Artificial Grass vs. Concrete: When to Use Each

Currently experiencing shipping delays.

Originally posted on January 18, 2021

Artificial grass and concrete are two materials that couldn’t be more different, but they both can be used in similar applications. Both are versatile and have uses for landscaping, surfaces for entertaining, and as sports and athletic surfaces, but there are some instances where one might be preferable to the other. Here, we’ll show you the different ways that artificial turf and concrete can be used for landscaping, and the best and most common applications for both. 

When is turf better than concrete?

Turf has a lot of advantages compared to concrete, but the determining factor is usually a matter of personal preference in regards to appearance and the desired level of padding. There are a number of instances where turf is just as good as, and even better than, concrete.

Turf is Better for a Classic Suburban Lawn

Turf is the obvious choice for traditional landscaping with the natural appearance of a green lawn with a white picket fence. Even if the white picket fence isn’t a part of your vision, turf is still the best natural grass substitute to create your dream lawn, whether it’s more traditional or modern. The durability, versatility, and consistency makes turf easy to use for a variety of creative landscaping. You can choose its pile height (length) and color, including many shades of green and nontraditional colors like blue or purple. It can be placed where natural grass can’t survive, such as:

  • Walkways and places with a lot of foot traffic
  • Vertical surfaces like walls or sculptures
  • In shaded areas and by trees
  • By water features like pools and ponds

It is so versatile, you can even install turf on the roof for a unique appearance as well as energy-efficient insulation. 

turf is a better playing surface than concrete

Turf is a Softer Playing Surface

Most people choose a grass lawn for its soft texture in addition to being attractive. Turf is always the superior choice when you need a lawn that serves as a playing surface for kids, because it is both non-abrasive and shock-absorbent. 

  • Dogs can’t dig it up or turn it yellow
  • Nontoxic and not a choking hazard
  • No more mud or grass stains

Turf is also one of the best choices for activities that involved a lot of running and jumping, and playing sports, such as:

  • Football
  • Soccer
  • Lacrosse
  • Field hockey
  • Volleyball 
  • Baseball

Turf is Great for Patios, Balconies, & Spaces for Entertaining

A turf patio makes a great area to entertain guests. Unlike a concrete balcony or wood deck, turf is a soft surface that is also durable and easy to clean. It’s comfortable enough to walk on with bare feet or to take a seat on the ground, and you don’t have to worry about grass stains, splinters, or bugs on your person. If food or beverage is spilled on it, there’s no need to worry about stains or odors, because cleaning it is as easy as wiping it off with a little soap and water. 

Turf has a number of creative and practical uses. It’s a great surface for lawns, landscaping, and other surfaces where a soft, durable, and easy to clean material that looks like natural grass is the most practical and attractive option. But, sometimes, a harder, smoother, surface like concrete is the more practical landscaping option. 

When is concrete better than turf?

There are many instances where concrete is superior to turf. Setting aside all of the structural uses of concrete, there are many activities and uses where a smooth, hard surface is better. 

A concrete court is a better surface than turf for sports that require a hard surface for a ball to bounce on, like Basketball and Tennis. 

Concrete is typically a better surface for activities with wheels, like skateboarding and roller skating. Wheels can roll on short pile turf, like putting turf, but not as easily as they can roll on concrete. In addition, wheels regularly rolling across turf can wear it down more overt time, and snag and pull on the turf, resulting in tears and damage to the turf. 

However, there can be some surprising ways that turf ends up being just as good, if not better than concrete. It’s true that turf is generally not the best for activities that require a surface for wheels to roll on, but there are exceptions. Putting turf is durable enough to be used for bike courses, though it will wear down faster than if used for putting and foot traffic as intended. Turf also creates a surface that provides a different kind of experience to ride a bike on that provides more traction than concrete. Turf can be just as good as a concrete surface for certain activities, and can end up resulting in fewer injuries. Turf is nonabrasive and shock absorbent, making it a lot more comfortable to fall on that cold, hard concrete. 

Industrial Landscaping

For a more urban approach to landscaping, concrete is better than artificial turf at creating an industrial and minimalist curb appeal. Turf can be used in a way that is modern and minimalist, but the smooth neutral appearance of concrete can be considered is even more minimal and modern. Some homeowners opt for concrete landscaping to use for entertaining and activities because its smooth and level surface is easy to place furniture on and easy to clean in the event of a spill. The idea of a concrete lawn that requires a simple sweeping can be more appealing than a lawn you need to mow, weed, water, and fertilize.

Concrete is also recommended for driveways rather than turf. Turf would be an attractive driveway but it’s just not designed to take the stress of cars and trucks regularly driving on it the way concrete is. However, turf is great for installing next to driveways because it is more durable than grass, and it’s not the end of the world for cars to occasionally drive on it. for a modern, clean look, either one can be a good choice. 

combine turf and concrete for attractive patios

Combine Turf & Concrete for the Best of Both Worlds 

Concrete is level, smooth, clean, and is excellent for entertaining large groups of people outside. Turf is soft underfoot and to sit on, as well as attractive. Both turf and concrete are durable, easy to clean, low-maintenance, and versatile. As different as they are, and with similar applications, they’re combined qualities side-by-side can create an ideal lawn for entertaining, activities with kids and pets, and curb appeal.

Turf can be installed on top of concrete, which ends up being great for indoor sports facilities and gyms, kids’ playgrounds, and pet play areas.

Turf visually pairs wells with a number of other landscaping materials like mulch, rocks, flowers, trees, plants, wood, and concrete. Turf’s and concrete’s versatility give you a lot of options based on conditions the project started in and the desired outcome:

  1. Install turf on an existing paved surface
  2. Pour concrete over a whole area and install turf on top of all or part it
  3. Install turf on part of a surface and pour concrete over the other part 
  4. Keep an existing patch of concrete and install artificial turf next to it

Turf & Concrete are Great for Water Conservation 

One of the benefits of both concrete and artificial turf is that they are excellent choices for lawn replacements for water conservation. They are both easy to clean, using little water beyond the occasional spritz for cleaning and cooling purposes. Both materials can absorb enough to heat to make it uncomfortable to walk on with bare feet, but that is easily remedied by shading them from the sun, or spraying it down with a negligible amount of water.

Turf & Concrete are Low-Maintenance Landscaping

Turf is not only more attractive, durable, and versatile than natural grass, it is also low maintenance. With no watering, mowing, weeding, or fertilizing, turf saves you time and money normally spent on maintaining a natural grass lawn. With the amount of time, money, and work that a maintaining a green lawn, it’s tempting to be done with it and to instead pour concrete over the entire lawn. 

While artificial turf requires slightly more maintenance than concrete in terms of infill maintenance, raking, and overall cleaning, it’s pretty low maintenance compared to the grass lawn. When it comes to repairs, turf can become damaged, but is durable and can be patched many times before being replaced, while concrete can be difficult and expensive to repair and replace. 

Turf & Concrete are Durable Landscaping

Turf is resilient to extreme weather, pet waste, and wear and tear from sports activities, but it can be worn over time and become damaged with improper use and maintenance. Concrete is also extremely durable and easy to clean, but it can also crack and crumble over time. It’s highly resistant to surface friction, but unlike turf concrete can crack when there are changes in the ground temperature. Concrete’s durable hardness is an advantage for structural purposes, but its downside is the inability to expand and contract along with the ground in response to temperature changes like turf can.

Is turf or concrete more cost-effective?

Artificial turf is often the more affordable landscaping option than concrete. Turf alone can typically range from $2-$8 per square foot, and installing a turf lawn can range $4-$20 per square foot including materials and labor. The average turf lawn costs $2,000-$7,000 depending on the type of turf, and the total area covered. 

Concrete can average between $4 and $8 a square foot, depending on how thick it is poured, and the type of concrete used. Concrete landscaping can get expensive fast, especially if you’re getting creative with designs or using high quality concrete.

Surface preparation, labor, and equipment are some of the factors that drive cost up for both turf and concrete, depending on how level or prepared the installation surface is. 

Turf Reigns Landscaping Supreme 

Turf and concrete have a lot in common. They’re both durable materials that are low maintenance and versatile, and both are landscaping alternatives to grass to conserve water. 

As tempting as it is to rid yourself of yard work and pour concrete over the surface, consider installing turf instead. Get in touch with us at Turf Factory Direct, or start browning our products. We have the turf and the resources to make your landscaping dreams come true.