cost of artificial turf vs natural grass

Grass Overview

We’re all familiar with grass – you know, the green stuff that grows in our lawns. Real grass, despite the time and attention it requires, remains more common than artificial turf for residential purposes.

There are two basic options for creating a natural lawn: seeding or sodding. Planting grass from seeds is time consuming but less expensive. Laying professionally-cultivated sod is easier and pricier.

How Much Does Grass Cost?

Grass seed usually costs about 1 cent per square foot. For a 5,000-square-foot lawn, that works out to a total cost of $50. If you don’t already have one, you’ll also need to purchase a spreader for about $100 to $200.

Sod costs about 10 cents to 30 cents per square foot, depending on the type of grass you select. With professional installation, the total cost could climb to $1 per square foot.

Grass Pros

  • Natural – Some people prefer the look, feel and smell of natural grass to any synthetic product. Artificial turf is not as soft and it makes a louder, crunching sound when you walk over it.
  • Inexpensive – Real grass is relatively affordable, particularly if you grow it from seeds instead of purchasing sod. Either way, real grass costs far less than artificial turf.
Average Artificial Turf Prices

Grass Cons

  • High maintenance – Grass requires constant attention. You have to plant it, water it, fertilize it and mow it. If you want a beautiful lawn, plan on spending a chunk of your weekends maintaining it.
  • Not ideal for all climates – Grass can be difficult to grow, particularly in dry or desert-like climates.

Artificial Turf Overview

Artificial turf was originally designed for use in sports arenas, but it is growing in popularity for residential lawns. It is made from synthetic fibers that are designed to mimic the look of grass.

Some people have a negative image of artificial turf because they picture the fake, plastic-looking stuff of the 1960s and 70s, but artificial turf has come a long way. If you invest in a high-quality product, most people won’t be able to tell by looking that the grass isn’t real.

How Much Does Artificial Turf Cost?

Artificial turf is expensive, even as a do-it-yourself project. Budget about $4 to $10 per square foot for materials. Even if your lawn is a very-small 5,000 square feet, that works out to $20,000 to $50,000.

Professional installation usually adds another $3 to $5 per square foot. That brings the total cost for a 5,000-square-foot yard to $35,000 to $75,000, depending on the quality of the turf.

Artificial Turf Pros

  • Low maintenance – There’s no seeding, watering, fertilizing or mowing to be done with artificial turf. Your lawn will look great year round with minimal effort. Simply hose it off from time to time.
  • Durable – Artificial turf can withstand a large amount of foot traffic without being damaged. Unlike natural grass, it won’t wear down or look patchy. It is often sold with a warranty good for 10 years or more.
  • Works in all climates – Artificial turf is a great substitute if you live in a desert-like climate where it is difficult or impossible to grow grass.

Artificial Turf Cons

  • Expensive – Artificial turf is far, far more expensive than real grass. It is not a good solution if you’re on a tight budget.
  • Not natural – Some people don’t like artificial turf simply because it is artificial. They prefer the look, feel and smell of real grass.

Author: Ashley Smith

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