Turf Showdown: Natural vs. Artificial Grass

The match of the century has arrived—artificial grass vs. natural grass.

To the uninitiated, natural grass might sound like the right choice, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Artificial turf and grass not only successfully simulate the feeling and appearance of grass, they often outperform it in appearance, comfort, durability, and longevity.

Still skeptical? Well, don’t worry. We’ll walk you through it.

What is Turf Anyway?

Turf is essentially imitation grass. It not only is a satisfactory resemblance of natural grass, but it outshines it with its consistency. Like natural grass, there are different varieties that have different designs and uses. Its manufacturing process is similar to that of carpet—yarn is woven through a perforated backing, trimmed, and thatched, to resemble grass.

Turf that is used for landscaping typically features long pile, thatching, and offers an appearance that resembles natural grass. Because of this, it usually is more attractive, and has a soft and lush feel. It may be slightly less durable in terms of pedestrian traffic, but can withstand conditions that are expected for a landscaped lawn.

Turf that is used on sports fields, in stadiums, indoors, on golf courses, or for pets. Usually, this stuff has a rougher surface texture and is less plush. The surface can be harder, but usually offers more traction, and the hardness can be compensated for. Artificial grass used for sports is especially durable since it needs to stand up to the frequent wear and tear of cleats chasing after a ball.

Hybrid turf often refers to a happy medium between the two– combining a natural grass appearance and durability. It’s common in residential lawns and is excellent for use in landscaping due to its resilience to foot traffic, kids, pets, and activities.

The backing and materials used in artificial turf are typically perforated or woven to ensure maximum drainage. The materials used also affect drainage and durability. Latex is more flexible and can handle stress a little better than polyurethane, while felt is the least durable.

How Does it Compare to Natural Grass?

Let’s get into a blow-by-blow comparison, so you can see the significant differences between natural and artificial grass.

Texture

Natural grass and artificial grass often have similar enough textures where most people can’t even tell the difference. Artificial turf has the same appearance as natural grass when you look at the individual blades, and it offers the same soft, stiff texture that you can expect from natural grass as well. That said, it’s hard to get that natural wet feel on artificial turf, though you can avoid the annoyance mud brings.

Color

Here’s where it can get a little weird. Artificial turf includes multiple colors that can simulate the inconsistencies that are found in natural grass, but also offers enough consistency that most people just see a lush verdant spread of green grass.

Additionally, the variable color options that are offered by artificial turf allow you to customize your lawn to look however you want. Want a blue yard? No problem, artificial turf can make it happen.

Padding & Comfort

Depending on where it’s growing, natural grass can be as soft or hard as the packed earth beneath it. On the other hand, artificial turf has the amount of padding that its installer desires. Many indoor facilities have rubber flooring installed beneath turf to give users an extra bounce in their step. Some padding also doubles at drainage, like interlocking tiles, which are great for outdoor concrete surfaces. Depending on how shock absorbent you need it to be, and where it is located, artificial turf provides a comfortable surface that can’t be beat by natural grass.

Traction

Artificial turf can be customized to mimic both the appearance and the feeling of natural grass. It can offer even more traction and consistency than natural grass as a result of being a manufactured product. Turf also has the advantage of being mud-free, so no slipping and sliding in wet spots.

Maintenance Costs

Artificial turf is low cost and requires less maintenance than traditional turf. You never need to weed, mow, or water it,  and it’s cleaned easily by weekly rinsing and raking. That means you can save water, and reduce the damage to the surrounding environs from chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizer.

It’s more durable too, which reduces the overall costs. You won’t ever have dead spots, and pests won’t be able to dig up the yard. Whether you’re experiencing drought or not, your turf will look the same, and thus far, there are no diseases that affect artificial turf.

Versatility

Because artificial grass doesn’t require specific conditions for survival means that you can use it just about anywhere for a variety of purposes. Here are just a few to consider:

  • Vertical surfaces
  • By water features
  • In high-traffic areas
  • In the shade
  • Indoors
  • Pet-friendly environments
  • Sports
  • Landscaping

Any Downsides to Artificial Turf?

We’d be lying if we told you there were zero downsides to owning artificial grass. But, there aren’t that many, and they aren’t that bad.

Artificial grass, unlike natural grass, doesn’t contribute to the natural cooling of an area. So, if you’re living in a spot that gets a lot of sun and heat, the turf can become hotter than a normal lawn. However, this deficit is made up for by the fact that turf saves thousands of gallons of water per year–a small price to pay for big environmental and money savings.

Some people are concerned about the safety of the various infills that are used with artificial turf, and whether or not they pose a negative health risk. Crumb rubber has raised concerns in regards to its use as a turf infill, but there are many different types of infills that more than mitigate any potential health risks that folks might be worried about.

There are cons, of course, but overall the benefits outweigh the negatives. Artificial turf is a fantastic option for a beautiful lawn or playing surface for indoor and outdoor sports. Our experts are here to help you make the best choice for your needs, whether it’s attractive landscaping, a pet-friendly lawn, or a soccer field. Browse our products today!

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