a soft landing as real turf. Also, as artificial turf is essentially an outdoor carpet, it is possible to cause friction burns, so it is best to lay play mats over landing areas such as the bottom of a slide. Artificial grass is also a great option for kids who are allergic to grass pollen.

Pets

Pets can wreck havoc on natural lawns. Pet urination can cause spots of discolouration and patchiness, and dogs that like to dig can quickly turn a fresh green landscape into an unsightly and hazardous one. Artificial grass may be a better choice if you have a pet that likes to dig, or mark their territory across the lawn. On the other hand, artificial grass may not be suitable for puppies who enjoy chewing and tearing things, as they may see the grass (especially long grass) as something they can freely pull and tear at. Cats may also not be the best pets to have around artificial grass, as some could use it like a scratching post, which will eventually wear away the synthetic material.

Artificial grass – Children and Pets

Pros

  • Mud and mess free – won’t cause grass stains or blades of grass to enter paddling pool
  • Great for kids with grass pollen allergies or hay fever
  • Play equipment and pet urination won’t cause dieback
  • Dogs cannot create large holes from digging
  • No need to use toxic weed killer or slug repellent

Cons

  • No temperature regulation- can become hot under direct sunlight
  • Harder than real turf – less of a soft landing
  • Puppies and cats may chew and scratch the blades

Real turf – Children and Pets

Pros

  • Maintains a comfortable temperature for barefoot walking and lounging
  • Provides softer landing beneath play equipment

Cons

  • Easily becomes muddy when wet – not ideal for paddling pool use
  • Can cause grass and mud stains on children’s clothing

Real Turf vs. Artificial Grass – Environment

Both artificial grass and real turf rely on the help of natural resources. As we all know, real lawns are living plants requiring regular watering, fertilising and cutting. On the other hand, artificial grass requires little maintenance once laid, but does require energy to produce, and even the recycled kind calls for raw materials such as petroleum. However, whilst neither option is one hundred percent environmentally friendly both materials can be considered fairly ‘green’ compared to other landscaping materials.

Artificial Grass

Once installed artificial grass could last up to 30 years before needing to be replaced. And, even after the lawn has seen better days, it doesn’t mean dumping it into a landfill – like many other synthetic materials, artificial grass can be recycled. Artificial grass also eliminates the need for fertilisers and pesticides, both of which can cause harmful effects on the environment and the health of our families and pets. Artificial turf requires no watering either, so that’s almost 30 years of sprinkler and hose pipe use saved!

Real Turf

As a living plant, the lifespan of your turf depends on how well it is cared for. If you like the sound of real turf, but are conscious about its required water consumption, you can look to greener alternatives to keep your lawn healthy. Rainwater butts are an excellent alternative to sprinklers and homemade fertilizers offer a less harmful alternative to the store bought kinds. If you’re concerned about your lawn mowers fuel or electricity consumption, you can use a reel lawn mower instead. Real lawn mowers do require a little more ‘man-power’ but cut grass using a rotating blade and thus use no electricity or fuel.

Artificial grass – Environment

Pros

  • Doesn’t require watering
  • Doesn’t require the use of harmful fertilisers or pesticides
  • Doesn’t require mowing using electric or fuel powered mowers
  • Can last up to 30 years
  • Can be recycled after use
  • Can be set up to harvest rainwater runoff for other, living plants

Cons

  • Manufacturing process contributes to carbon emissions
  • Manufacturing process uses natural resources

Real turf – Environment

Pros

  • Improves air quality – Absorb carbon dioxide and other gases
  • Releases oxygen
  • Keeps soil healthy
  • Supports natural ecosystems

Cons

  • Relies on resources to stay healthy – water, fertiliser etc.
  • Requires cutting via electric or fuel powered lawnmower (if reel lawnmower is not used)
  • Fertiliser can cause harm to people and pets

Final Word

It’s clear to see that both artificial grass and real turf are suitable options for the domestic family garden, and each offer their own set of benefits. Thus, when it comes to making the decision as to which one is best for your garden, the choice should be based on which material offers the most benefits and least drawbacks to your personal lifestyle and home.

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