The Disadvantages of Artificial Grass

The disadvantages of artificial grass make the idea of switching to a synthetic lawn a deal breaker for some home and business owners. It's an unfortunate fact but everything has downsides, except when you're talking about pie and ice cream. As great as synthetic grass is there are a few things that you might find problematic enough to steer you away but we'll let you decide for yourself. 

disadvantages of artificial grass

If you are reading this article because you are curious about artificial grass or cautious because you have heard something negative, you're in the right place. We are going to break down every reason you might want to think twice before installing an artificial grass lawn at your home or enhancing your business landscaping. Our goal is to educate you about the bad and the benefits of artificial grass so you aren't surprised by anything along the way.


5 Disadvantages of Artificial Grass

We are going to start by looking at 5 disadvantages of artificial grass. While some might find these a deterrent some may find them minor nuisances that can be lived with in light of all the benefits. In any event it's great to know the limitations and downsides of artificial grass going into it so you know what to expect. 


Cost

The upfront cost of artificial grass is hands down the biggest downside of upgrading to synthetic grass. It's not just the cost of the grass itself that ranges between $5 and $9 per square foot, it's the other costs associated with installing artificial grass. The removal of an existing natural lawn, site preparation and installation all require a substantial amount of labour, and cost. When you add the cost of materials like infill, glue, cloth and nails you can expect to pay at least $10 to $15 per square foot for a new artificial grass lawn. An average 500 square foot lawn will cost $5,000 to $7,500 to install. 


Not Natural

The fact that artificial grass just isn't natural is first on the list of disadvantages of artificial grass for some people. A healthy natural green lawn is an emotional thing and even provides a sense of pride for some homeowners. In Canada and specifically the Okanagan, a lush growing lawn can even be looked at as a status symbol. It takes a lot of money, time and effort to keep a lawn green in the Okanagan summer. The psychological effect of removing a natural lawn and replacing it with something artificial is a very hard concept for some home owners and if you actually like mowing your natural lawn you will find this even harder. 


Upkeep

While this might not warrant being on the list of disadvantages of artificial grass it's nice to know with all the misinformation out there. Artificial grass is not maintenance free and does require a bit of work to keep it looking good year after year. Regular artificial grass maintenance will also ensure that it lasts 20-25 years which means you'll be enjoying low maintenance for a long time. Just like changing the oil in your car, regular upkeep will protect your investment and prevent costly repairs or replacement in the future. 

You won't need to water, mow, rake, trim, thatch or fertilize your new artificial grass lawn but you will need to broom or blow leaves and other debris off of it to keep it clean. We also recommend hiring a professional artificial grass maintenance service for a once a year service that will bloom the grass blades and help extend the life of the grass. If you have children or pets we also suggest incorporating a cleaning routine that includes an enzyme cleaner that kills bacteria that can end up on your lawn from blood, sweat, urine and feces. 


Retains Heat

Artificial grass retains more heat than natural grass and that is a fact. Natural grass holds moisture and in turn stays cooler to the touch than synthetic grass. This is especially noticeable in the hot summer months when artificial grass receives direct sunlight throughout the day. It's one of the most frustrating disadvantages of artificial grass for anyone that has children and pets that find it too hot to walk on midday. 

There are some solutions that can be put into place if it's addressed early on before the installation process. You can choose a lighter coloured artificial grass that won't absorb as much heat. A white or light coloured silica sand infill will help repel solar heat energy from direct sunlight. We recommend using permanent or temporary shade structures like umbrellas, sails or pergolas that will largely keep the grass cool even on the hottest summer days. The easiest way to quickly cool artificial grass is to give it a light spray with water from a garden hose or sprinkler. 


Looks Fake

Our list of disadvantages of artificial grass wouldn't be complete without taking a look at the appearance of synthetic lawns. There is no question that some artificial grass looks fake and the blades resemble the needles of an 1980's fake Christmas tree. Luckily this trend has passed and the artificial grass products manufactured today actually look like real grass and some are so real you might not even know it's fake until you get up close. 


Artificial Grass Frequently Asked Questions

Now that we've gone over the disadvantages of artificial grass it's time to go over some commonly asked questions. We've put together a list of questions we get asked by prospective and current customers with answers that might surprise you. If you are new to the idea of synthetic grass or slightly resistant to the idea of removing something natural and replacing it with plastic you might find the following questions and answers informative. 

How long does artificial grass last?

Quality artificial grass will last 20 years or longer. You can expect several years of very low maintenance and high performance when you upgrade to synthetic grass whether it's in your front yard landscaping, backyard play area or pool surround. 

Is artificial grass recyclable and eco-friendly?

Yes. Artificial grass is 100% recyclable and programs are already in place in areas where artificial grass has been around for several years. The highest quality grasses use plant-based materials to reduce the amount of petroleum based products used during the manufacturing process. The leading artificial grass manufacturers in the world have addressed what used to be one of the biggest disadvantages of artificial grass and started using natural, eco-friendly materials and processes. 

Is artificial grass safe?

Artificial grass is designed with safety in mind and is completely safe for everyone using it including children and pets. The quality standards of synthetic turf today make it effectively safer than natural grass. Children and pets won't be exposed to the potentially harmful pesticides, fertilizers and other toxic chemicals used in the maintenance of natural grass.  

Does artificial grass fade in the sun?

Artificial grass won't fade in the sun even after several years of direct sunlight. The manufacturing process of quality artificial grass products includes a treatment that provides UV stabilization with the sole purpose of preventing colour fading. In the past this was one of the biggest disadvantages of artificial grass but todays products simply won't fade. 

Is artificial grass worth the money?

Artificial grass requires a substantial initial investment. It's estimated that a home owner that upgrades to artificial grass will recoup the amount spent on installing artificial grass in as little as 5 to 10 years. Every year a home owner can expect to save money on water, lawn maintenance equipment and lawn maintenance costs.

Is artificial grass slippery when wet?

Artificial grass may become slightly slippery when it gets wet but a lot less slippery than natural grass. The added benefit of artificial grass is that it doesn't stay wet for long after it stops raining, the sprinklers shut off or pool water is splashed onto it. You also won't get puddles that can eventually lead to muddy or wet areas that children seem to find and track into the house. This excellent drainage and fast-drying quality makes artificial grass ideal for playgrounds and daycares

Why is sand added to artificial grass?

Sand is used as an artificial grass infill material for a few important reasons. Sand supports the grass fibres by keeping them standing up straighter making them more resistant to premature wear. A sand infill also weighs a lot and keeps the grass flat and flush with the sub layer underneath, helping prevent ripples. The proper amount of infill will not be visible if it's brushed into the thatch layer properly. 

What is under artificial turf?

Artificial turf is designed to appear like natural grass. At the base of the grass blades you will find a layer of infill that is either sand or rubber crumbs. Sand is most commonly used in residential applications and rubber crumbs are used in sports applications. Under the turf backing you will find a layer that includes a mixture of sand and rock that provides a sturdy base while allowing water to drain at a high rate.  

Do you have to water artificial grass?

You definitely won't have to water artificial grass anywhere near as much as natural grass requires. A quick spray with a garden hose is a great way to cool artificial grass off almost instantly and is a great way to rinse urine through the turf in areas frequented by dogs or pets. 

We hope you found this article about the disadvantages of artificial grass informative. One of our goals is to educate every Canadian about the benefits and that includes a few things that might be considered downsides or negatives. We believe artificial grass is a smart choice that benefits the environment, helps conserve valuable water and makes sense from a sustainability point of view. 


Duralawn