Artificial Grass vs Instant Lawn

More people are starting to consider artificial grass over the natural instant lawn. Is it worth the change?

Artificial Grass vs Instant Lawn

Some argue that with the artificial grass, they can help the environment by using significantly less water to maintain it. In addition to water conservation, people choose artificial over instant lawn because of the low maintenance of the former.

A few decades ago, people only used artificial grass in favour of natural instant lawn, mostly for sports and commercial purposes. Back then, we will only see artificial grass in sports fields or business areas. But in recent years, artificial grass has grown in popularity among private homeowners.

Read on to look at some of the different pros and cons between artificial grass and instant lawn.

Cost

Cost is something most people highly consider, and rightly so.

Artificial grass, without the cost for installation, could go from $30 to $180 per metre. You can get something for a lower price, and most likely a cheaper quality.

Instant lawn costs about $7 to $20 per metre of turf, depending on the type. This is just the turf, excluding the cost of installation and other materials needed.

If you want to get the full service, materials and labour, here is where you can see the difference. Be ready to spend at least $56 up to $300 per square metre for artificial grass, and at least $42 up to $65 for an instant lawn. 

The argument in favour of paying more for an artificial lawn, in this case, is that artificial lawns are built to last for up to 10 years, and maybe even more. That is one advantage of paying a high cost for synthetic grass, but there are also a lot of other factors to consider.

Artificial Grass rolls

Time frame for installation

Provided that the area has been prepared and the only thing left is to install the lawn, artificial grass takes about three days to be installed on a 100-sq metre area. Instant lawn, on the other hand, can be installed within one day for the same area.

Instant Lawn Being Installed

Maintenance

Maintenance is another crucial factor that homeowners consider when deciding to either put instant lawn or artificial lawn. Some choose artificial grass over the natural instant lawn, mainly because of the maintenance effort and cost they think they are saving.

Artificial Grass in Backyard

Artificial Grass

People are mistaken to believe that artificial grass requires little to no maintenance. If you want to make your artificial grass last for a long time, you will need to do regular maintenance on it as well.

You still need to clean and brush the lawn regularly, especially if it is often used. You need to clean the debris that accumulates in between the blades, by manually raking it, or you may need to rent a power rake if your yard is too big.

You will still have to weed your artificial lawn. If the soil preparation is not done correctly, or if your artificial grass has been installed for a while, then weeds could pop right up through the gaps in the turf.

After some time, depending on how much traffic goes on the artificial grass, or even just over time, you will need to brush your turf to fluff it up. The blades do “wilt” so you will need to use a rake or cleaning brush to push those blades up.

Artificial turf usually does not require watering if the weather is cool enough or if it had been raining. However, if you have pets, you will need to clean and wash the artificial turf once a week or every two weeks using detergent or cleaners that would remove the pet waste odour from the grass.

You may also need to water if the weather is too hot. According to studies, artificial grass could reach temperatures higher than the ambient or natural turf temperature. The surface temperature of artificial grass is discussed in more detail, on the environmental impact section.

Artificial Grass Roll on Ground

Instant Lawn

The instant lawn needs constant regular mowing and watering and upkeeping such as raking off leaves and other debris, annual fertilisation, occasional dethatching, and soil aeration. Fertilisation, dethatching, and aeration are usually done at least once a year, or as often as it is necessary.

Watering is done at least a few times a week, depending on the weather; less if it has been raining. Mowing depends on the type of grass, whether it is the growing or dormant season, or depending on the owner’s preference.

If you have pets, you do not need to worry about the smell of the urine they left behind, because the natural grass and soil have bacteria and enzymes that will decompose it and naturally remove the odour.

Instant Lawn

Environmental Impact

Before making that important decision in choosing the type of lawn to apply, take a look at some of the environmental considerations between artificial grass and instant lawn.

Water Conservation

Environmental awareness and water restrictions make well-meaning people choose artificial grass over the natural like a seeded or instant lawn. They want artificial turf because of the perception that artificial grass does not require water. This is a misconception.

Although it does not need as much water compared with an instant lawn, artificial grass still needs water to clean, and more so on scorching weather to help bring down its surface temperature.

Natural grass like an instant lawn, on the other hand, only need to be watered every day, several times a day for the first few weeks until it is established. After that, sometimes the grass can survive with as little as twice a week of watering, and even less if it has been raining.

Contribution to the Environment

Artificial Grass

A downside to installing artificial grass is that it has no contribution to the natural environment and wild creatures.Not only that it does not contribute to the environment, artificial grass negatively affects the wildlife and the natural vegetation such as nearby plants and trees.1

Artificial grass could also contribute to the risk of flooding because it does not absorb snowmelt or rainfall. The negative impact of artificial grass to the environment outweighs its benefits in terms of water conservation.

Instant Lawn

In contrast, natural grass such as instant lawn can contribute so much to the natural ecology of the surroundings.1 An instant lawn could support insects and birds, and other wildlife.

Natural grass also helps keep the air fresh and clean. A lawn of about 230 square metres can produce enough oxygen equivalent to the need of about four people.2

Surface Temperature of Artificial Grass and Instant Lawn

One thing that a lot of people fail to consider when choosing the grass for their lawn is the surface temperature. If you have children and pets, or if you use your yard a lot, this is something to consider.

In a study presented at the 12th Conference of the International Sports Engineering Association, held in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia on March 2018, they have measured a peak daytime surface temperature in artificial turf of 65.6 °C, while the actual subsoil temperatures averaged at 18°C.3 Artificial grass temperatures could reach up to 30°C higher than ambient temperatures.3

For example, on a sunny day with an air temperature of 22°C, like in the summer in Tasmania, there is a possibility that the surface temperature of the artificial grass could reach up to 52°C. That is significant mainly because even surface temperatures of as low as 44°C could already cause burns with prolonged exposure.4 Imagine the possible injury if your pets are playing on the lawn, or your children are playing barefoot on it.

The heat radiating from the artificial turf could make the garden and surrounding areas warmer as well. In contrast, natural grass can offset the effects of solar heat by 50% through cooling evaporation.1 This is especially helpful in the warmer months.

In contrast to the heat radiated by the artificial grass, natural grass will even make the surrounding areas cooler. On the same weather, a natural lawn will have a much lower temperature, as low as by 15°C than the ambient air. That is another motivation to choose instant lawn.

Other Environmental Impact and Effects on Health

Artificial Grass

Risk of exposure to toxins: In addition to water conservation, supporters of artificial grass say that it helps in recycling because of the use of recycled rubber tires and other rubber products for the infill. The recycled rubber products are turned into crumb-rubber and used as part of the installation of artificial grass.

However, people doubt the safety of the crumb-rubber infills concerning the health of those who are exposed to it, especially its contribution to the development of cancer. Although studies seem to have shown that there are no significant health risks, that does not prove with certainty that artificial grass is safe due to the numerous limitations of the studies conducted.5

Because of the possible risk of crumb-rubber, alternative infills are becoming more popular.

In addition to the infill, the material used for the turf itself is another downside to artificial grass. There are more “natural” materials being developed, but they are not widely available yet.

Instant Lawn or natural grass

It is evident that natural is better for the environment and health. If you are afraid of the toxins in the chemicals used for lawn care, there are many organic and natural alternatives that you can use.

Natural grass contributes to the environment, and every living being can benefit from the clean and fresh air it brings.

Which is better between artificial grass and instant lawn?

Artificial Grass vs Instant Lawn

For convenience, the artificial grass will probably win. However, you cannot have artificial grass installed and forget about it. Remember that it still needs some amount of maintenance.

In terms of water conservation, artificial grass may need less water, but in the end, it still needs some amount of water. This is especially true for those in sunny and warmer places, and those with pets.

Do not forget the numerous benefits of natural grass. Would you rather smell rubber or plastic over the pleasant smell of fresh-cut grass?

Isn’t it more relaxing to wake up to the fresh, crisp air in your yard instead of the pungent smell of synthetic chemicals? Would it not be lovely to see birds and butterflies in your garden, too?

If you are only after the convenience and aesthetics, an artificial lawn may work for your needs. But if you enjoy nature and care about your health and the environment, going natural through the installation of instant lawn is the right way to go. Check out or Instant Lawn Hobart services page here for more information.

Sources:

1 Toronto Public Health. Health Impact Assessment of the Use of Artificial Turf in Toronto. April 2015.

City of Toronto.

2 Maryland Institute of Applied Agriculture, “Maryland Turfgrass Survey: An Economic Value Study,” University of Maryland, 1996.

3 Gustin, Matej & Fleming, Paul & Allinson, David & Watson, Stephen. (2018). Modelling Surface Temperatures on 3G Artificial Turf. Proceedings. 2. 279. 10.3390/proceedings2060279.

4 Thermal Burn. (2019, December 29). Retrieved from

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_burn#:~:text=Factors,doubles%20with%20each%20degree%20risen.

5 Information About Crumb-Rubber Infilled Synthetic Turf Athletic Fields. (rev 2018, December).