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How Much Does an Artificial Lawn Cost?

Synthetic Grass Prices

Artificial lawn, also known as artificial grass, synthetic grass, or turf, is a non-organic grass product. The term AstroTurf may also be used synonymously with artificial grass, although it technically refers to a specific product that was famously first used in the Houston Astrodome in 1965. The earliest versions of turf gained a bad reputation as a hard, unforgiving, and ugly surface. Subsequent generations of artificial grass, however, are vastly improved.

Synthetic Grass Considerations

Installing artificial grass is more expensive, at least in initial costs, than laying sod or growing grass from seed. But after a few years you should break even on cost as turf obviates the need for typical lawn maintenance such as installing and maintaining a sprinkler system, mowing, aerating, and watering. Other things you should know about an artificial lawn prior to purchasing one include:

Environmental Impact

Artificial grass has both positive and negative impacts on the environment. First and foremost, it scores big points for conserving water. The Orange County Municipal Water District estimates that a 2,000 sq. ft. live grass lawn uses 90,000 gallons of water per year. Over the 15-20 year average lifetime of an artificial lawn, that's a total water savings of roughly 1,500,000 gallons (some drought-stricken states even offer a rebate for artificial lawn installation). Turf also eliminates the need to apply fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides.

But the use of petroleum products (polyethylene, polypropylene, and nylon) and synthetic rubber crumbs (for infill) in turf have led to concerns about toxic off-gassing. Turf, furthermore, doesn't provide all of the natural benefits that grass does (among them cooler summer temperatures, oxygen production, and carbon dioxide absorption).

Maintenance

Turf isn't entirely maintenance free. The surface should be swept or raked occasionally to keep fibers upright and vacuumed or blown to remove leaves, branches, and other debris. If you have dogs that use the lawn, pick up waste as usual (rinse and sanitize from time to time if desired). The lawns are designed in such a way that urine drains through to the underlying soil.

Installation

According to the Association of Synthetic Grass Installers (ASGI), professional installation of an artificial should be done, at a minimum, with these job materials:

  • A layer of permeable construction-grade fabric atop the lawn's natural soil
  • 2-4 inches of aggregate base (i.e. crushed rock)
  • Artificial grass surface
  • Seaming supplies
  • Infill (typically silica sand or rubber crumbs)

Read all of ASGI's recommended turf installation steps here. View the association's DIY artificial grass installation video here.

Artificial Lawn Average Costs

  • The basic materials (turf, landscape fabric, base material, infill) needed for DIY artificial lawn installation cost $4.00 to $14.00 per square foot. Actual costs depend on the quality of materials and whether or not rental equipment (such as a sod cutter, rototiller, hand roller, and plate compactor) is used.
  • A professionally installed artificial lawn starts at $8 to $12 per square foot but can cost upwards of $20 per square foot installed depending on the quality of the materials and the difficulty of the installation.

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