Natural Grass vs. Artificial Turf


As artificial turf options continue to develop and improve, more and more people are considering substituting artificial turf for backyard grass. Artificial grass is often championed as a cost-effective, more sustainable alternative to natural grass. But before making the switch, it's important to investigate both sides of the turf war.

To help you make an informed landscaping decision, this article will take an in-depth look at the pros and cons of artificial turf vs. natural grass. But, keep in mind that the exact benefits and drawbacks of grass vs. turf will depend on what kind of artificial turf you're dealing with because the type of infill material, brand, quality, and installation process of synthetic turf can greatly affect its performance.

Advantages of Artificial Grass


Artificial turf is an attractive grass alternative for many people because of the minimal upkeep it requires in exchange for a consistently picture-perfect yard to show off to your neighbors. However, artificial turf's positive qualities don't stop there.

Here are just some of the benefits of artificial turf and grass installation:

1. Durable

Artificial turf is hardier than natural grass and able to stand up to the elements better. Instead of turning brown and going dormant during the winter, synthetic turf will look lush and green all year round. You never have to worry about your fake grass dying because of a drought, snowstorm or any other type of severe weather.

Whether you enjoy playing lawn games in the summer or have children who like to roughhouse in the yard, your lawn goes through a lot. Artificial turf is more resilient than natural grass and will not show the effects of wear and tear as easily as grass yards. Its durability also means that artificial turf won't need to be replaced for upwards of 20 years.

2. Non-Allergenic

Because artificial turf is fake, it does not have any of the pesky grass pollen that tends to aggravate allergies. With artificial turf, you can enjoy your yard sneeze-free no matter the season. In addition, those with allergies that flare up with fresh-cut grass won't have to dread the sound of a lawnmower.

In addition to helping you breathe better, artificial turf can also improve your environment by conserving water usage. In fact, the combined effort of the 6,000 artificial turf fields in the United States right now is estimated to save as much as 6 billion gallons of water each year. This means that installing a material that doesn't require watering the lawn is a sustainable and eco-friendly choice.

3. Return on Investment

The initial cost of artificial turf may cause some sticker shock, but artificial turf will ultimately save you both time and money in the long-run by not needing any fertilizers, watering, or additional care and maintenance costs. Fake grass is a cost-effective investment because it's extremely low-maintenance with hardly any extra expenses after the initial installation payment. And when it does come time for you to get a new turf surface, it's a far less expensive and easier process to go through than replacing an area of land with grass seeds or sod.

As the years go on, you will receive compound interest on your investment as you save hours each week from caring for your lawn's grass. And without the need to schedule in a time to cut the grass, your weekends will be freer than ever.

Disadvantages of Artificial Turf

For all its advantages, artificial turf installations are not perfect. It's important to take into account the potential drawbacks of using artificial turf before committing to replacing your natural grass with it.

Depending on your circumstances, here are some reasons artificial turf might not be the right fit for your landscaping needs:

1. Potential Odors

Unlike natural grass that you cut regularly, the top of your artificial turf is here to stay and will retain whatever mess or spill falls on it. If any type of messy material gets on your artificial turf without being cleaned up promptly and properly, it could fester and start to smell. Also, depending on what kind of infill used on your turf, your artificial grass could be prone to retaining odors like sweat.

Those with pets should be especially wary of artificial turf's tendency to lock-in odors because it will make your lawn unable to drain away pet urine and its smell without a natural filtration system like grass. But there is a wide selection of artificial turf deodorizing products on the market along with a variety of natural home remedies to cure the smell of soiled synthetic turf, such as using vinegar to neutralize its odors.

2. Toxic Run-Off

If your infill is made from crumb rubber, the water run-off from your artificial turf may leave behind a minimal level of toxic residue. This harmful residue could affect your family, pets or environment. Although the environmental impacts of rubber-based artificial turf still need to be studied further, rubber's tendency to leach a small degree of toxic contaminants should make those considering artificial turf cautious.

However, there are many other, safer infill alternatives available nowadays, such as silica, sand or cork. Because these materials don't contain any tire rubber, you don't need to worry about the slightest trace of toxic residue from your artificial turf. Make sure you do your research into the type of synthetic turf you're getting before purchasing to protect your family's health.

3. Surface Heat

Before purchasing artificial turf, think about how hot your climate can get. Because artificial turf holds more heat than natural grass, it has a tendency to heat up and get hot to the touch on warm days. However, some types of infill heat the surface of the turf more than others. On a clear, sunny day, artificial turf is 40 to 70 degrees hotter than the air temperature, making it hot enough to melt shoes, blister hands and feet or even induce dehydration and heatstroke.

Artificial grass might start to melt under concentrated heat. Although artificial turf is easily repaired or replaced, fixing your fake grass could be burdensome if it becomes a regular occurrence, so think about what kind of climate you live in before making any grass decisions.

Advantages of a Natural Grass Lawn


Now that you've considered the pro and cons of artificial grass, it's time to take a look at what a natural grass lawn has to offer. A natural grass lawn has multiple qualities that make it beneficial to both the environment and your health.

Here are the main reasons that a natural grass lawn might be worth the extra lawn care effort:

1. Environmental Benefits

You can breathe easy with a natural grass lawn because grasses cleanse the air of dust, dirt and other impurities, such as carbon dioxide. After trapping these impurities within its blades, the grass then soaks up dew and precipitation to help push them down into its roots and back into the soil where dust and dirt reside, and pollutants get broken down by microbes.

Natural grass lawns that capture carbon dioxide from the air convert it to a stable form of carbon dioxide through a process called carbon sequestration. This process prevents the carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere to add to greenhouse gases. Studies have found that, thanks to carbon sequestration, the average American grass lawn can store up to 300 pounds of carbon each year, which means your air quality may improve with a natural grass lawn.

2. Improved Groundwater Quality

In addition to bettering the quality of your air, a natural grass lawn could help purify water pollutants as well. When mixed with the pollutants in the atmosphere, rain can become acidic and harmful to the environment. But, the soil microbes that exist in grasses break down these pollutants as they trickle from the blades to the root zone, restoring the rainwater closer to its original state.

Along with boosting the quality of groundwater and limiting contamination of local water sources by filtering rainwater, natural grass can assist the absorption of rainfall by slowing down the flow of stormwater.

3. Natural Feel

No matter how well artificial turf is designed, there's nothing like the feel of natural grass between your toes on a warm summer day. Being exposed to nature and outdoor greenery has been proven to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, reduce muscle tension, increase the ability to pay attention and raise feelings of serenity and happiness. So that giddy feeling you get from walking barefoot on a nice, luscious natural grass lawn isn't all in your head.

Getting an adequate amount of oxygen also enhances your mood, sleep, mental alertness and stamina, which may be why natural grass is so good for our mental health.

Disadvantages of a Natural Grass Lawn


Despite the draw of natural grass, it comes with its fair share of drawbacks as well. Like anything that grows organically, a natural grass lawn invites the possibility of other living things that you might not want, such as invasive plant species or bugs, and requires continual nurturing to ensure its health.

These are some of the top reasons you may want to consider making the switch from natural grass to artificial turf:

1. Pests

Natural grass can be an appealing home for a variety of lawn pests like ants, fleas, grass mites, worms and grubs. Among the most harmful of lawn pests to have, white grubs are notoriously the most harmful to your lawn because they feed off of the tender roots of natural lawn grass. Not just gross or annoying, lawn pests can seriously damage your yard by killing your grass.

For these reasons, many people try to eliminate lawn pests as soon as possible, but this can often lead to the use of harmful pesticides. Because pesticides are intended to kill bugs or weeds, they are poisonous and toxic to other living organisms as well, including humans. All of the environmental benefits of natural grass mentioned above will not matter if that natural grass is coated in hazardous pesticides.

2. Discoloring

Depending on the climate you live in, your natural grass lawn might not look nice and green for the majority of the year. Natural grass can quickly turn yellow or brown if its environment gets too cold or too hot. If you have many trees or shady sections of your yard, your lawn's discoloration could be due to uneven or spotty exposure to sunlight.

Improper fertilization can also contribute to yellowing or thin grass, costing you extra money and time for no return. On rarer occasions, a lawn fungus is the culprit of discolored grass. If you have a natural grass lawn, you will have to be on the lookout for aggressive species, like various types of fungi, as well as lawn pests like grubs. Along with discoloring, heavy foot traffic on your lawn may result in muddy or worn-down patches of grass.

3. Routine Maintenance

One of the main reasons people choose artificial turf instead of natural grass is the maintenance that natural grass requires to appear healthy and green. If you want a plush natural grass lawn, you will need to dedicate several hours per week to keep it well-watered, pest-free and an appropriate length. Any level of neglect, and your natural grass lawn can quickly deteriorate into an unsightly, withered mess.

You might feel like you have to stick with natural grass because that's how your lawn was when you originally bought your house or you're not sure how to incorporate artificial turf into your landscaping. However, you have many options when it comes to the type of lawn you can have.

Request a Landscaping Consultation With Dragonetti Brothers Landscaping


If you're stuck between wanting a reliably beautiful, low-maintenance lawn and a healthy, all-natural yard, contact Dragonetti Brothers Landscaping to schedule a landscaping consultation. As a family-owned business with over 40 years of experience, we're experts in what your lawn needs. We'll help you determine what type of grass-care is right for your area and how to decide whether natural grass vs. artificial turf is right for you.

Because we specialize in both residential and commercial landscaping services, no job is too big or too small for Dragonetti Brothers. Whether interior or exterior, we'll walk you through each step of planning and installing your landscape design.

If you're in the Brooklyn, Queens or Manhattan area, call Dragonetti Brothers at 718-451-1300 today to set up your free landscaping consultation today.

Dragonetti Brothers Landscaping

Phone: 718-451-1300



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