Synthetic grass provides a hypoallergenic, hassle-free lawn for those who have trouble growing or maintaining grass and for those without the time to care for grass. That being said, imitation grass is not without its critics. Artificial lawns hold heat, are costly, harbor bacteria and are slippery to the touch, which can lead to injury. Living grass is less expensive than its faux counterpart; however, it requires more maintenance. Choosing the right lawn for your yard requires you to weigh the pros and cons of both.
Imitation grass is made to take abuse, and features year-round uses, unlike its living equal. Because it needs no light or water, synthetic grass is often on display in large malls, miniature golf courses, ball fields and parks. Movie producers and stage directors find artificial turf a realistic-looking imitation substrate for movies, plays and television shows. Today, artificial grass appears more like real grass than in the 1950s, the decade of its invention. Individual blades of synthetic grass define these green lawns, and a layer of rubber cushioning provides extra comfort.
Though fake lawns are mostly maintenance free, they are not without their problems. There are some health issues related to playing on artificial grass. Those with latex allergies should avoid exposure to synthetic grass. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA seems drawn to imitation lawns, as the materials used to design the faux grass seem to cling to bacteria longer than living grass. Faux lawns are not as gentle on skin as living lawns, thus causing more open wounds for bacteria to enter. Because fake lawns are often made from recycled tires, they are not without maintenance considerations. The rubber substrate in the fake grass tends to overheat, requiring regular watering to cool down the turf. A warm summer day can see turf temperatures skyrocket to 199 degrees Fahrenheit.
The positives of faux lawns are many. Several artificial turf manufacturers are now incorporating hypoallergenic materials into their turf. From an environmental standpoint, imitation grass requires no pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. Also, fake grass requires no mowing or weeding. Faux grasses are aesthetically pleasing. They allow you to have a beautiful, uniform, lush, green lawn year-round. Just be sure to clean them on occasion with soap and water to remove dirt build up.
Synthetic turf lasts between 8 to 10 years. A decade of minimal maintenance on your lawn may well be worth the higher price-tag than standard sod. That being said, you must take into consideration the cost to remove the artificial turf, once it begins to break down. Because it contains recycled tire material, it will need to be removed and disposed of in an environmentally-safe way. The cost to remove faux sod from an area the size of a football field can cost as much as a new home.