Synthetic lawns offer a (mostly) maintentance-free and no-mow alternative to the real thing for a one-off cost.
Artificial grass is everywhere. It’s official. A trip to any garden centre will bear witness to the growth – or virtual growth – of fake lawns. And what’s not to love? Low maintenance and easy to install, synthetic turf has all the advantages of a one-off cost compared with the ongoing care and maintenance budget required for the real thing.
The British do love a good lawn but, my, the real stuff demands lots of love and devotion: applying fertiliser, moss killing, scarifying and aerating in autumn; feeding, moss killing, over-seeding and mowing (lots – and lots – of mowing) in spring. A glorious lawn is a beautiful thing, but it is heavy on commitment.
It may not be for everyone, but artificial grass can be a practical choice for children’s play areas where natural grass gets a hammering. It’s suitable for shady, compacted, poorly drained gardens that suffer from hard-to-eradicate moss, or for anyone who doesn’t have the hours – or the inclination – for lawn care and maintenance.
What is fake grass?
Most synthetic turf consists of three layers: a drainage layer, a multi-layered backing in jute, plastic or polyester and nylon or polypropylene ‘grass’ blades. Some artificial products are infilled with a granular filler to resemble natural turf. Artificial grass can be bought on the roll or cut to size. It is priced to suit different budgets and available in a range of designs and ‘pile’ lengths. If you are joining different lengths to cover a larger area you will need to buy a joining kit.
How to lay artificial grass
Measure the longest width and length of your area to work out how much artificial grass you will need. If buying off the roll you may need to join pieces, if buying bespoke you can usually buy in one piece and just trim to fit. Always allow extra for trimming and acclimatisation.
If you have an existing lawn, use a spade or turf cutter to remove it to the manufacturer’s recommended depth. Apply a weedkiller and add a layer of sharp builder’s sand. Compact the sand and add a weed membrane. Roll out and position the artificial grass so any ends of rolls don’t line up.
Check that the ‘pile’ of the grass lies in the same way direction across all lengths and butt, but don’t overlap, any edges together. Leave to settle for 24 hours. Trim the edges with a craft knife.
Use a jointing kit or tape supplied by the manufacturer to join sections securely and knock in ground pins at regular intervals to fix the edges.
Brush with a stiff yard brush regularly and keep the area clear of any mess from pets and from debris, such as fallen twigs or leaves. Artificial grass manufacturers will all have their own recommendations on fitting and maintenance, so always check what will be required for individual products.
How much does artificial grass cost?
We’ve picked out 5 artificial grass products, which include great value and deluxe versions.
Vision Deluxe Artificial Grass, around £30 per square metre, Lion Lawns. Dense, three-toned, 30mm pile. Designed to replicate the perfect lush lawn.
The Heath Artificial Grass, £24.95 per square metre, Perfect Grass. Multi-toned with 35mm pile that recovers quickly when walked over.
Fresh Artificial Grass Roll, from £810 for a 2 x 30m roll, As Good As Grass. The feel of a freshly cut lawn with multi tones of green with a subtle thatch and 24mm pile.
Ashton Elite Artificial Grass, £14.99 per square metre, Express Grass. Available in 2 or 4m widths – just choose your length. 29mm pile.
Nomow Meadow Artificial Grass, £49.99 for a 1.5 x 2m roll, Homebase. Includes fixing pins and weed membrane.
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