How much does artificial grass cost? Ask the staff at your local garden center or call up a few contractors for a quote, and they’ll answer what you thought was a simple question with more questions of their own:
Are you talking nylon or polypropylene?
What kind of foundation layer are you thinking of?
How much are you planning to use your new artificial lawn anyway?
Let’s be honest, all of those questions can be enough to make you forget the whole thing altogether. Yet before you do that, read on, as below we outline everything you could possibly need to know about buying and installing artificial grass, including how much you should realistically expect to spend.
How Much Does Artificial Grass Cost? A Basic Price Guide
Unlike real grass which can fade due to changing weather conditions, artificial grass continues looking fresh and gorgeously green for years
In 2020, installing artificial grass costs between $5 and $25 per square foot depending on the type of material.
Today, the average American home has a lawn measuring around 6,100 square feet (0.14 acres), so you could expect to pay anywhere from $30,000+ to $152,500 to replace your entire lawn.
By comparison, laying sod to cover the same area may only set you back under $2,500. However, as we’ll discuss later, this typically proves to be a false economy when you take into consideration the long-term maintenance costs associated with real grass
These figures are all-inclusive, meaning they cover not only the cost of artificial grass itself (typically running between $3 – $10 per square foot) but additional materials such as the base as well as professional labor costs.
Of course, by forgoing those labor fees altogether and doing the grunt work yourself, you’ll be able to significantly reduce the overall cost of your new lawn.
Artificial Grass Costs By Material
If your lawn will be used regularly by children or grandchildren, consider opting for a tougher form of synthetic grass such as nylon
While labor and additional materials both play a part in determining the overall cost of your artificial lawn, the first price factor to consider is that of the grass itself.
The truth is that not all synthetic grass is created equal. Different brands often use different materials in the manufacturing process. This affects the overall quality of the finished product and the quality, in turn, affects the cost.
Below we’ll consider the three most popular types of artificial grass and how much you should expect to pay for them:
Nylon – $4 – $5 per square foot
Typically costing around the $5 for the better quality brands, nylon may be the most expensive artificial grass, but as the toughest material out there, it generally delivers great value for money.
Highly durable, nylon grass is the best option for those gardens that are subjected to heavy foot traffic. If you’re planning to host your fair share of garden gatherings, or if you’ll have young ones running around the place all summer long, for example, then you’ll find that spending the extra money on this variety proves worth it to keep your outdoor space looking at its best.
Another major advantage of nylon is that it holds up incredibly well after long periods of heat, making it a great choice if you live in an area with extremely hot summers.
Of course, all this added resilience comes at the expense of softness, and you’ll usually find that this is a lot stiffer than other varieties.
Polypropylene – $3 – $4 per square foot
Offering a solid middle-ground between nylon’s remarkable durability and polyethylene’s wallet-friendly pricing, polypropylene truly is the best of both worlds.
Top-end varieties such as the best-selling Kunta Garden Premium Artificial Grass offer exceptional durability, making it just as good a choice for well-used gardens as it is for your local baseball field.
Yet unlike other materials, polypropylene doesn’t have to sacrifice aesthetic appeal in order to achieve this rugged strength.
These types of lawn come with a soft, natural look that is every bit as gorgeous as the real thing. In fact, it’s only when you get close up that you realize that what looks like lush greenery isn’t legit.
On the downside, polypropylene lawns can require the occasional going over with a garden rake to help them keep their bounce and rich appearance.
Polyethylene – $2 – $3 per square foot
At the bottom end of the scale, polyethylene may be the cheapest option available for anyone looking to add an artificial lawn on a limited budget, though the old saying that you get what you pay for certainly rings true here.
Usually costing no more than $3 per square foot, polyethylene may look good to begin with but it soon begins to fall apart if it’s walked over a lot. What’s more, unlike nylon, this particular material struggles to hold its own under excessive heat. So, if you’re living in a particularly hot climate, you may find that your polyethylene lawn starts looking disfigured over the course of the summer.
On the plus side, if you live in a moderate climate and you’re planning to lay artificial grass in a part of your property that won’t get much foot traffic, this is a great way to add an attractive lawn at minimal expense.
These days, it’s becoming more common to find brands like WS who create artificial grass made from polyethylene and polypropylene yarns woven together. While these may be more expensive than pure polyethylene, they add a little strength which some homeowners may find invaluable.
Laying Artificial Grass: Other Costs You’ll Need to Consider
To lay the perfect artificial lawn like this one, you’ll also need to invest in a solid foundation and boards to create the edges.
Having weighed up the pros and cons of the three different types of artificial grass, you should be able to start putting a budget together.
Yet before you go rushing off to your local garden center, we should point out that there are several other costs you’ll need to consider too:
Foundation Layer: $2 – $4 per square foot
The good news is that while laying a base layer for your artificial lawn is essential, it certainly isn’t expensive.
Bags of gravel, base sand, or grit will prove effective at giving your new lawn the solid foundation it needs and can usually be found pretty cheaply.
The only time that adding a foundation gets expensive is if you opt to use silica sand. While this can be really good for creating an even surface, it also costs around $10 per pound. For a large garden, you could end up using over a hundred pounds, if not more, meaning this isn’t the best option if you’re on a tight budget.
Weed Barrier Fabric: $1 – $5 per square foot
Weeds like these can seriously damage your new artificial lawn, making a weed barrier essential.
Weeds can be a garden-damaging nuisance at the best of times, but when it comes to your new synthetic lawn they can be extra especially troublesome.
Sadly, no amount of weed killer in the world is going to help you if weeds start working their way through your foundations and disturbing your pristinely laid turf, which is why it pays to lay down a roll of premium quality weed barrier fabric before laying your lawn.
Bender or Poly Board: $20 – $25 per 20 square foot
Bender or poly boards are required to help you create perfect edges for your lawn and hold it in place so that even if it gets a lot of heavy use, it won’t budge.
Again, the good news is that stuff is pretty cheap. A good quality roll can be bought for under $25, and depending on how big your space is, you may only need three or four rolls maximum.
Labor Costs: $20 – $30 per hour
Here’s where you’re looking at the biggest costs that you’ll incur after the actual grass itself.
Most landscaping contractors will charge you a flat fee for installing your lawn, though this is likely determined by how long they think it will take and the complexity of the job itself.
If your artificial grass needs to be intricately placed around a pool, pond, or other garden feature, for example, then this is likely to cost more than it would to simply have a straight, square lawn installed.
Keep in mind too that if you’re paying a contractor to first remove an old lawn or carry out essential preparation work such as excavating your garden to make room for the lawn, then this will add to your costs.
While you could eliminate labor costs altogether by doing the hard work yourself, it should be pointed out that a seasoned professional will be able to do the job twice as well in half the time. What’s more, most professional jobs come with a guarantee, ensuring you’re well covered if something goes wrong.
Artificial Grass Maintenance Costs vs. Natural Lawn Care
Installing an artificial lawn eliminates the need fo many regular maintenance tasks such as mowing
Whichever way you look at it, there’s no escaping the fact that it costs far more to lawn an artificial lawn than it does a real one.
Still, it’s worth pointing out that although the fake stuff may require a larger budget to begin with, it could well end up paying for itself in the long-run thanks to years of saved maintenance costs.
Think about it:
At a bare minimum, a natural lawn requires regular mowing and perhaps even some tidying up around the edges with a weed eater.
Do this work yourself, and you still have the costs of buying, maintaining, and repairing your gardening equipment, not to mention all those hours of lost time that could be better spent on more enjoyable things.
Bring somebody else in to do it for you, and you’re looking around at least $25 per week, if not more, to hire a lawn services company for the 25-26 weeks of spring and summer.
In some cases, you may need to buy and spread lawn fertilizer (or again, paying a professional to do it for you) and in dryer climates, additional costs may be incurred by watering.
With artificial grass, however, you may need to do no more than getting a good quality rake or leaf blower to clear up fallen leaves from time to time and give it the occasional clean down with a little water from a hosepipe.
All in all, you’re looking at substantial savings on lawn maintenance every year for the lifetime of your artificial grass. Considering that most synthetic lawns last upwards of 15-20 years, those savings could more than justify the initial cost of installing artificial grass.
What to Look For When Choosing Artificial Grass
If your new lawn will be exposed to lots of sunlight then it’s important to ensure it’s UV-resistant.
To the untrained eye, all artificial grass may look pretty much the same. So why do some brands cost significantly more than others?
The simple answer is that some types contain different features and properties that can provide added strength, color, and long-lasting durability.
If you’re currently shopping around for the best grass to fit your lawn, these are some of the features that it pays to look out for:
Over time, even the best synthetic grass on the market will start to fade after years of exposure to sunlight.
With that in mind, one key thing to consider is whether your preferred grass is UV-stabilized, meaning it contains unique properties designed to protect it from sun damage.
Even if a product claims to be heat resistant, that’s no guarantee that it can withstand UV rays, so it’s always worth checking.
Options like Altrustic’s Deluxe Synthetic Lawn Turf proudly boast of their UV-resistant qualities, whereas other brands are a little more coy about how well their products will hold up after prolonged sun exposure. As such, if you’re laying an artificial lawn in particularly sunny climates, it pays to check with the manufacturer and with independent reviewers how well your chosen product is likely to fare.
If you’re opting for polyethylene or polypropylene turf, then you’ll find it helpful to look for one with a resilient, urethane-coated backing that can provide much-needed reinforcement. This is particularly helpful if you suspect your new lawn will be in for some heavy use over the coming years.
If, on the other hand, you’re going with a nylon-based lawn, then this isn’t so essential as nylon will already provide all the strength and resilience you’re ever going to need.
There is, however, one exception to this.
The urethane backing on products such as these Emerald Bluegrass Premium Synthetic Turf mats also helps with water drainage. So, if you live in a climate that is susceptible to heavy rainfall, this may prove essential regardless of your turf material.
Non-absorbent fibers prevent your grass from retaining smells such as those from your pets
With absorbent turf, smells from pets, pools, and ponds can be soaked up by the grass and leave your entire outdoor space smelling less than pleasant.
This is particularly important if you’re installing your new grass by your outdoor pool, as the smell of chlorine can be both incredibly strong and incredibly tough to get out of fake grass. That said, if you’re planning to let your pets run around on your new lawn, or if there’s a chance that water from your pond might splash on to it, then choosing a non-absorbant brand will save you hours (and quite a few dollars) of cleaning.
We’ve seen some reviews from customers in hot climates such as Florida and California which claim their artificial grass melted in the blazing sun, effectively ruining their entire garden.
That’s not to mention how uncomfortable it’s going to be if you choose a synthetic lawn that absorbs and retains heat, making it unpleasant to even walk across.
Meanwhile, extremely cold temperatures have a tendency to cause some of your blades to snap and crack.
Sure, if you live in an area with relatively mild temperatures, this may not be such a big deal, but if you know your artificial grass will be exposed to roaring summer heat or freezing cold winter frost, then choosing a good weather-resistant product like this artificial turf from Goasis Lawn is a good idea.
Frequently Asked Questions About Artificial Grass
Laying artificial grass like this can take anywhere from half a day to several days depending on the size.
How Long Does it Take to Lay Artificial Grass?
As with the cost, the length of time that it takes to install synthetic grass is largely determined by the size of your garden.
For the average small or medium lawn, it should take no more than a solid day’s work to fully install the grass, while larger spaces may take between three to four days depending on the size.
Of course, other factors are at play here too. For example, if you first have to remove your old lawn before laying a new one, then that could take anywhere from half a day to a full day, making the whole process last even longer.
Keep in mind also that a professional landscape gardener with the right skills, experience, and tools will be able to do the job much faster than you might be able to do yourself. As such, if a professional tells you it might take them less than a day, it’s worth budgeting for at least an extra day if you ultimately decide to go it alone.
How Long Does Artificial Grass Last For?
Most leading manufacturers boast that their products are built to last for 20 years and add special UV-resistant properties to prevent that rich, green color from fading.
However, if you’re hosting a lot of summer parties, frequently have the kids running around in the garden, or otherwise subject your lawn to plenty of heavy usage, then that will certainly take its toll. In that case, it may be as early as 10 – 15 years by the time your artificial grass starts showing signs of wear and tear.
Are Synthetic Lawns Pet Friendly?
Yes. Most leading brands use safe, eco-friendly materials that are non-toxic and cause zero harm to your four-legged friend. Many manufacturers are even keen to make their pet-friendly qualities a key selling point of their products.
In fact, an artificial lawn may prove even better than the real thing for some pet owners.
Think about it:
No more having to break out the spade every time your dog goes on a digging spree in your back garden. No more worrying about your pets turning your space into a muddy mess after it rains, and no more having to keep your pets away from your garden if you’ve had to use weedkiller or similar products.
Is Synthetic Grass Fireproof?
Hosting a barbeque is perfectly safe with an artificial lawn as long as you avoid dropping hot charcoal or other heat sources onto it
As a general rule, artificial grass tends to be fire-resistant, but since it’s made of plastic, it will still melt if exposed to intense heat.
When most people ask this question, their biggest concern is whether or not it’s safe to host a summer barbecue with a synthetic lawn. The answer is yes, it’s totally safe as long as you apply the same common sense that you’d use if barbecuing with a real lawn. In other words, be sure to keep the heat source away from your grass wherever possible.
On a similar note, smokers should take care not to drop hot ash or discarded cigarettes on their new lawn as this too could cause the fake grass to melt. Though a minor patch of melted turf may be barely noticeable at first, over time, lots of little burns can soon add up and ruin the aesthetic appeal of your lawn.
Final Thought: How to Choose the Best Artificial Grass for Your Garden
A polypropylene lawn creates a beautiful, natural look at an affordable price
Now that you’ve got a good idea of how much your new lawn is going to cost you, only one question remains:
Which type of artificial grass should you pick?
Honestly, it all depends on two key things:
- How you’ll use that lawn
- Your budget.
If you’re looking to spend as little as possible, then polyethylene is undoubtedly the way to go. The cheapest material available, choosing polyethylene does mean you’ll get a good looking lawn at a budget-friendly price. However, it also means you’ll lose out on strength and durability and, as such, makes this option better suited for those lawns that are more for show than practical use.
At the other end of the spectrum, nylon offers at least double the kind of strength and resilience that you get with polyethylene, making it well-suited for gardens that receive heavy foot traffic. However, it’s also double the price.
Somewhere in the middle, polypropylene is an excellent compromise between the two, offering not sufficient durability and affordable pricing, but also a gorgeous, natural green look that makes it an attractive addition to any home.