Fighting the Greedy Sponge Monster: Why Artificial Lawns Are Better

Maintenance between Natural Lawn & Artificial GrassOnce upon a time and not so very long ago, synthetic lawns for residences were virtually unheard of. Sure, sports turf was okay for colossal stadiums, where aesthetics aren’t all that important and domed arenas with reduced sunlight almost make it a necessity, but faux grass for your own home?

No way! But nowadays, it makes a whole lot of sense to do exactly that.

The high-end ones are virtually indistinguishable from real ones, and the materials they’re crafted from are impressively high-tech. The sheer luxuriousness of its plush matting will feel so good on your feet.  And the best part?  Very little maintenance! But you’re going to have to do some to make sure it stays nice for a very long time.

There’s so much work you have to do to preserve the beauty of natural grass. But with artificial turf, the lushness is always going to be there, with little effort on your part. Laborious aerating, enervating edging and tedious reseeding will soon be a thing of the past. You can coolly watch your neighbor as he sweats buckets trying to maintain that perfect look. Meantime, your own efforts take mere minutes to complete.

If that doesn’t make your neighbor insanely jealous, I don’t know what will.

All of this is good news if you happen to be lazy.  Or, to use a more politically correct term, “work-averse.” Why would you want to do more work than necessary anyway? Are you a glutton for punishment or something?

Just a wild guess, but I’m thinking you would you rather spend your summer afternoons kicking back on your double teak chaise lounge with your significant other, basking in the glorious sunshine, with a refreshing glass of sangria at your side.

For the environmentally conscious, there are even organic, recycled infills, such as Safeshell©, which is crafted from walnut shells. Artificial lawns have almost become de rigueur for the drier, more inhospitable parts of our country—where the land is desolate and barren, and the grass stubbornly refuses to grow.

Backbreaking Monotony AND Environmental Devastation

What’s great about artificial turf is that the very things that save you endless toil and sweat are also the reasons that make them so good for the environment.

With organic lawns, you’re fighting tooth and nail against one of the most inexorable of natural laws (entropy) and there’s a whole laundry list of things you must to do make sure nature doesn’t run amuck. Some of these things even have devastating environmental consequences.

For starters, you have to weed and fertilize them. And weed killers and fertilizers, as you know, can be incredibly toxic for both children and pets. Also, lawn mowing, besides being hard work, is bad for the environment. The carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons belching from mowers contribute to global warming, and the penetrating drone of their noise threatens to obliterate the bucolic tranquility of neighborhoods everywhere.

Now, compare an artificial lawn to a natural one. With the artificial version, there are no deadly chemicals seeping insidiously into our rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans. Chemical runoff, by the way, is the number one cause of water pollution.

Water Needs of Both Types of Lawns

Natural lawns require a lot of water, and unfortunately, it’s becoming a scarce resource. We have to find ways to cut down on its use.

Real lawns might have history on their side, but in all actuality, they’re greedy sponge monsters with an unquenchable thirst. The water situation will only get worse, and as it does, artificial lawns will be there to replace some of the natural ones. Although you need some H2O to clean your synthetic turf, very little is actually required. Once in a while, just give your lawn a good spraying to get rid of all those accumulated twigs and other debris. Wash dirt off by hosing down your grass with a light detergent.

Not having to use so much water is great news if your water is metered, or if you have well water. And you won’t have to stand there for hours like a dork, bored out of your mind, holding a silly hose in your hands when you can think of much better things to do.

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Gunk

What happens if you spill something nasty on your artificial turf?

With the built-in stain resistant properties of the stuff, it won’t exactly be a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. To remove stains, use a little warm water, or if the stain is particularly stubborn, use water and vinegar. To remove gum, chill it with an ice cube. For any other type of gunk, use a plastic putty scraper. Some people even steam clean their grass.

Since there’s no dirt, there’s no mud, and your kids (if you have any) won’t sully your sparkling clean floors with their grimy boots.

To limit the amount of debris falling on your lawn, trim back hedges and cut overhanging branches. Pick up any branches or large twigs that fall on your lawn as soon as you can to prevent damage to your lawn’s mesh fabric.

Giving Your Turf a Manicure

Raking or brushing will also help prevent your infill from compacting, keeping it fluffy and not too firm. But don’t use metal rakes or other tools on your lawn—these will only damage the grass blades. You can buy rakes designed for use on artificial turf that have nylon tines.

Regularly remove leaves using a stiff brush, or a plastic or bamboo rake. You’ll be pleased to know that the smooth surface of your synthetic yard makes raking a whole lot easier to do than it ever was when you had a real lawn. You might even be able to get away with using a push broom, or even a broom and dustpan.

For dry leaves, you might want to use a leaf blower. For wet leaves, use a shop vac. When using either of these things, use them on their lowest setting so you don’t disturb the infill, especially if it’s comprised of sand. Using a stiff natural bristle broom, sweep your grass blades against the grain to keep them standing upright, so they’re not all matted like a mangy old mutt. Try to do this once every three months.

It’s so easy to make a few passes over your lawn with your trusty old broom, and presto! Your grass is standing at attention again like hundreds of tiny emerald soldiers, proudly at your service in your heroic battle against the backbreaking rigmarole of unnecessary lawn chores.

Introducing Your Lawn to Man’s Best Friend

Speaking of mutts, you also may need to get a product for odor control if you’re a pet owner, as dog urine can cause unpleasant odors to fester in your lawn. For this purpose, use a turf deodorizer like Urea Z. Urea Z quickly gets to the root of the problem, although it’s a bit expensive. Before you use any odor control solution, thoroughly hose down the area.

Alternatively, you can always set aside an area away from your yard for your dog to do its business, although this isn’t really necessary.

You can buy artificial grass especially designed for your resident tail-wagers, with improved drainage systems and material that has a greater ability to resist urine stains. The grass blades in this type of turf are composed of denser fibers to better withstand the rigors of pooches who want to stage the canine equivalent of Wrestle-mania right there on your beautiful lawn.

 It’s easy to take care of pet-related problems with your artificial turf. But if your dog urinates on real grass, it can cause unsightly brown spots. This is due to the high nitrogen content of dog urine, which burns the lawn.

Be a Flower and Not a Weed

Now for a bit of bad news: you still might have to do some weeding.

Some people might be a little surprised at this, but it’s true. Weeds can appear around the edges of your lawn or in the small holes of the permeable backing material. They may also pop up in the infill (depending on its type). However, weeds growing in the infill cannot root below the base level of the turf.

If you use the kind of infill that allows seeds to germinate (like sand), you may discover the nasty little buggers setting up camp in your artificial grass. But it’s difficult for them to gain a foothold in properly installed artificial turf. That’s because reputable contractors take steps to prevent this from happening.

They excavate the area, which eliminates pre-existing weeds. And then they spray weed killer, which prevents future seedlings from springing up. And if all this wasn’t enough, they compact the base and install weed barrier fabric. This will eliminate most of your headaches. However, it’s darn near impossible to eradicate all the root systems, so not surprisingly, seedlings can eventually push their way to the surface again.

But with an artificial lawn, your weeding problem will always be small potatoes—unlike a real lawn or garden, which can be a real nightmare. To further help with the problem, apply a non-toxic weedicide twice yearly that’s safe to use on your particular brand of turf.

Cold Weather Considerations

Artificial lawns are manufactured to be resistant to the damage that snow, ice, and the ravages that frigid temperatures can cause. But even if it’s too darn cold outside to spend much time on your lawn, there are a few things you have to do to keep it in tip-top shape. Before the first snowflake kisses the ground, rake out all leaves and other debris to make snow removal easier and to minimize slippery conditions.

It’s best to just let snow and ice naturally melt and let the drainage system carry the water away. Or you can melt it with some warm water. If for whatever reason you can’t do either, remove the snow carefully with a plastic shovel. Try to leave at least one inch of snow on top of the grass.

You probably shouldn’t use salt on your lawn because the salt residue can build up over time and prevent proper drainage. And be extra careful when walking on your lawn in cold weather, as it could get very slippery.


Artificial lawns are much easier to maintain than real ones.

With artificial lawns, you have none of the hassles of real turf, but 100% of their natural beauty. Say goodbye to backbreaking, labor-intensive lawn care. And as you watch your neighbor valiantly struggle with his yard that sucks up every ounce of his attention like the harshest of taskmistresses, you can thank your lucky stars that poor fellow is not you anymore.

It’s almost like winning the lottery!

The icing on the cake? Your efforts will help to create a cleaner environment. And your mowing days are behind you, so no more fouling the air with noxious greenhouse gases.

In the end, you’ll probably have one of the best looking lawns in the entire neighborhood. Most people won’t even be able to tell that it’s artificial. And because you’re not spending every waking minute using every trick in the book to get your grass to be that perfect shade of green, you’ll have all the time in the world to do the things you truly love to do. 

An artificial lawn is really easy to take care of, and you’re beautiful albeit synthetic backyard won’t suffer any of the bewildering array of ailments that real lawns are subject to. Just sit back, relax, and admire its high-tech aesthetics, which are the pinnacle of decades of cutting-edge research.

Just follow the easy steps in this article and you can rest assured that your artificial turf will last a very long time. It’s not the right solution for everyone.

But it might be just the right one for you.

Picture of Brad Borgman - National Sales Manager, Landscape

Author: Brad Borgman - National Sales Manager, Landscape

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