Artificial grass – everything you need to know about costs and laying a low-maintenance lawn

Enjoy a lush green lawn all year round with fabulous faux turf
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  • Maintaining a lawn can be a labour of love, so it’s no surprise that increasingly realistic-looking artificial grass is growing in popularity. With many homeowners desiring this low-maintenance lawn option, sample requests at Grass Direct have increased 289 per cent year on year, with sales up by almost 50 per cent.

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    While it gives a similar sensation underfoot to real grass, the fake kind is both family and pet friendly. Plus you won’t have to worry about mud being tracked into the house after a downpour. The only upkeep most need is a monthly brush and hose-down plus bi-annual weedkiller treatments.

    ‘Artificial grass is simple and easy to clean, in fact, it’s less time consuming and laborious than caring for real grass’ explains Jessica Fox at Grass Direct. ‘As long as you maintain your grass regularly, ensuring you clean up after spills, pets and are treating weeds prior to installing your fake grass, there will be no problems with its appearance, texture or smell.’

    If you’re interested in ditching traditional turf in favour of artificial grass, we’ve got the answers to all your commonly asked questions right here.

    1. What types of artificial grass are available?

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    Image credit: Bridget Peirson

    Artificial grass comes in different designs, thicknesses and shades to suit a variety of uses – there’s no ‘one-grass fits-all’. For example, softer grass feels more like the real thing, while harder materials suit heavy traffic areas. Handy, if the kids like your lawn to double as a mini Old Trafford.

    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.

    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 with lines

    Image credit: Grass Direct

    Artificial grass pile type

    ‘Pile type, also known as yarn shapes, play a big part in the overall appearance’ explains Jessica Fox at Grass Direct. ‘C-shaped allows the grass to bounce back after experiencing foot traffic. Diamond shaped yarns give a smart and uniformed ‘freshly cut’ look. L-shape are the softest to touch and give a natural finish, and multi shape combines four yarn shapes to produce the most realistic looking grass.’

    Artificial grass pile height

    ‘Pile height refers to the total length of your artificial grass from backing to the tip of the blades, and plays a big role in the overall look and feel of your artificial grass. If you’re wanting a neat and tidy finish with that fresh-cut look, then a shorter grass (16-27mm) is the most suited option’ Jessica advises. ‘It is also well suited to families with pets and children and those keen sports players.’

    ‘For a fuller, more luxurious look, we would recommend opting for a pile height of 30-37mm.’

    Artificial grass pile density

    ‘Pile density refers to the number of fibres that are stitched to the artificial grass backing and how close together they are packed,’ Jessica explains. ‘Medium density piles are usually somewhere between 15000-18000 stitches per square metre. This type of pile density is great for your typical demands such as children, pets, and families who spend a lot of time in their garden.’

    Options from Easigrass include an ultra-durable lawn suited for children’s play with a shock-pad base underneath as well as grass suited to pets that’s soft on paws and minimises odours. Heights can range from 20mm to a deep pile 47mm, with colours from a light, fresh green to luxurious darker shades.

    Related: 15 lawn ideas – the best grass layouts and inspiration for putting down turf in your garden

    2. Where can I buy artificial grass?

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    Image credit: Carpetright

    If you fancy doing it yourself, Carpetright offers a capsule range of polypropylene and polyester UV and dirt-resistant artificial grasses from just £12 per sq m, with installation guides online.

    Grass Direct is the UK’s largest artificial grass supplier with a wide range of great products, for every budget.

    LazyLawn has the UK’s largest installation network, so there’s a good chance of finding an expert on your doorstep. It offers a wide range of colours, textures and pile heights, too.

    Easigrass has won six RHS awards for product and design, and supplies and installs artificial grass worldwide. It’s even developed faux grass with manicured stripes for a pro-mown appearance.

    Instead of jumping into buying the first artificial grass you like the look of, we highly recommend you order samples before you buy. This will allow you to compare colours, length, softness and quality, so you can get a true representation of the grass. Think of buying grass in exactly the same way you would when buying carpet – try before you buy.

    3. How long does artificial grass last?

    Faux lawns can last up to 20 years but it’s important to install them properly. To keep your artificial grass looking its best, always be sure to clean up debris that shouldn’t be there. This will prevent any avoidable damage and keep your grass looking brand new; prolonging the lifespan.

    4. How much does artificial grass cost?

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    Image credit: Easigrass

    According to Easigrass, for an average garden size of 50-60 sq m, grass and supply would cost around £3,000 to £4,000, depending on the product chosen. Perfectly Green suggest £55 to £70 per sq m, depending on site requirements, including excavation and waste removal.

    LazyLawn quotes around £25 per sq m for supply only and £65 per sq m including installation. Carpetright estimate that installing its grass yourself would cost from £18-28 per sq m, while B&M suggest that an average small garden using its grass would cost around £1,200 and a larger one around £2,500.

    Prefer the real thing? Lawn care tips – great ideas for healthier grass

    5. Can I lay artificial grass myself?

    Artificial-grass-Lazylawn

    Image credit: LazyLawn

    Laying artificial grass can be a DIY project or it can be done by a professional landscaper, depending on complexity of the project. ‘Installing your artificial grass yourself is a great way of saving money’ says Jessica Fox at Grass Direct.

    ‘For those who aren’t so confident in a DIY fitting, you can hire a local grass fitter to help you with your installation. Spend some time looking around for the best price and comparing quotes, as well as looking out for those with positive reviews.’

    If taking the DIY route, measure the area you want to cover, plus 5cm extra all the way round – the grass can be trimmed later on. You’ll also need to remove turf down to around 5-7.5cm (make sure cables and water pipes are below this) and any large stones. Ensure your grass has been fitted in the correct way to allow the turf to properly drain, blocked systems cause water to lie stagnant. Testing your drainage before and after installing will avoid the issue.

    6. How to lay artificial grass

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    Image credit: LazyLawn

    ‘If you choose to do so yourself, remember that pile direction plays an important role in your grass having that realistic, natural look’ say Grass Direct. ‘To achieve the best visually appealing results, face the blades of grass in the direction of your vantage point. Align your rolls of lawn, laying them with the pile leaning in the same direction across each roll for consistency and to make joins less noticeable.’

    While companies use different installation techniques, the basics are the same – what you’re trying to achieve is a stable base to stop the grass shifting and stop weeds growing through.

    Most achieve weed reduction with a layer of membrane being laid initially. If there’s no perimeter for the grass to butt up to (eg a fence), it’s a good idea to add a timber or steel edge to frame it – this will give a crisp, professional finish.

    Next, you’ll need to create a sturdy base, usually with sand or a similar aggregate that’s compacted down to make it level.

    Finally, you can unroll your grass – make sure the rolls lay in the same direction so the blades point the same way. It can be glued or pinned into place and ruffled to disguise joins.

    7. Why do you need to put sand on artificial grass?

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    Image credit: Bridget Peirson

    Some dense designs may not need infill – a layer of sand brushed on top to weigh the grass down. But for most installations, it’s a crucial finishing touch that will give a professional look. As well as holding the grass in place, it’ll protect it against dogs clawing at the base. It also keeps the grass cooler in the summer as sand dissipates the heat.

    8. How long does artificial grass take to install?

    Depending on how much preparation your project needs, an artificial lawn can usually be installed in one or two days. Sloped installations or those that require a groundbreaker will require more time.

    9. Can I clean artificial grass?

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    Image credit: Carpetright

    Yes, you can. Regular brushing with a soft-headed broom or a rubber leaf rake will remove most leaves and dirt and keep the fibres straight. If your pet goes to the toilet on your lawn, wait until any mess has hardened. Then remove and spray with diluted disinfectant.

    Invest in a specialist cleaning treatment, applying as per the manufacturer’s instructions and rinse down after use. Do not rub the grass or use excessive force whilst cleaning, as this can cause unintentional damage. ‘To get rid of a liquid stain in your grass, use a damp cloth or paper towel and blot the stain directly before treating with your cleaning agent’ advise Grass Direct.

    Sharp or heavy objects can damage the base – regularly move trampolines or playhouses to minimise indentations. Also, keep barbecues away from your grass as heat and embers can cause permanent damage.

    Grass Direct data based on stats taken from Feb 2020 compared to Feb 2021.

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