The struggle to keep a good looking and healthy lawn can be exhausting. It requires a lot of watering, pesticides, weed killer, and fertilizer to keep it in shape. The amount of time it takes can be pretty extensive and not everyone has a lot of free time to devote to lawn care. As a result, synthetic lawns are becoming more popular in residential use. Private home owners are looking for something that is maintenance free and durable. Synthetic lawns have been used for years in sports complexes and public parks. So why not as someone’s lawn? But are they really safe? What are the benefits and drawbacks of a synthetic lawn? How long do they last? Before you go out and spend some money on an artificial yard, you should read about some of the pros and cons.
What Is Artificial Grass
What is artificial grass? Synthetic lawns were once solely for commercial use. They got their start in sports arenas for football and soccer. They have also been used for many years in public parks, golf putting ranges, recreational areas, and even in those grassy curbs on highways and streets. New York City is by far the largest customer of synthetic grass and lawns, all of which are used for city projects. So what exactly is synthetic grass? Is it plastic?
Well, synthetic grass (or artificial grass) is a mix of artificial materials, the two most abundant being plastic and rubber from old tires, that simulates real grass. Synthetic grass is multi-layered with a drainage system and a soft, granular layer that is supposed to resemble turf. Today’s synthetic grass is different than the type from 20 to 30 years ago. Early synthetic grasses and lawns were hard with a definite plastic feel. Today’s brands are softer and more natural feeling.
What Are The Benefits To A Synthetic Lawn
Synthetic lawns are good for the environment because they do not require any chemical fertilizers which can run off when it rains and pollute local water supplies. Another environmental benefit is that it recycles tires which would normally fill up landfills because they do not rot or break down readily. Water conservation is a third environmental point. Since you do not need to water fake grass, it saves on the city’s water supply.
Synthetic lawns are very durable and hardy. They are designed to take a lot of abuse which is what makes them ideal for sports and recreational arenas. They can sustain environmental stresses such as heat and cold without showing any wear and tear. They are also resilient to sun damage and won’t fade.
Safety is another key benefit to synthetic lawns. After installation, the lawn will be smooth and even which reduces the chances of someone stepping into a hole and falling. If you do fall, since the turf is mostly rubber, it provides a softer impact which can reduce the chance of injury.
What Are The Drawbacks To A Synthetic Lawn
All of the benefits sound pretty good and not having to ever mow your lawn again is a big plus. But there are some drawbacks to having a synthetic lawn. The first that we will look at is cost. Synthetic lawns are expensive. While natural sod runs anywhere from $2.00 to $3.50 per square foot, synthetic lawns can be as expensive as $10 a square foot. If you have a big lawn and a company installs synthetic over the entire thing, you are looking at a sizable sum you will have to pay.
Another drawback is that synthetic lawns absorb much more heat from the sun than natural grass. Think about it. Plastic and rubber tires can get pretty hot. Plus, most synthetic lawns are laid down over a stone base which can also absorb a lot of heat. So while natural grass can be cooler than the temperature of the air, especially in the shade, synthetic grass can be a lot hotter.
There have been tests done on some brands of synthetic lawns and the results have shown that the lawns contain carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic polycarbons that are at 7 to 8 times the levels allowed by U.S. Government regulations. Some turf has even showed to have trace amounts of lead and zinc. All of this has raised serious health issues with many watchdog groups.
Also, when synthetic lawns are advertised as maintenance free, that can be a bit misleading. It is true that you don’t have to mow it or weed it but you still have to care for it. Synthetic lawns must be hosed off regularly to get rid of any dirt that has accumulated or if it is a playground for pets. You also need to use a stiff brush to brush out any matted fibers in heavy traffic areas. You still have to take care of any leaves or other debris that falls on the grass. Plus, especially on lawns that has a lot of use from children and pets, you need to disinfect and deodorize the lawn regularly.