When my husband and I were recently shopping around for a house, we came across a beautiful old place that had a great cottage feel. The home had a lot of upgrades but still kept a lot of its original charm – and I was smitten. And then the real estate agent showing the place said something I would have never expected to hear: The backyard lawn was actually Astroturf, or more generically, artificial grass.
Um, what? My mind immediately thought of an RV dealership with trailers parked on that horrible green plastic-y carpeting. Why oh why would these homeowners do that? The realtor continued to explain how the current owners hate to mow the lawn and additionally have a grass allergy, and so putting in some form of artificial turf was the next logical step outside of having a stone or concrete courtyard. This I had to see.
And you know what? If he hadn’t had told me it was artificial grass, I would never have guessed that was what it was. Well, from a slight distance, anyway. Peering out the windows of the house, all I saw was a lush, lovely lawn – one that looked better than the neighbors’ patchy yards. And no weeds, either! This was not the Astroturf I thought I knew.
We went out into the backyard and I got a better look at it. Up close, yes, there’s something different about the “grass” – but it really wasn’t that bad. I’d say it’s like comparing a really good quality artificial Christmas tree to a real one – there’s no denying there’s a difference, but the fake tree still looks pretty darn festive.
Artificial grass lawns have come a long way and are now seeing more residential applications where before you’d expect to just see them on football and baseball fields, cheap golf courses and Price is Right sets where the prize is a camping package. A lot of the advantages of an astroturf lawn are obvious: Less maintenance and less water usage, no need to buy landscaping equipment just for the lawn, you’re a lot less likely to have weeds pop through, and you have a green exterior year-round (which must be a bit odd in the winter months but cool all the same). Some complaints about Astroturf include that it heats up more than grass does (which could be uncomfortable on bare feet) and that some artificial grasses are made from not-exactly-green materials. More manufacturers are addressing these concerns though, such as SYNLawn, which has a HeatBlock Technology to lessen the chance of the lawn getting too hot, and has utilized soybean oil instead of petroleum products in their synthetic turf production.
Costs vary, but you can expect to find the better quality synthetic grasses for anywhere from $5 – $25 per square foot. A definite investment at first, but with long-terms savings in money and time down the road.