Is Artificial Grass Worth It?

I put in a large rectangle of fake grass about two years ago, to elevate the look of my burgeoning French country garden.  Before, that area was REAL grass.  And while it looked beautiful at first, it quickly became problematic: there were many yellow, dog pee spots; it became impossible to edge on the sides, as it was too close to my raised garden beds, so it looked “shaggy” on the edges; & overall, it was creating a headache, as it never looked that good!  Hiring guys to take care of it would cost a minimum of $200/month, & so I was facing the question: is artificial grass worth it? 

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You can see my artificial grass here: because there are so many plants surrounding it, it looks quite real. And the best part: I do NOTHING to take care of it!!

For me, overwhelmingly, that answer has been YES.  But we’ll dig into the pros & cons of artifical turf here, & see why it may work really well for some people ~ but not so well for others.

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Pros & Cons of Artificial Grass

Benefits of Fake Grass

  •  Virtually NO Maintenance Required: No mowing, no watering, & NO irrigation required (which could cost in the thousands of dollars to set up);
  • Dogs Can Pee On It & NOT Stain It!  My own grass was starting to look unsightly from so many yellow spots. In my case, the fake grass is FAR superior, & elevates the appearance of the entire yard.
  • Looks MUCH Better in Winter than Real Grass, especially in climates that freeze. In my Zone 6 garden, from November thru April, my real grass turns yellow: simply because you have to turn off the water, so your pipes don’t burst. Having fake grass gives you a big pop of green in the winter, which is a welcome sight ~ & makes the grass function more like an evergreen.
  • Virtually ZERO On-Going Costs: You may need to rake your fake grass from time to time (in two years, I’ve never done this), so that it stands more *erect.* But you don’t need to pay someone to mow it, which could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars per year ~ & you also don’t need to spend your Saturdays mowing the lawn. Overall water costs for your home will also be less, as lawns are one of the neediest in terms of watering.
  • Once Installed, You NEVER Worry About It! This is probably the single-most important benefit, from my perspective. I’m now not worried about edging, trimming, getting rid of yellow spots, worrying about who’s going to mow the grass ~ ALL those worries are gone with fake grass. And I can spend time where I actually enjoy spending it: with my trees & flowers.

Is Artificial Grass Worth It? Girl Who Gardens

The “BEFORE” photo of my real grass: it looks terrible!!

Benefits of Artificial Grass, Girl Who Gardens

And the AFTER, two years later! The difference is night & day.

The greatest benefit of the fake grass in my backyard is: it’s allowed me to spend SO much more time helping my trees & flowers THRIVE. And because I’ve spent so much money establishing this yard, that’s a huge benefit that has paid off in spades.

Downsides of Fake Grass

  •  The COST: The HUGE up-front cost of artificial grass is clearly the biggest downside. My 12′ X 30′ area cost $5,800 to install, with the raw material costing about $3,000 of that. Unfortunately, this is just too expensive for many people.
  • The Plastics it’s Made From May be Bad for the Environment: Artificial grass is made from polyethylene, nylons, & various microplastics. Some say the whole process of manufacturing turf is bad for the environment, & that microplastics might leach into your soil because of it. The counterpoint to this argument is that the watering needs for a regular lawn may be just as harmful, particularly in drought-affected areas.
  • Fake Grass Does NOT Attract Pollinators. The truth is though: neither does real grass. Bees & butterflies hover around my catmint, water fountains, & Russian Sage ~ but I’ve never seen them hover around fake or real grass. You can combat this simply by adding other plants & flowers around the turf.
  • It Can Get Really Hot in the Summertime: Because it’s made of plastic ~ that plastic can obviously heat up with high temperatures. Where I live in Bend, temperatures often reach 90+ degrees in the summer.  But interestingly: I’ve never noticed my turf exceed temps that you can walk barefoot on. So again, I don’t know if this is because they’ve improved the turf itself…but I suspect it is.
  • Artificial Grass Can Start to Smell if Your Dog Pees Frequently On It: I’ve noticed this more at my parent’s property: their patch of fake grass is about 10′ X 10′ ~ & it’s the main spot where their dog pees. As they live in Palm Springs, temperatures get as high as 120 degrees…& that heat isn’t great for pee smells. If your grass has a stench, give it a good watering, to let those stains sink down into the lower base levels of sand. I’ve thankfully never noticed a pee smell with my turf ~ I think because it’s quite a bit larger, & my dog pees all over the yard, not just on the fake grass. 
  • It LOOKS Fake: I think this used to be more of a problem with the original turf products. My dog rolls around in the fake grass every morning, just like she did when it was real. I worked out on it the other day, & while laying down doing sit-ups ~ I was shocked how soft it is! Turfs these days are much higher-quality, & far more “real” looking. (Note: You can also purchase turf with more “yellow” in it ~ to make it look even more real, or not-SO green.)

Pros & Cons of Artificial Grass, Girl Who Gardens

My dog rolls around in the fake grass every morning, rain or shine!

What to Ask if You’re Considering Fake Grass

  • How much time are you currrently spending taking care of your grass?  Do you enjoy mowing, edging, watering, & generally keeping it looking good?  If yes, than fake grass probably isn’t your best option.  If you hate dealing with grass (like I did), than it’s something to consider. 
  • Are your pets ruining the look of your grass with pee stains (especially in the backyard)?  How much is this detracting from the overall look of your yard?  In my case, the poor-looking back lawn was majorly detracting from the rest of my garden ~ which I’ve spent quite a bit of money on.  The artificial lawn has greatly increased not only the value of my home: but my enjoyment of it, & I think it has 10X’ed how attractive the rest of my yard looks.  That pop of green enhances all my plants, making them stand out even more….& giving it the real “cottage garden” look I wanted. 
  • How much money are you currently spending on your grass (for gardeners, to water, etc.)?  If you take care of your own lawn: what is your time worth?  What might you rather be doing than mowing the lawn?  How much would your water bill reduce without a lawn to water?  Ponder these questions as you consider the high up-front cost of installing artificial grass.  For some, the ongoing maintenance costs may equal the cost of turf within a year or two, depending where you live.
  • How often do you have other pets over?  If the answer is often, then even if you’ve trained your own dog to pee elsewhere ~ other dogs may be peeing on your lawn, creating those unsightly stains.  Nearly all my friends have dogs, & now when they come over: I’m not chasing them off the lawn….because I don’t really care where they pee!

Is Artificial Grass Worth It? Girl Who Gardens

My friend Kadi filling up a pool for her baby & my puppy to play in! Dogs & kids both love the fake grass…

Is Artificial Grass Worth It? Girl Who Gardens

If you have dogs: then artificial turf (especially in the backyard) may prove to be well worth the investment.

What I’ve noticed from entertaining: dogs & kids both LOVE the fake grass, & gravitate towards it ~ while adults tend to “hang out” & congregate on the deck….or now, in the “She Shed!” My friends’ kids have tea parties in little chairs on the turf, while others enjoy cartwheeling & playing chase…meanwhile, the dogs just like to run & roll on it!

Is Artificial Grass Worth It?

I think the bottom line with artificial turf is: is the cost something you can afford, & will it make your life that much easier ~ especially in the long-run?  The answer for me was yes….but for you, it may be no.  If you do really want it, & think you can’t afford it, but are tired of yellow dog stains: consider adding just a small patch of it to your backyard, whatever you can afford. 

That alone may make your life much easier, & your yard look that much better.

xoxo Noelia

Read Next: How to Self-Water Plants When on Vacation

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Pros & Cons of Artifical Turf: Is It Worth It? Girl Who Gardens