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Synthetic vs. Real Lawns Part I

Happy February from Desert Rose! This month’s blog is going to be part one of a two-part series that will compare synthetic lawns to real lawns to help you decide which one may fit your needs the best. Part one will cover the pros and cons of a synthetic lawn.

Synthetic lawns have come a long way from when they were first introduced into the market. Starting off as cheap-feeling, non-durable green carpets, they were developed into high quality, almost realistic looking lawn replacements. Synthetic lawns now have so many pros that they have become an appealing option when compared to labor-intensive grass lawns. Not only are they environmentally friendly (needing zero water), there also is no need for "toxic" fertilizers or herbicides. They can also allow you to enjoy outside more if you are a seasonal allergy sufferer, as there is no grass pollen to worry about. A 180 square foot area of turf can save up to 5,600 gallons of water per year. Additionally, there is no need to worry about mud, pulling weeds, or mowing the lawn! There is also a huge advantage with synthetic lawns if you are a dog owner. You don’t have to worry about yellow spots or dying patches of grass from your dog peeing on their favorite spot. The potential for uneven dips and humps that can develop in the grass over time is also eliminated, which can be trip hazards to children as well as the elderly. Artificial turf will pay for itself in saving money on water, fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, as well as upkeep. And yet another positive financial result is that an artificial lawn can also boost your home’s resale value.

True to anything in life, there are always “cons” to counter the “pros” and there are some pretty big downfalls to synthetic lawns as well - some of them can be deal-breakers to a lot of people. The first issue is price…which can be up to $20 a square foot installed for high-quality synthetic grass. There are cheaper synthetic lawns, but they often fray, fade, look cheap and aren't nearly as durable as the high-quality version. However, one way to reframe the cost is that this represents the total cost of the ideal lawn. The steep price means there will not be monthly maintenance costs, expensive fertilizer programs, high water bills, the need to pull the dandelions out before they seed and spread, and not ever having to mow the lawn.

However, just because the lawn is artificial, does not mean that no maintenance is needed. Leaves and debris need to be blown off of the turf and dog urine needs to be rinsed off to prevent odors and build up. These issues bring us to the next point, the infill. Infill is usually tiny black dots known as crumb rubber. The safety of crumb rubber is often debated with neither side backing down. These small crumbs can also make quite a mess and seem to find themselves in your shoes, attached to your dog's hair, and make the occasional appearance in your house. Although crumb rubber is most commonly used, they have recently come out with new types of infill that can prevent most of the negatives associated impacts of crumb rubber.

Lastly, one of the biggest downsides of synthetic grass is heat. The air above the synthetic grass can reach up to 37 degrees hotter than the air above the asphalt, making the synthetic lawn essentially a game of hot lava during the peak of summer! Instead of sitting on nice, cool grass having a picnic, you will find yourself as far away from your synthetic lawn as possible. Due to synthetic lawns being highly heat retentive, they can also melt. If charcoal from a grill or a cigarette butt is dropped onto the synthetic lawn, it will melt and need to be replaced. This heat-related issue can also occur with an intense reflection of the sun from a window. The good thing is that it will not catch fire and once replaced, no one will be able to tell anything ever happened.

Keep an eye out for next month's blog for the pros and cons of a real lawn to help you decide which one is best for you!


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