Is artificial grass beginning to disrupt the world of traditional horticulture? And is that such a bad thing?


Is fake grass coming of age?

  It’s been around for 45 years, but synthetic grass has been slow to take off in the UK, despite becoming relatively popular for domestic lawns in the arid southern states of America and the Middle East. It seems the British love of horticulture has stood in its way. Until now.A slow tide is turning, perhaps because of our changing climate or our gardens getting smaller. When launched its first synthetic grass brand this spring, more than 7,000 square metres sold in a matter of weeks. Fake turf also made its debut in a show garden at the Chelsea Flower Show this year, despite much sniffing from certain quarters within the RHS.

When is fake better than real?

  When you’re gardening under tree canopies or in heavy shade; for roof terraces, where the synthetic option removes myriad problems from watering to weight limitations; for play areas, where a soft landing is needed (children’s football games can soon obliterate even the toughest grass); and where space is at such a premium that a mower simply isn’t an option.

The right foundations

  One of the main benefits of fake lawns is that you can lay them over practically anything: concrete, tarmac, sand, earth, even decking. However, if the surface isn’t uniformly smooth, for example where you have uneven paving slabs, you will need to add an underlay or sand base beneath your turf to level it off.


Fake turf, real prices

  When it comes to pricing, fake grass is similar to wigs or tans: if you’re going for realism, expect to pay. Most luxury brands are around £25-£30 a square metre and this price can be doubled if you want it installed. However, if it’s more about a playable surface than a realistic lawn you can pay as little as £10 per square metre (at DYG for example).

Long-life lawns?

  There are fake lawns in this country that are still going strong after a couple of decades, but most companies will guarantee against fading for only five to 10 years.


  Fake turf isn’t a great solution for slopes as it becomes tricky to anchor it strongly enough and its sand base will migrate to the bottom of the incline. Subtler downsides? No more fresh-cut grass smell, not quite as soft as the real thing and no mowing chores with which to torture teenagers.

An environmental winner?

  On the plus side, fake grass does away with much of the relentless consumption of hungry lawns: water usage, fertilising and mowing power, for example. But it is a plastic-based product reliant on oil for its production. And it doesn’t offer the biodiversity of a living lawn. However, new turfs are in development that use recycled bottles for their core material.

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