There’s no denying that artificial grass can take a lot of the hassle out of gardening. With no lawn to mow, you’re suddenly freed up to enjoy your outdoor space.
But is faking it a good idea? Yes, the quality of ‘astroturf’ has undeniably improved over the past few years, and a verdant green artificial lawn surely looks better than a patchy or overgrown real one. Yet some might say going faux has its downsides – particularly for the environment.
In our latest debate, we let two keen gardeners battle it out – who do you agree with?
Should I replace my lawn with artificial grass?
Yes, you’ll make much better use of your garden
Jess Cook, 45, lives with two of her three sons – Otto, 11, and Freddie, seven – in a three-bedroom Victorian semi in Cheltenham. Eldest son Sam, 23, is away at university. A former garden designer, Jess is now PR manager and trustee of the Royal Windsor Rose and Horticultural Society (rwrhs.com).
‘I must admit I was initially really against the idea of artificial lawns. But, as they’ve grown in popularity, the quality of them has improved, too. They look like real grass and they’re easy to maintain. I didn’t have time to keep mowing our lawn. And with two dogs digging it up, as well as the boys playing football, it ended up looking like a mud patch in winter.’
‘So, three years ago, I gave in and had a fake lawn laid. As soon as it was installed, the boys were out playing on it. I knew then I’d made the right decision. The dogs love it, too, and don’t seem to miss digging holes. They still sometimes use it as a loo, but I just put the power attachment on the hose to clean it, and that works a treat.’
‘The environment is very important to us, so I spent time thinking of ways to offset the lawn. Obviously, I don’t use pesticides on the lawn now, and I also grow shrubs, flowers and veg in pots.’
‘Since we’ve had the fake lawn, we’ve made better use of the garden in winter. My only criticism is that it gets very hot underfoot in summer.’
No, we should be planting more green spaces
Joe Perkins, 43, lives in a 1930s four-bedroom semi in Hove, East Sussex, with his wife Natalia and their three sons, Leo, 13, Alex, 12 and Harry, nine. Joe is a garden designer (joeperkinsdesign.com).
‘Fundamentally, I don’t like anything that’s pretending to be something it’s not. My own lawn isn’t anywhere near as neat and lovely as you might imagine. I don’t always have time to mow it, so it often looks a bit scruffy. It’s covered in daisies in summer and gets very muddy in winter. But there’s no rule that says we have to have a perfectly manicured, striped lawn – and it’s better for the environment if we don’t.’
‘I hate the way fake lawns don’t allow for foraging: birds can’t get at worms and there are no slugs or snails for hedgehogs to feed on. Laying an artificial lawn also requires the removal of topsoil, which is packed with vital micro-organisms.’
‘Besides, having real grass enables kids to come into contact with the soil and connect with nature. It helps them learn where we belong in the environment. Astroturf just doesn’t have the same effect!’
‘I have huge concerns about the sustainability of the materials used to make fake lawns, too. There’s a real danger of them becoming seen as a convenient choice, which means we’ll end up getting cheaper products that are shipped long distances, have a shorter life cycle and are then difficult to recycle.’
‘Artificial lawns also heat up a lot under strong sunlight. We shouldn’t be putting down more surfaces that attract the heat – particularly in urban areas where there’s so much paving already. We should be planting more natural green spaces instead.’
‘My advice to anyone who doesn’t have time to mow their lawn often? Don’t worry about it! Enjoy the wildlife it attracts to your garden.’
What do you think? Join the debate at the Ideal Home Room Clinic on Facebook and we’ll add the best comments and images below!