12 Myths About Artificial Grass
Artificial grass is perfect for those who want a stunning lawn without the maintenance.
But we understand that artificial grass is not for everyone.
However, there are several myths about artificial grass which simply aren’t true.
We’re frequently contacted by customers with questions regarding some of the misconceptions surrounding artificial grass.
We’ve compiled a list of the most common myths we’re asked to clarify:
- Artificial grass doesn’t look realistic
- Artificial lawns have poor drainage
- Artificial grass contains lead and other harmful toxins
- It’s not safe for dogs to use artificial grass
- Dog urine can make artificial grass smell
- Artificial grass is bad for the environment
- Fake grass will become hot during the summer
- Fake turf is too expensive
- Artificial grass has zero maintenance (this one was made up by manufacturers)
- All artificial grass is made in the same way
- Artificial grass is only suitable for sports pitches
- Artificial grass is not safe for children to play on
In this article, we are going to be taking a closer look at each myth in detail and revealing the truth.
1. Artificial Grass Doesn’t Look Realistic
There was a time when this myth was true.
Several years ago, when you mentioned the words ‘artificial’ and ‘grass’ together in the same sentence, images of the nasty looking stuff that greengrocers lined their shelving with would spring to mind.
However, since these dark times, artificial grass has improved greatly and there have been many advancements that have now made it difficult to tell the difference between a real and a fake lawn.
Multiple colour thatches that contain brown ‘dead’ looking fibres have been incorporated into artificial grass.
Many artificial grasses also include multiple shades of green to more closely mimic the colouring of real grass.
This alone has made a huge difference.
But there have also been many other advancements over the years.
We now use different types of plastics to create synthetic fibres. These have various benefits that not only enhance the realism, but also have a whole host of other benefits and uses.
One of the past problems with fake grass was that the colour could appear to be inconsistent.
Synthetic fibres are reflective by nature, due to their smooth/polished appearance. As light is reflected from the surface, the glare results in the grass looking a slightly different shade of green, depending on the angle you view it from.
However, Natural Look technology was developed to prevent glare from your artificial grass, to ensure that it looks perfectly natural from every angle.
Fortunately, the myth that artificial grass doesn’t look real is certainly a thing of the past.
You can see this for yourself by requesting some free samples.
2. Artificial Lawns Have Poor Drainage
If you look closely at the backing of artificial grass, you’ll notice a host of tiny holes, evenly spaced.
These tiny holes allow water to drain through the artificial grass.
The drainage holes allow around 50 litres of water per square metre, per minute, to drain away. This is more than sufficient to cope with the heaviest of downpours.
Once the water has passed through the grass, what happens next depends on how the artificial grass was installed.
For a typical installation, a sub-base consisting of MOT Type1 will have been installed at around 50-100mm.
When using Type 1, we recommend that you crown it, to ensure that there is a slight fall from the centre of the lawn, which allows surface water to run off.
Alternatively, if drainage is a problem in your garden, or if you have dogs, we recommend installing a sub-base comprising 50-100mm of 10-12mm granite or limestone chippings (use whatever is easiest to source in your local area).
The reason for this is that the granite chippings do not contain any fines or dust.
This means that, once compacted, you’re left with a permeable, fast-draining sub-base, capable of dealing with the heaviest of downpours with ease.
If the artificial grass has been installed on concrete or on a balcony, then prior to the installation the existing surface should have been checked to see whether water would run off without puddling.
If puddling does occur, this can be easily rectified by drilling drainage holes into the concrete or by installing linear drains.
Take a look at our article, ‘How to Install Artificial Grass on Concrete’ for further information regarding this.
The take home message here is to make sure you consider drainage or consult with an expert before proceeding with the installation to avoid a poor draining lawn.
3. Artificial Grass Contains Lead and Other Harmful Toxins
This myth came about in the early days of artificial grass, and again, like several of the myths we’re discussing here, there is/was some truth in it.
In years gone by, some artificial grasses were found to contain traces of some potentially toxic substances.
However, this doesn’t mean that this is case with every artificial grass.
Generally, if your artificial grass has been manufactured within the EU, the strict regulations and standards that must be adhered to mean that you can rest assured that your grass is entirely safe for you, your family and your pets.
To know for sure, check with your manufacturer that they have had their products independently tested and verified as being free from harmful substances.
A leading organisation that conducts these independent tests is Oeko-Tex and you can find out more information on their website.
Choosing a good quality artificial grass will ensure that your lawn is much safer for you, your family and pets than a real lawn.
This is because when maintaining a real lawn, the use of pesticides, fertilisers and other chemicals, which can potentially be harmful, may sometimes be necessary.
With artificial grass, there is no longer a need for these chemicals.
Another myth busted.
4. It’s Not Safe for Dogs to Use Artificial Grass
Contrary to popular belief, artificial grass is perfect for pets.
Many pet owners understandably become frustrated by having to clean muddy paws every time their dog has been out in the garden.
With artificial grass, this will become a thing of the past as there is no mud and no mess.
Dogs and pets will happily play on it, just the same way as they do on real grass.
The added benefit with artificial grass is that it provides a healthier environment for them to play on – one that is free from fertilisers and pesticides.
Urine and solids will not stain or harm artificial grass in any way whatsoever.
We’ve found that a very high percentage of our customers are dog owners. For this group of people, the benefits are just too great to miss out on.
Dogs and real lawns unfortunately just don’t mix.
The heavy use and scorched turf created by urine results in a lawn that more closely resembles Glastonbury than Centre Court at Wimbledon.
You can rest assured your dog will love playing on artificial grass, whilst you can enjoy your low maintenance lawn that saves you from the chore of having to clean muddy paw prints off your floor and furniture.
5. Dog Urine Can Make Artificial Grass Smell
This myth rightly concerns dog owners that are considering having artificial grass installed.
However, if it’s installed correctly, there will be no odour emitted from your artificial grass.
In the case of dog owners, we recommend a slightly different installation method than would typically be used.
Our recommendation is to install a sub-base consisting of 10-20mm granite or limestone chippings, rather than MOT Type 1.
These chippings are basically Type 1 that has been through a giant sieve to remove the fines, leaving just the chippings or stones.
This is installed in the same way as Type 1 (i.e. to a minimum depth of 50mm and compacted with a vibrating plate compactor).
However, the difference is that the chippings will provide a much better draining lawn that can allow urine to pass through with ease, without leaving a potentially nasty odour.
Again, although there is potentially some truth to this rumour, if you follow these guidelines you can expect having artificial grass to be one of the best decisions you’ve made with regard to your pet.
For further information, we highly recommend that dog owners read our previous article: ‘Artificial Grass for Dogs – Everything You Need to Know’.
6. Artificial Grass is Bad for the Environment
There are several reasons why this one isn’t true.
Firstly, artificial grass saves on water consumption.
During the summer months, real grass can become dry, particularly during times of drought. The only way to prevent this is by consistently watering your lawn.
Secondly, gas powered lawn mowers have been shown to have a negative impact on the environment.
One study, conducted by Stockholm University, showed that a gas powered lawn mower can emit the same amount of pollution as driving 100 miles in your car.
Finally, with artificial grass you’ll no longer need to use harmful pesticides and fertilisers to maintain your lawn.
This is not only better for the environment, but safer for you, your family and your pets, too.
7. Fake Grass Will Become Hot During the Summer
In years gone by this myth was a reality and, with some low quality artificial grasses, it still remains true.
This myth is understandably a concern.
The time when you most want to use your garden is during the summer months and if your artificial grass is going to be too hot to use, then this is quite clearly going to be a problem.
However, in recent years innovative Feelgood technology has been developed to prevent artificial grass from becoming hot to touch.
You’ll clearly see this in the video below, shot with an infrared camera.
Feelgood technology works by reflecting and dissipating the heat into the atmosphere; leaving your lawn up to 12 degrees cooler than standard artificial grass.
Another way that artificial grass can be prevented from becoming hot is by installing a sand infill on your artificial lawn, as it also dissipates heat.
We highly recommend that you use a sand infill anyway, as it also helps to weigh down the grass and protect the artificial fibres.
If you choose an artificial grass with Feelgood technology and/or apply a sand infill to your artificial turf, your lawn becoming too hot to touch will not be a concern.
8. Fake Turf is Too Expensive
Of course there is a certain amount of expense involved with the installation of artificial turf.
But artificial grass can potentially pay for itself in the long run.
As anyone who has attempted to maintain a real lawn will know, it can take more than water and sunlight to grow a decent looking real lawn – specially in gardens where trees and/or kids and pets make it difficult for real grass to grow.
Because of our increasingly busy lives, time is valuable and many people would much rather spend what little time they get to spend in their gardens relaxing with a nice glass of wine, rather than working.
But there’s not just time at stake here.
Things such as grass seed, fertilisers and pesticides all come at a cost, a cost that over the years can really start to add up.
That’s not to mention the cost of lawn mowers and other items of gardening equipment necessary for maintaining a real lawn.
Then there’s always the increased water bill that you have during the summer months to consider.
If you hire a professional gardener to maintain your lawn, then you’ll save yourself lots of money by having an artificial lawn installed.
Unfortunately, it takes continuous maintenance to keep your real lawn looking good all year, but with artificial grass, although there is still some maintenance, it’s minimal.
So yes, having artificial grass does come at a cost, but in the long run it will save you both money and time.
9. Artificial Grass Has Zero Maintenance
Many artificial grass suppliers and manufacturers report that artificial grass has zero maintenance.
Unfortunately, there is no truth in this myth, either.
However, and luckily, the maintenance required is a fraction of what a real lawn needs to stay in tip-top condition.
Depending upon the level of usage, all artificial grass needs is an occasional sweep with a stiff broom.
This should be done by sweeping ‘into the pile’.
All artificial grass has a very slight pile direction (i.e. the fibres are slightly leaning in the same direction) and this should be done to remove debris and help lift the fibres.
For the average garden, this will most likely only need to be done once or twice a year.
Generally, you won’t need to hose down your artificial lawn to clean it, either. In the UK, we normally get enough rainfall for this to take care of itself.
However, if you have a dog, then maybe during periods of little rainfall it is something you should consider doing to prevent potential odours.
Also, artificial lawns are not 100% immune from weeds.
Seeds that are dropped by birds can nestle in the pile, producing a weed. Luckily, though, as the weed is not growing through the grass, it can be easily removed, either by hand or with a broom.
Weeds can also appear at the edges of your lawn, where any weed membrane would end.
Fortunately, weeds are a rare occurrence and will not be anywhere near the extent that weeds can form on real grass. Plus, if they do, they’re easily removed.
To prevent weed growth, we highly recommend putting down a double layer of weed membrane during installation. The first layer should be installed on the surface immediately after the existing lawn has been excavated, with the second placed directly underneath the artificial grass.
Many people use a garden vacuum to maintain their fake lawn, rather than a stiff broom, and although this would be easier, it’s not essential that you rush out and buy a garden vacuum.
10. All Artificial Grass is Made in the Same Way
There are now many different types of artificial grass.
This is because different qualities are required to ensure the grass performs at its best in different situations.
For example, for balconies, you are better off using a shorter pile. For a back garden, you may wish to consider a long pile.
Artificial grass can also be manufactured from three different types of fibre: nylon, polypropylene or polyethylene.
Nylon is the strongest fibre of the three, making it ideal for areas that will receive heavy use. However, due to the cost of this plastic, it’s best avoided for a front garden; in this instance we would recommend a polypropylene or polyethylene grass instead.
These features are more suitable in some situations than others.
For further information on specifically what to look for when choosing the best artificial grass, please read our guide, 7 Important Considerations When Choosing The Best Artificial Grass.
11. Artificial Grass is Only Suitable for Sports Pitches
It’s true that when fake grass was first created, in the 1960s, it was intended for sports pitches.
This was because groundsmen were struggling to maintain real grass that could stand up to the regular heavy wear of sports matches.
However, it didn’t take long before artificial grass was being installed at residential properties.
There is now a huge range of artificial grass available that has been specifically designed for gardens and lawns (link).
You now have many different options to choose from, including various shades of colour, different pile heights, and different materials.
12. Synthetic Grass is Not Safe for Children to Play On
The source of this rumour is very difficult to know.
Out of all of the myths that we’ve busted in this article, this one is the most baffling.
Kids absolutely love playing on artificial grass.
For them, the most important benefit of having artificial grass is that they can use it all year round without getting muddy!
This is especially good for those mild winter days that can be spent outside playing, rather than being restricted to indoor play due to a having a real lawn that’s too boggy to use.
Budding footballers will love having a kick around on their immaculate artificial lawn that will feel like they’re playing at Wembley.
Be sure to choose a grass that has been tested for harmful substances and you can rest assured that an artificial lawn will create a much healthier environment to play in.
One that’s free from pests, and the harmful chemicals found in pesticides and fertilisers.
Artificial grass is great for small kids, too. If your garden consists entirely of paving, artificial grass is great for transforming dangerous areas of the garden into soft play areas.
For added safety, foam shockpads can be installed underneath the grass.
A foam underlay is essential for climbing frame areas, where there is the risk of a child falling and banging their head on a hard surface. The shockpad will cushion the impact and protect them from injury.
With this list of benefits, it’s not just great for kids, it’s also good for parents to know that their child is playing in a safer environment.
Well, there you have it.
We’ve successfully busted 12 myths associated with artificial grass.
Like most rumours, there is a small amount of truth in some of them and you can certainly see how these rumours have spread.
However, a lot of it boils down to choosing a good quality artificial grass that’s laid using the correct installation methods.
If you stick to these two golden rules, you can expect to enjoy your low-maintenance, prize winning lawn without any issues.
To help you find the best artificial grass, we’ve put together a list: see ‘7 Important Considerations When Choosing the Best Artificial Grass‘.
We hope you have enjoyed this article and, if you have any other questions or any myths that you would like us to address, please leave us a comment below, as we’d love to hear from you.