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Have you been tempted by this artificial grass craze?

Fake grass

Thinking of swapping your grass for the synthetic kind in a bid to get your lawn looking green and immaculate? Or do you think these gardens are gaudy and unnatural?

My garden can be a lot of work: planting, pruning, weeding and feeding to keep it looking decent through summer. The thing that I feel I spend most time on, and is least rewarding, is my lawn. But recently I’ve had my eyes opened to the fuss-free joys of (whisper it) artificial grass.

Artificial grass trend

When visiting a National Gardens Scheme garden I stepped out on the lawn I realised that the colour was just a little too uniform for it to be real. But it looked good. It complimented the bold planting. Considering how many hundreds of feet must have pounded across it before me, it didn’t show any signs of wear.

The owner of the garden told me that she’d struggled with the patch of grass – it was always in shade so was either muddy or mossy. She’d thought that the only solutions was to remove it completely, but didn’t want to pave her garden.

Since then I’ve seen artificial grass used at a National Trust property and it was amazingly realistic. There were brown strands woven through and an irregular length; just enough to give the illusion of real grass.

It would seem that those who have it in their garden rave about it. Although it can be a little pricey to install, I hear that it’s brilliant if you’ve got dogs, great if you get hayfever and it’s wonderful if you have kids who like to play football.

And for those with patchy lawns it can be put in next to real grass, so if you’ve got a problem area then you can just tackle that bit.

But while artificial grass offers a fuss-free alternative for your garden, I’m aware that it’s not the best for the environment. It’s plastic after all, and so doesn’t provide any natural food or habitats for wildlife that you get with grass. So if you enjoy welcoming wildlife and spotting the odd Robin hunting for worms into your garden, then artificial grass is probably not the product for you.

Turf war

But all in all I have to say I’m tempted. No more hard, brown, dry lawn in the summer or a mossy lawn covered in weeds the rest of the year. And let’s face it, no more endless hours of mowing.

So where do you stand on artificial grass? Have you been tempted by this synthetic lawn trend? Do you lust over an immaculate garden, or do you prefer to keep yours natural?

Would you install artificial grass?

No, never (40%, 709 Votes)

Maybe, it depends on the situation (33%, 591 Votes)

Yes, I would (22%, 380 Votes)

Not sure (5%, 85 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,765

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The British obsession with a perfect lawn is amusing. I’m always reminded of Asterix in Britain, where we see a Briton “manicuring” his lawn with a tiny sickle, and later stopping Roman trespassers, saying, “my garden is smaller than your Rome, but my pilum is bigger than your sternum”. Classic.

Pros and cons. If the artificial lawn lets water through (does it?), it’s better than monoblocking. And it saves energy as it doesn’t need any mowing or watering. But yes, it’s made of plastic and is of no interest to wildlife that I can think of.

Time to accept that if you feel you must have a lawn, it will be a living, evolving thing? Brown and hard in the summer, so what, and I would bet that more kids in the world play football in fields of dirt than not. And what on earth is wrong with a mossy lawn covered in “weeds”? A perfect lawn is a green desert to wildlife.

But what if you physically can’t mow your lawn/meadow anymore? I know of an old lady who had an artifical lawn put down because of that. Not an easy issue.

I would not replace my real lawn with artificial grass, but I have used it in 2 places.
Under bird feeders just becomes a mud patch with all the birds and squirrels, plus my wife topping up the feeders. So a small (1sqM) patch seems t do the trick, but it does stand out from the real grass around it. So far it less water through with issues, but is odd to walk on. That’s probably a bad install by me.
The other place is a small decked area (2-3sqM) with a bench seat on it. This had old decking but it just rotted away. So some OSB boards and artificial grass on top looks much much better. It’s the same grass as above but as distinct from the lawn it does not standout as different. It’s also nice to sit on the bench with bare feet in the “grass”.
I think these days the artificial grass is much better than it was (varying lengths, brown strands, right shades), so it’s worth considering for the right location.

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See The State of Nature Report, (http://www.rspb.org.uk/Images/stateofnature_tcm9-345839.pdf) headline findings, ” We have quantitative assessments of the population or distribution trends of 3,148 species. Of these, 60% of species have declined over the last 50 years and 31% have declined strongly.” Butterfly Conservation say, “The new analyses provide further evidence of the serious, long-term and ongoing decline of UK butterflies, with 70% of species declining in occurrence (based on the BNM distribution data) and 57% declining in abundance (based on the UKBMS) since 1976.” Even grass is home to many creatures important because they are at the bottom of the food chain. Couple this with the effects on the environment of plastic and run off and it all adds to global warming, pollution and biodiversity in decline. DON’T DO IT.

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Artificial lawns seem to be the new decking. The material is being heavily advertised and I see more and more examples. Our neighbours on one side have laid panels of artificial grass on their front garden. It looks a bit like a badly-laid carpet where the weft has been laid against the direction of adjacent pieces; also the joins are very noticeable. On the other side the neighbours have dug up all the grass on their frontage and put down an expanse of glaring white chippings which draw attention to the several inspection chamber covers that adorn their front garden . The problem where we live is that the underlying soil is very poor being former heath and scrub [broom and gorse] mixed with woodland [Scots pine]. The developers ‘complimentary’ turf was not of the best quality by a long way and after three years in a very dry climate it does not look good with lots of wild flowers and weeds breaking through everywhere. Nevertheless, I persist in trying to maintain a decent lawn at the front with treatment and feeding, and I am reasonably satisfied with the results although it does not have the gleaming appearance of the stone chippings on the right nor the even colour and texture of the unnatural carpeting on the left. I have managed to keep Mr Mole at bay as well although he and I did meet on one occasion. The lawn at the rear of the house is in much better condition because I prepared the substrate thoroughly myself and had a good grade of turf laid professionally, but there are now signs of weed incursion which is the land’s attempt to revert to its natural state.

Do you need an artificial lawn-mower to keep it trim? 🙂

Good thinking!

I’m not sure, Ian – I haven’t noticed any routine maintenance of the neighbours’ artificial grass and reckon it must be getting clogged with dirt and debris – perhaps a powerful vacuum cleaner is all that is required.

The next development will probably be living carpets in our houses. Just unroll and water. Imagine stepping out of bed onto a flowering meadowland, surrounded by camomile in the lounge………..

Many years ago, when Hong Kong started exporting polythene flowers, our next door neighbour surrounded his back and front “lawns” with these everlasting plastic blooms in hollow concrete blocks. I say “lawns” because he had concreted over where the grass had been and then painted the surface green. Clearly he had great foresight.

Our current neighbour has covered his large front “garden” in pink tarmac, but as a concession one corner is a quarter circle of artificial grass. I always feel guilty when I cut my real hedge and bits drop on the astroturf – feel I should get my Hoover out and clean up. However, he has a play area for children at the bottom of his garden also covered in artificial turf, and that has some sense to it.

With all the silly “garden” features we see at Chelsea I think artificial turf is the least of our worries. A step up from covering decent natural ground in pavers, concrete slabs, decking, gravel, conservatories, and anything else that is unnatural and does not drain (except gravel).

Personally I like a natural green area of clover, moss and grass that makes stripes when I mow; that’s my lawn. Each to his own – a garden is supposed to be an outside room and we all have different tastes.

For me Tom Jones with his rendition of The Green Green Grass of Home says it all. Just to reminisce once again log onto YouTube.com – Tom Jones – The Green Green Grass of Home.

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Duncan I was never a fan of TJ either. I was referring to the content of the song in relation to the topic. Maybe you would prefer the Joan Baez version!

The “green green grass of home” is a totally artificial creation that came about when this country was deforested to make way for agriculture and grazing. I remember it well.

To just buy artificial grass for one of my lawns, without “fitting”, would cost between £4500 and £9000. That’s an awful lot of visits from a man with a lawnmower to save me cutting a proper lawn, if I cannot do it myself.

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I pay someone to cut my grass every two weeks but tend the rest of the garden myself. One thing that artificial grass cannot replicate is the heady aroma of freshly mown grass on a summers afternoon. Heaven!

I’ve often wondered why we seem to listen to the views of singers, actors and other personalities. Do they somehow have a greater knowledge and insight than the rest of us?

I’ve never thought artificial flowers worth having over nature’s own. Sentimentality perhaps. Watching the Billion pound flower market last night shows just how we buy more and more cut flowers, and the resources going into their production – particularly in Holland and Kenya. A puritanical approach might be to question whether the effort might be better devoted to food production, particularly in Africa. But life isn’t like that. Flowers bring a lot of pleasure and consume (in a limited way) CO2 to good effect. i wonder how much real grass benefits CO2? Sprinkling a small bag of grass seed on your earth seems far preferable to producing green plastic in a factory.

And its help with the compost heap, Beryl.

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I don’t mind artistes expressing feelings through the medium of their art form [even if the lyrics or scripts are written for them], but, as Malcolm queries, I don’t see why people hang on their words so much when not in performing mode. I for one do not accept that “they somehow have a greater knowledge and insight than the rest of us”, and certainly no more than philosophers, politicians and political commentators, scientists, authors and other people who think. I should like to hear more from such people but they never get a look-in with our celebrity-obsessed society.

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I, for one, would be very interested to hear of any US professor jailed in the US, simply for ‘speaking out, Duncan.

I don’t know what perceptions of American attitudes have to do with the simple point that Malcolm made about life in the UK and on which I elaborated in the light of Duncan’s immediately following comment. I should never have digressed.

I think we have veered off topic but to add perspective to your questions about celebrities, log onto psychology today.com – The other side of fame. This portrays some insight into reasons why the grass is not always greener on the other side.


Perhaps we need as a society to concentrate more on those who have been or are useful. I have always thought the second house of Parliament should be staffed with the elected of the various Royal, and other societies. Just sending more politicians there is a complete travesty.

: ) And to cement the unelected principle let us select 50 people annually randomly to daily attend and even speak. If they are very good the H O L can elect them permanent.

The relevance to the thread of celebrity is I think some politicians are equally addicted to power and wheeling dealing, and limelight.

My grass cuttings end up in the brown bin for which I pay the local council £37 per annum and pay the local garden centre again when buying compost to repot or top up the plant pots!

Gardening is BB nowadays but keeps you active and fit and the rewards are very evident and pleasing, so let’s confine the plastic stuff to the stands of large exhibition and show centres.

I always felt that the grass was always greener on the other side

This reminds me of the story about when a person of a particular nationality saw a lorry carrying load of rolls of turf, and remarked at how rich the person must be to be able to send his lawn away to be cut.

steve says:
9 September 2016

Its about convenience again and commercial enterprises jumping on the bandwagon.
Unkempt grass is better in my opinion. Plastic is the bane of our lives. Is the plastic and the backing biodegradable, (I somehow think NOT), and if it is how long does it take to degrade?
I have heard that the plastic grass needs maintenance. Where does all the dust and dirt in the air go? Well trapped in the “lawn” of course and after a fairly short period of time, seedlings will no doubt take advantage of this and start to grow.
So, I would question that in the longer term you will be left with this weed strewn toxic plastic to get rid of.
Please, think twice and only in extreme circumstances use this type of product.

steve, I suspect biodegradable plastic grass is in the same league as chocolate teapots.

I don’t think there can be an absolute rule about this, it really does depend on the application. I’m on heavy, clay soil and an area of lawn approximately 16m2 under a spreading (Medlar) tree to the North of a Garage wall has finally given up the struggle. I’ve tried to improve drainage, and I’ve tried different varieties of grass to no avail. I want to keep the tree and I don’t want stone or bark on the ground, which seem to be the only real alternatives. I think artificial turf, for all is lack of ‘green’ credentials is a solution in this limited area, hence the reason I am at this website looking for information. I also think the £250 or so that the turf will cost is acceptable and in line with other expenditures I make maintaining my garden, (fences etc.). The ground preparation I will do myself. If anyone else has solved this sort of problem in another way, I’d be more than happy to consider practical solutions.

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Brendan Challies says:
21 February 2017

Artificial Grass has definitely come a long way over the past few years and is looking far more natural than you may remember it to be.

Installed correctly artificial grass drains away faster and more evenly than natural grass.
The quality of grasses available can vary greatly depending on pile height, stitches per m2, stitch pattern, blade shape and thickness. As Adelaide mentioned the brown tuffs in the grass definitely bring a new shade of realism to the products and there are all manner of shades and styles to choose from.

As a Which? Trusted trader we take our brand and the products we supply, very seriously, and look to set the industry standard for best practice and products in the market. Don’t be shy if you have any questions.

[Sorry Brendan, your comment has been edited to align with our Community Guidelines as we don’t allow promotional content and links to be posted here. Thanks, mods]