Artificial lawn – What You Need to Know Before You Install Artificial Lawn

Artificial lawn – What You Need to Know Before You Install Artificial Lawn

Clean lines and shapes and minimalist planting make this a dramatic garden!

The pros, the cons and what you need to know before you install artificial lawn, fake grass, synthetic turf.

It is completely waterwise!

This is why we at Cape Contours Landscape Solutions are loving artificial lawn right now! If you have a new area of lawn you want done, then fake grass is well worth considering in light of our water crisis in the Cape. It is perfect for small areas of your garden that are problematic due to shade and can be used on balconies, walls, rooftops, for sporting and playground surfaces. It is a permeable material too, which means water can drain freely into the earth below it, making it more waterwise. It is soft, durable and safe for kids to play on and keeps your garden looking neat year-round.

A beautiful roof garden for night-time entertainment is dramatic and low maintenance.

Installation should be done by a specialist installer as joining the edges and the infill is not as easy as it looks

It can be lot more expensive than real grass to install

That’s the downside, but the up side is that it’s a lifelong once-off investment. Turf types differ in price depending on their designed purpose. It is best to consult a specialist installer to find out what grass types will suit the function of your area. The turf material itself goes up in price the more realistic it looks and the more plush its pile height. The labour to put it in is quite intensive too, adding to the overall cost, especially if you need an area of real grass or paving removed before you install it. But more fake ‘grass types’ are being added by the manufacturers as the demand has increased and most of them are now very realistic looking, with strands of brown and yellow grass blades, which make them look just like the real thing.

Green walls, glass, steel and architectural styling are elements in the contemporary garden

Can you see the difference? Hardly!

It’s almost maintenance free

The best pro about it is that it almost maintenance free! Not at all like real grass which although is lovely, natural and cool to walk on, requires a lot of watering, feeding, mowing and care on a monthly basis. The most you will need to do with your fake turf is sweep it free of leaves and sand and wash off any dog urine if it becomes a bit smelly. You would of course also need to pick up the dog poos and wash these areas if they are sticky, especially if you have young kids.

It’s quite hot in full sun

Like paving and other synthetic/man-made plastic materials, fake grass heats up in the sun. It is UV protected and comes with a product and installation guarantee/warrantee for up to 10 years, so you don’t need to worry about it fading and breaking, but be aware that it can become very hot to touch and underfoot. Unshaded areas of fake grass can be too hot for kids to play on so definitely consider adding in shade by way of trees or umbrellas and shade sails over areas of new fake turf. Choose a longer pile closer to 50cm in height to make for cooler temperatures underfoot.

Edgy rusty steel retaining and hardy succulent planting around a circular lawn

Great for a shady back garden area where the kids can play safely

It ‘grows’ under trees

Fake grass is completely shade tolerant! No more worrying about those bare areas under the trees. It can even be combined with areas of real grass in very large gardens and installed under trees to give a very realistic look.

Installation should be done by an expert

Generally supplier methods for installing it are similar – it needs to be installed over a free draining silica or fine aggregate infill and fixed with an epoxy glue to a hard concrete edge, just below the surface finish level. The turf itself has lots of tiny drainage holes to allow rain and water to wash through it, but the aggregate must be properly installed and compacted to prevent depressions and holes forming below the drainage holes. Also, because the turf is sold in fixed widths on rolls, joining areas together needs to be carefully done and this is where the expertise is needed! When it is used as playground surfaces, a fine rubber ‘grit’ is added to the pile to make the surface more bouncy and shock absorbing to prevent hard falls. This is not needed in garden environments but can be added to areas under your jungle gym.

Colour in the garden from hardy perennials, succulents and grasses in a cohesive design

A lovely lush looking lawn that needs no mowing or watering!

Infill vs non-infill types

You can also get what are called Non-infill types of artificial grass. These are generally turf types that are more like a typical carpet in pile height – ie very thin from 5mm to about 20mm thick, and can be laid on existing indoor and outdoor hard surfaces. These are generally used for balconies or office courtyard areas, change rooms, sport facilities, cricket pitches etc. They do not require the drainage and plushness of imitating real grass areas.

Happy gardening!

Image and information credits

APCO Synthetic Grass


  1. carolyn January 16, 2018 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    Artificial grass is indeed practically maintenance free, but I love the feel of freshly cut real green in summer under foot!

  2. Stephen January 22, 2018 at 3:44 pm - Reply

    I could not agree more with Carolyns comment. The smell of freshly mown lawn takes me back to my youth. Sadly, the world has changed. Synthetic lawn, whilst more expensive upfront, is actually more cost-effective in the long term. Not only will you save money in the long run, but it will save you many hours in maintenance.

  3. Tracy Monteith April 20, 2018 at 6:35 am - Reply

    Very interesting we are looking at doing our small garden with pet friendly turf
    Thank you!

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