In the mid-1960s when it was developed, fake grass – known then as “AstroTurf” because it was first installed commercially in the Astrodome in Houston, Texas – was a revolutionary, new playing surface on baseball, football, and soccer fields worldwide. Times have changed, and synthetic grass is now installed in residential settings, dog parks, children’s recreation areas, miniature golf courses, and other areas where there may be water restrictions or where maintenance is expensive or inconvenient.
The Cost of Fake Turf
The cost of artificial grass varies based on different factors, some of which include the type, product brand name, size of the installation area, and whether you choose to install it yourself or hire a professional. Today, artificial grass cost per square feet may range between $5 and $20.
Why Fake it?
When prospective customers ask our opinion of synthetic grass, we try and educate them before diving into the inevitable question of how much does artificial grass cost. We obviously believe it offers numerous benefits compared to the real thing, which we will discuss later, but for now the focus is on why a decision-maker would choose to fake it.
- The last time you visited the driving range or miniature golf course you kept telling yourself, “Wow, that synthetic grass looks better than my lawn!”
- You took a good look at your latest summer water bill and had one thought: “Dang! Watering the lawn every day is expensive!”
- Time is short, and you are tired of feeding, watering, weeding – or just keeping up with Jones down the block who seems to spend too much time on his lawn.
- You have children or pets and are justifiably concerned about using herbicides or other chemicals to give your grass that “just grown” look.
- So yes, you may fake many things in life for different reasons and choosing artificial grass rather than the real thing is no different.
Where to Install Synthetic Grass?
Synthetic grass can be installed anywhere that real grass grows, and in many places it cannot. At the beginning of this post we talked about the obvious, but we also remind potential clients of other places that are perfect for fake turf to be installed. Some of these places include:
- Decks for above-ground pools, or patio areas surrounding in-ground pools.
- Front and back lawns.
- Rooftop patios where access to water may be restricted, or where it would be near-impossible to cut real grass.
- Outdoor areas used for wedding receptions, birthday parties, large gatherings, or other “special” events where real grass would be quickly trampled and ruined.
- Indoor or outdoor putting greens.
Artificial Grass Cost per Square Foot by Type
Now, down to the nitty gritty. Artificial grass cost per square feet may range from less than $5 to as much as $20, but this includes the expense of materials, labor, preparation, the actual installation, and site cleanup. Real grass is less expensive to begin with but could exceed the cost of fake turf over a 10-year period – and then may need to be fully replaced. Here are some numbers to consider for a 500 square foot installation.
- At $13 per square foot (total cost), fake turf would result in a final bill of $6500.
- Real grass, about $200.
- Annual maintenance expense for synthetic turf: $0.
Annual maintenance expense for real grass: About $840, but this varies depending on water billing rates, fertilizer expenses, and money spent on weekly cutting either by the owner or a service.
- Artificial grass costs after 10 years: $6500.
- Real grass costs after 10 years: $8600 ($200 up-front cost, plus $840 per year for 10 years).
But the decision is not as cut and dry as it would seem. Many customers hesitate when it comes time to “pull the trigger” and decide because of other factors. What will the neighbors think? What if we have buyer’s remorse? What if the new fake turf is somehow damaged?
Those are all good questions, but educated consumers know other factors deserve more attention. For instance, some store-brand or “generic” fake turf could cost $1 to $3 per square foot depending on the length of the blade, color, and how natural it looks. Brand name synthetic grass – Astroturf and others – could cost $5 or more per square foot because a multitude of styles, colors, how it feels under foot, and other factors. The material a company uses to manufacture synthetic grass also determines cost.
- Polyethylene is an inexpensive type of plastic used in many generic or store brands and is less durable but may be a good option for someone on a budget. The cost: $1-$2 per square foot.
- Polypropylene is typically greener, feels more natural, and holds up better than polyethylene. The cost: $2-$ per square foot.
- Nylon is the “Cadillac” of fake turf. It is durable, has blades that maintain their color and shape even under heavy traffic, and resists temperature extremes and dangerous weather that would harm real grass. There is no better choice anywhere.
Fake Grass versus the Real Thing
If you have been a homeowner for any length of time or are someone who maintains lawns as a business owner, you know real grass is a big drag at times. It is undeniably beautiful if weed-free and well maintained, but it takes effort, resources, and money for an indefinite amount of time. The cost of artificial grass may seem expensive upfront – about $4,555 on average according to HomeAdvisor – but it presents certain advantages that many customers readily embrace.
- Fake grass requires little ongoing maintenance, meaning there is no mowing, watering, or weed-control efforts.
- Synthetic turf stays lush and green all year.
- It is safe for children and pets.
- It naturally repels insects and deters animals from digging.
- It is damage resistant and will hold-up in high-traffic areas.
- Fake turf is not adversely affected by extreme temperatures, humidity, or other environmental changes that would damage real grass.
Finally, artificial turf is well-suited for unique designs that match any style of home or structure, indoors or outside.