What You Need to Know about Real Grass vs Artificial Grass

So you finally did it. You decided to improve your lawn to make it look more inviting. You’ve got an image in your head. You’ve got something you want to turn into reality. Only one thing left to be decided--will you be using live natural grass or fake turf?


Grass plays a big part in landscaping. Size and impact wise, your turf is the first thing that onlookers will notice, long before they notice any other garden decors. Making a decision depends on a lot of things, things that are most important to you.


So how do you make a decision?


Everything starts with research. The more you learn about the specifics of your choices, the sooner you can take a pick. In this post, we will help you decide by showing the strengths and weaknesses of both live natural grass and fake grass.


Real Grass vs Artificial Grass: Irrigation



Real grass requires regular watering. Depending on the location, it might even require watering in the morning and in the evening. Fake grass, on the other hand, requires occasional watering. To be specific, the only time you have to water fake grass is when you want to clean it. Hosing down the blades for a few seconds is enough to get rid of the dirt.


Real Grass vs Artificial Grass: Safety



With fake grass, you never have to use harmful chemicals. This makes it perfectly safe for you and for any child to play on. This is also why more public play areas are starting to use fake grass. A real lawn is also a safe option as long as it has not been exposed to any kind of health hazards or toxins.


Real Grass vs Artificial Grass: Mowing



There’s nothing like the smell of freshly mowed lawn in the morning. That is an undeniable advantage that natural grass has over fake ones. In fact, fake grass companies are trying to reproduce this scent to be spritzed on fake turf. But as much as this smell is highly adored by many, the process that leads to it does more harm to the environment than people actually think. According to a Swedish study, an hour of running a lawnmower gives out nearly the same amount of pollution into the air as a 100-mile car trip


Real Grass vs Artificial Grass: Maintenance

Both natural and fake lawn needs regular maintenance. The main difference is how often you need to do so. Natural grass requires a huge amount of water to get rid of dust or mud or other debris that sticks to the leaves.


Real Grass vs Artificial Grass: Environmental Impact

Environmental Impact


The impact fake grass or natural grass fields have on the environment is important. After all, the environment is essential for our quality of life. Both types of grass can hurt and help in their own ways.


Fake grass is great because of the amount of water it saves. Water is one of the most basic natural resources we have. Saving as much of it as possible is vital. The cons of fake grass are the creation of pollution through manufacturing and the fact that it isn’t always biodegradable.


Natural grass benefits our environment because it is a living thing. Real grass contributes to the ecosystem by supplying oxygen, filtering pollution, and absorbing heat. With these benefits, natural grass has some drawbacks as well. Real grass is often sprayed with pesticides that move with the runoff water and dirties water systems.


Real Grass vs Artificial Grass: Installation Cost

For the costs of both grass types, the yard size will reflect a 1,000 square foot lawn.


Note: Water costs and amount of water needed will vary based on the place and the species of grass you choose.


Cost for Fake Grass


The installation of a fake turf lawn has many factors that contribute to the final cost. This includes materials, fees, labor, overhead, and profit. The type of grass, company, and quality of labor has a major impact on the overall cost. A 1,000 square foot area would take about two to three days for a complete installation.


Pricing by square foot starts around $9 for a quality installation. Assuming a grass lawn of 1,000 square feet, the installation cost will be roughly $9,000.


Cost for Natural Grass


There are two options for having a natural grass lawn – through sodding or seeding. Since sodding is pre-grown, it has a higher cost, compared to having to plant the seeds and nurturing the lawn yourself.


For both sod and seed lawn installation, a lawn irrigation system will be needed. The average cost of a sprinkler system is $2 per square foot, which will be $2,000 for 1,000 square feet of grass.


Pricing by the square foot for installing sod starts at $3.50 with a professional installer, which includes everything from removal of the current lawn to the disposal of debris. With a lawn size of 1,000 square feet, the sod installation will cost $3,500.


The total installation cost for installing sod with a sprinkler system will cost $5,500.


For a more affordable alternative for natural grass, seeding will cost about $0.05 per square foot when installed by yourself, or $50 for a 1,000 square foot area. Because only the seeds are being planted, the cost of installing a natural grass lawn will include thorough watering for the first eight weeks.


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 San Diego, the cost of water based on the usage above will equal about $290 dollars (base fee of $24.74). This is exclusive to just watering the lawn. So depending on other water usages (i.e. showers, dishwashing, etc.), the cost of water can increase by 40%.


In total, growing grass from seeds to germination for a 1,000 square foot natural grass lawn with a sprinkler system will cost $2,340.


Real Grass vs Artificial Grass: Care and Maintenance Costs

Care and Maintenance Costs


Considering the lifespan of a fake grass lawn is 25 years, we will use that as the time frame for care and maintenance costs.


Cost for Fake Grass Care


The beauty of owning a fake grass lawn is the minimal care required. Care and maintenance include watering, brushing, and using odor control. Because there is little care required, the costs below will not factor in any labor.


Watering the lawn will help remove any dust or pollen that settles on top of the fake lawn. This can be done once a month and only needs a quick hose down, maybe about a quarter of an inch of water each rinse. For a 25 year span, we will assume a cost of $300 for hosing the 1,000 fake turf area down based on current San Diego water rates.


Brushing the fake turf helps restore the look of the lawn by fluffing up the fibers that are flat in high traffic areas. A brush will set you back about $40.


If you have pets, odor control should be used when rinsing the lawn every other month. A product such as Urea “Z” covers 2,500 square feet for every gallon. Costing $100 a gallon, the total cost for 25 years will be $6,000.


The sum of all the care and maintenance costs for fake grass equal $6,340, for homeowners with a pet. For those without a pet, the care and maintenance costs are about $340.


Cost for Natural Grass Care


Maintenance and care that go into a natural grass lawn involve--mowing, edging, aeration, overseeding, fertilizing, weed control, and watering. Costs can be lowered if the equipment is purchased and tasks are completed by yourself. The costs below will factor in labor due to the amount of effort a natural grass lawn depends on.


For someone to mow, edge, and dispose of clippings for your natural grass lawn, you will be looking to pay at least $30 each visit. Depending on the climate, you should expect around two visits a month, which comes out to $720 a year. With the 25-year time frame in mind, total lawn mowing and edging will cost $18,000.


Aeration and overseeding are important to a natural grass lawn. Aeration allows air, water, and nutrients to penetrate the grassroots. Overseeding is for filling in bare spots and improving the lawn density. Both of these cost about $50 per 1,000 square feet and need to be done twice a year. The entire cost for aeration and overseeding will be $2,500 for 25 years.


Fertilizers keep weeds away and feed the grass. Fertilizing and weed control should be done about once every quarter or four times a year. The schedule for when this should be done for your lawn will depend on the grass type and climate. An average application will cost $60, or a total of $6,000 for 25 years.


Using the values above, we can find out how much water will be needed in 25 years. Since the water usage will be decreased due to the established grass, water costs per hundred cubic feet (HCF) or water rates will be less. Established grass needs about one to two inches of water per week. The total will be 1,950 inches or 1,214,850 Gallons of water for 25 years, costing a total of about $9,000 assuming the cost of water doesn’t change in San Diego.


Adding all the maintenance costs of a natural grass lawn, assuming that labor will not be done ourselves, we come to a total cost of $35,500. Again, the cost can be lowered if a lawn mower, lawn aerator, and other tools are purchased and the labor is conducted on your own.


Which Type of Lawn Should You Choose?

Which Type of Lawn Should You Choose?


We have shared the many benefits of natural grass and fake turf as well as the different costs that go into each. There are variables that can’t be accounted for since dwellers come from different climates and may use the lawn for different reasons. From the comparison above, the cost of natural grass over time ends up being the more costly option.


The upfront cost of fake turf will equal the amount paid for the installation and maintenance of a natural grass lawn in three to five years. Despite the high upfront costs of installing fake grass, you will end up saving your money and your local water supplies in the long run.


So which is the better option? Data wise, it’s artificial grass. But again, the decision is up to you. In the end, you get to decide which one fits your lifestyle and needs. Still not convinced? Visit megagrass.com for more information on the benefits of artificial grass over natural ones.