Artificial grass vs. natural grass is a comparison made by homeowners throughout Arlington, TX every day.
By installing artificial grass you’ll save both time and money on maintaining your lawn, as synthetic grass doesn’t require the same level of upkeep as natural grass.
It’s also more durable, and won’t wear out or die like natural grass.
An important factor to keep in mind when comparing artificial grass vs. natural grass is the impact on the environment or eco-friendliness of your chosen ground cover.
The decision to go with artificial grass over natural grass isn’t an easy one, as both options have advantages and disadvantages.
Considering how new artificial grass is to the landscaping scene, you likely have a lot of questions about artificial grass and whether it will live up to the hype.
- What maintenance does artificial grass require?
- How long will an artificial grass lawn last?
- Will it improve my home’s aesthetics & curb appeal?
- Will it need to be replaced?
- How much does it cost to install artificial grass?
This article will give you a complete head-to-head comparison of the time, energy, cost, aesthetics, and maintenance required for artificial grass vs. natural grass.
We want to empower you with the information about artificial grass that you need to make the best decision for your Arlington, TX home or business.
Artificial Grass vs. Natural Grass: A Head-To-Head Comparison Guide
Both artificial grass and natural grass have advantages and disadvantages that you’ll have to weigh against your specific needs.
You’ll have to consider your situation, finances, and circumstances to determine whether artificial grass or real grass is the best option for you and your family.
Naturally, we have an opinion, but this guide is meant to provide you with an unbiased comparison of artificial grass vs. natural grass so you can take what you learn and make an informed decision.
The first major public appearance of artificial grass was when “Astroturf” was used in place of a natural grass field in the Houston Astrodome in the mid-1960s.
A lot has changed since then and the plastic-looking ground cover from the Astrodome has evolved and been transformed into something else entirely!
Modern artificial grass looks and feels nothing like the ugly green carpet that covered the field of Houston’s Astrodome.
Technological advancements in materials and manufacturing technology have produced true-to-life artificial grass products that you often can’t tell are synthetic.
Most artificial grass products are made out of:
- Golf & Backyard Putting Greens
- Front, Side & Backyard Lawns
- Dog Runs & Pet Areas
- Commercial Landscapes
- Doggy Daycares, Veterinarians, Animal Shelter
- Roofs, Decks, Patios & Outdoor Living Spaces
- Children’s Backyard Play Areas
- School Playgrounds & Local Parks
- Swimming Pool Decks & Pool Surrounds
- … And More!
These life-like artificial grass products are not only incredibly realistic but also resistant to weather and damage from UV rays as well as being eco-friendly and functionally similar to real grass.
With the added benefits of eliminating maintenance and watering requirements, the long-term cost of artificial grass is significantly less than natural grass.
What Are The Benefits of Artificial Grass?
For homeowners, the benefits of artificial grass are numerous and significant in the positive impact they’ll have on you and your family.
While by no means exhaustive, below we’ll outline what we consider to be the biggest benefits of artificial grass for homeowners.
Artificial grass is:
- Low-Maintenance – No more mowing, re-seeding, watering, fertilizing, weeding, or trimming, which saves you a lot of time and the money you’d have to spend on expensive gas-powered lawn care equipment or hiring a landscaper.
- Safe for Dogs & Pets – Dogs are kept from being exposed to potentially harmful chemicals like fertilizers and pesticides. There’s also less risk of exposure to fleas and ticks. Pet-friendly turf drainage systems allow dog urine to quickly drain into the sub-base.
- Looks Perfect Year-Round – You’ll enjoy a lush, green, picture-perfect lawn year-round.
- Safe for Children – Kids are actually more safe on artificial grass than on natural grass, as tripping hazards like rocks and uneven surfaces are removed. Additionally, there’s no risk of exposure to lawn care chemicals.
- Eliminates Fertilizers & Pesticides – Artificial grass stays green year-round no matter what, so you can say goodbye to fertilizers and pesticides.
- Durable & Long-Lasting – A 20 – 25 year lifespan means you could save thousands in maintenance and watering costs long term
- Saves Water – No more watering your lawn every day. With artificial grass, the occasional rinse with a hose is all you’ll need.
- Inhibits Bugs & Insects – Without the organic matter needed to survive, bugs, insects, and other pests will have to go elsewhere to find a home.
- Drought Resistant – No rain? No problem with artificial grass.
- Hypoallergenic / Allergen-Free – You can say goodbye to pollen with artificial grass. You’ll only have to deal with whatever pollen is carried onto your turf lawn by the wind.
- Good Investment – The high upfront cost is worth it when looking at the long-term maintenance costs of artificial grass vs. natural grass.
- Boosts Curb Appeal – A picture-perfect lawn will transform your home’s outdoor aesthetics.
- Increases Home Value – Having low-maintenance landscaping installed will boost your home’s value, especially if you have a backyard putting green.
- Eco-Friendly – Not having to mow your lawn with a gas-powered mower will significantly reduce your carbon emissions. Not having to water your lawn or treat it with chemicals are also good for the environment.
The overwhelming majority of residential properties in the US have a natural grass lawn.
Natural grass comes in dozens of varieties, each with a distinct blade width, color, growing conditions, and water requirements.
Therefore, it is essential that you choose the correct natural grass for your climate and region.
Growing and maintaining a natural grass lawn here in Arlington, TX is time and labor-intensive.
A natural grass lawn will require regular:
What Are The Benefits of Natural Grass?
The biggest selling point or biggest benefit of natural grass is the fact that it’s natural and the role that it plays in the environment.
Another benefit of natural grass is its ability to reseed itself, once it’s been established, so if you maintain it, it will return each year.
Natural grass does produce oxygen for the atmosphere and takes up CO2 and other pollutants.
The roots of natural grass extend down into the earth where its they help to hold the soil in place, which helps to prevent erosion.
Additionally, natural grass improves soil chemistry and cools the air as well.
A natural grass lawn can be thought of as a micro-ecosystem under your feet, where the insects, rodents, and other organisms provide food for birds and other predators.
Grass is also an important part of the microscopic ecosystem beneath your feet, providing food and a home for various birds, insects, rodents, and other organisms.
Eco-Friendliness of Artificial Grass & Natural Grass
You may think you already know the answer to this comparison, but I urge you to reserve judgment because the reality might surprise you.
Below we’re going to explore the eco-friendliness of artificial grass vs. natural grass.
Eco-Friendliness of Artificial Grass
Growing concern over water availability means artificial grass has become a much more viable option for many homeowners.
Contrary to what you might think, and honestly somewhat surprisingly, artificial grass is actually very environmentally-friendly.
The elimination of gas-powered lawn care equipment drastically reduces your carbon emissions and reliance on fossil fuels.
Artificial grass doesn’t need to be treated with chemicals like fertilizers and pesticides to maintain its lush, green, healthy appearance.
When used on natural grass, those chemicals soak into the ground where they can contaminate underground water supplies.
They also get washed away as runoff, eventually making their way to streams and rivers.
Lastly, an artificial grass lawn doesn’t need to be watered, so you can save money on your water bill and help the environment by reducing the amount of water wasted every day by people watering their lawns.
Eco-Friendliness of Natural Grass
Assuming that just because natural grass is a plant, it must be better for the environment than artificial grass would be a mistake.
Let’s take a look at some numbers to bring some clarity to the dispute over the eco-friendliness of artificial grass vs. natural grass.
Every year in the US, the average natural grass lawn owner is going to spend 70 hours maintaining their lawn.
According to the EPA, a push lawn mower emits the same amount of pollution in one hour as 11 cars, and the riding mowers used on larger lawns emit as much as 34 cars.
Let’s say for argument’s sake that, conservatively, half of the 70 hours of maintenance time is spent mowing.
That’s the same amount of pollution emitted by a car running for 7.5 hours every week!
It doesn’t stop there, as once you’ve cut the grass, you have to do something with your clippings.
Most homeowners bring their grass clippings to landfills, which is why according to the EPA, grass clippings are the third largest component of municipal solid waste in landfills.
If you’re a granola munching hippy that uses a manual mower and composts your lawn clippings, then your lawn is eco-friendly.
For everyone else, your “natural grass lawn” is a significant source of pollution.
Natural grass doesn’t stop at the ground, and what’s going on underneath natural grass lawns is having a very negative environmental impact.
The fertilizers and pesticides so liberally applied to residential lawns have cause algal blooms, fish deaths, and cancer in pets and children.
A natural grass lawn might seem like the obviously eco-friendly option, but the environmental impact is significant.
Aesthetics of Artificial Grass vs. Natural Grass
Every homeowner wants a lush, green, smooth, and beautiful lawn to enjoy with friends, family, and pets.
Below we’ll compare the aesthetics of artificial grass vs. natural grass.
Aesthetics of Artificial Grass
With artificial grass, you can choose from a variety of color combinations, lengths, densities, etc., to ensure you’ll have a perfect-looking lawn that looks completely realistic and natural-looking.
Artificial grass not only looks but also feels exactly like natural grass.
You’ll boost your home’s curb appeal, and will no longer have to worry about dead patches or brown spots from dog urine ruining the aesthetics of your lawn.
Aesthetics of Natural Grass
A lush and full natural grass lawn is a thing of beauty that improves the look of pretty much every outdoor space.
That said, achieving and maintaining a lush and full natural grass lawn requires a lot of weekend hours or a full-time gardener.
This is especially true here in Texas, where the summer sun is relentless and merciless on natural grass lawns.
Maintaining an aesthetically pleasing natural grass lawn is almost impossible without expending significant amounts of time and energy.
Safety & Cleanliness of Artificial Grass vs. Natural Grass
While you may not mind that your lawn isn’t picture-perfect, if you have children or pets, ensuring that they’re safe and clean when playing in your yard is a top priority.
Below we’ll provide an overview of the safety and cleanliness of artificial grass vs. natural grass.
Safety & Cleanliness of Artificial Grass
There are a number of rumors, myths, and misconceptions regarding the safety of artificial grass.
One such rumor, is that the crumb rubber infill material commonly used on sports fields, which is made from recycled tires is somehow dangerous or harmful to children.
This is NOT true—unless your child is ingesting significant amounts of the infill material.
Artificial grass is actually safer and cleaner than real grass for both children and pets.
The advantages of fake grass regarding safety and cleanliness are numerous:
- Helps to prevent injuries from falls by providing a smooth and even surface to play on
- Keeps mud and dirt to a minimum, which means clean kids and pets
- Allows water and pet urine to flow right through the turf backing
- Antimicrobial additives introduced during the manufacturing process prevent the build-up of bacteria and odors
This combination of features results in artificial grass products that are safer and cleaner for both children and pets.
Safety & Cleanliness of Natural Grass
Everyone loves the feeling of natural grass between their toes, but natural grass has the potential to compromise the safety of children and pets.
Children especially in their blissful ignorance are inclined to run and play without regard for the potential tripping hazards that are often hidden beneath the surface of natural grass.
Dips in the soil or rocks protruding slightly from the ground are examples of two common causes of falls.
Tripping and falling pales in comparison to the biggest risk to your children and pets safety.
The fertilizers and pesticides commonly used on natural grass lawns can be ingested by unsuspecting chiidren and pets.
Natural grass lawns inevitably lead to mud and grass stains, which means more laundry and muddy foot & paw prints being tracked through the house.
Installation Costs of Artificial Grass vs. Natural Grass
There is a significant difference in the installation cost of artificial grass vs. natural grass.
To make the comparison apples-to-apples, we’re going to use a 1,000 sq. ft. lawn and compare the installation cost of artificial grass vs. natural grass.
Installation Costs of Artificial Grass
The biggest difference between the cost of installing an artificial grass lawn and a natural grass lawn is that an artificial grass lawn is largely an upfront cost.
The disparity between the initial installation costs is significant, but I urge you to bear with me until we get to the ongoing care and maintenance costs outlined below.
Artificial grass costs between $6.00 – $20.00 per sq. ft. for installation and materials.
An artificial grass installation does come with a significant upfront cost, it should be thought of as an investment that will pay for itself over time in maintenance and watering costs.
The break-even point between an artificial grass installation and a natural grass one is usually between 4 and 6 years.
Below is a list of the factors that influence the cost of installing artificial grass:
- Size of the Project [Sq. Ft.]
- Turf Product or Type of Artificial Grass
- Pre-Installation Site Prep Required
- Type of Infill Material Used
- Linear Feet of Bender Board [if used]
- Drainage Membrane in Sq. Ft. [If Used]
- Any Special Requests
For a quality artificial grass installation, you should expect to pay between $8 – $12 per square foot.
That means that for a 1,000 square foot area, the installation cost would start around $8,000 – $12,000.
Installation Costs of Natural Grass
For a natural grass lawn, you pretty much have two choices:
- Install sod
- Plant grass seeds
There are advantages and disadvantages to both, so we’ll cover both options below.
We’re going to include the installation of an irrigation or sprinkler system in each of the examples.
Sod — Laying Sod Installation Cost
Installing sod on the same 1,000 square-foot area, it will cost between $900 and $1,800.
The sprinkler system will cost between $0.46 and $0.79 per square foot.
New sod will need a good inch of water on the day it’s planted, as well as daily ¼-inch waterings for at least two weeks, or until it is well-rooted.
This works out to be around 2,804 gallons of water for a 1,000-square-foot yard, or $10.50.
If you assume middle-of-the-road pricing, the installation costs will look something like this:
$1,350 for sod + $600 for sprinkler system +$10.50 for water = $1,960.50 total
This is a very general estimate.
The total cost of installing sod and a sprinkler system will vary depending on:
- Type of sod you use
- How hot it is when you install
- Whether or not you prep the site and install the sod yourself
- How advanced your sprinkler system is
- Grade of your lawn
Seeding Costs — Growing Natural Grass From Seeds
Planting grass seeds will cost between $0.09 and $0.18 per square foot.
We’ll assume the same $660 irrigation system will be installed.
The first 8-weeks of growing a natural grass lawn from seeds is going to require a lot of watering.
623 gallons of water or rain is equivalent to one inch of water for a 1,000 square foot area.
The total amount of water needed for grass seed germination is about 40 inches of water or 24,920 gallons.
This accounts for the 8 inches of moist soil needed before planting, 4 inches of moist soil immediately after planting, and 2 inches of moist soil twice a day until the seeds sprout.
One inch of water soaks about 6 inches of soil.
Factoring in the cost of water for a single-family customer in Texas, the cost of water based on the usage above will equal about $197 dollars (base fee of $5.38).
To break down the price of planting grass seeds and growing a natural grass lawn, you’re looking at:
$135 for seed + $660 for sprinkler system + $197 for water = $992 total
The above costs include the water to get the seeds to germinate.
While the grass is established, you will also have the ongoing expense of keeping your lawn moist for the remainder of the season.
Care & Maintenance Costs of Artificial Grass vs. Natural Grass [Over 25 Years]
It’s easy to get caught up in the installation cost differences between artificial grass and natural grass and to overlook the cost of ongoing care and maintenance.
Next, we’ll explore the costs associated with caring for and maintaining artificial grass vs. natural grass.
The timeframe we’ll be using for the cost comparison is the 25-year lifetime of artificial grass.
Care & Maintenance Costs of Artificial Grass
Compared to natural grass, artificial grass is practically maintenance-free.
The care and maintenance costs are where you’ll see the return on your investment.
The care and maintenance costs for artificial grass are below, along with a schedule for each task.
Here’s a brief schedule of the care and maintenance requirements of artificial grass, as well as the associated costs.
- Spraying w/ Hose: $6 a month (0.25 inches bi-weekly)
- Power Brushing: $175 (annually)
- Replenishing Infill: $100 minimum (annually)
Maintaining a 1,000 sq. ft. artificial grass lawn will cost you $281 each year.
The total cost over 25 years is $7,025.
Care & Maintenance Costs of Natural Grass
Installing natural grass sod or planting grass seeds is much less expensive than fake grass.
It’s the ongoing requirements of natural grass lawns that are high and continual.
Most lawns require weekly cutting for at least 6 months out of the year, with a few extra, intermittent chores like leaf blowing, edging, and weeding.
Lawn care prices range from $25 to $50 per visit for mowing and edging.
Assuming a price of $35 per visit, mowing and edging alone will cost $840.
Below we’ve outlined the expenses you can expect for a natural grass lawn each year.
This is assuming a 1,000-square-foot lawn, so these numbers are on the low end of the spectrum.
- Mowing/edging – $840 annually ($35 per week for 6 months)
- Spring/fall clean up – $100
- Fertilizing – $80
- Aeration – $70
- Weed abatement – $35
- Sprinkler repair – $180
- Leaf cleanup – $190
- Watering – $567 (623 gallons per week for 1,000 square feet for 6 months)
All this adds up to $2,062 per year.
Using the 25-year lifespan of artificial grass, you’ll spend $51,550 maintaining a natural grass lawn!
Mowing, edging and weeding the lawn yourself will save you some of those expenses, but you’ll also be responsible for the costs of buying, storing, fueling, maintaining, and repairing that equipment.
You’ll also be responsible for the negative environmental impact of that gas-powered equipment.
Artificial Grass vs. Natural Grass: Which Should You Choose for Your Lawn?
If you’re bent on the cool, springy feeling of grass between your toes, nothing will beat natural grass.
But you’ll pay a hefty price in water, money, and maintenance to get it.
If, however, you’re open to the idea of free weekends, more cash in your pocket, and a set-it-and-forget-it landscaping option, artificial grass is the lawn for you.
It’s also a great choice if you’re in a drought-prone area of Texas since synthetic turf stays beautiful and green year-round.
If you’re interested in an artificial grass installation in Arlington, Texas, please contact Arlington Turf Installers today to get your FREE artificial grass design and installation estimate.