Garden Design Myths – Episode 3 – Artificial vs. Natural

Designing A Low Maintenance Garden
An Introduction To Water For Garden Design

Last week we briefly looked at how artificial lawns can be conducive to a low maintenance garden, but there are a myriad of other elements that come into that particular decision. We had a couple of phone calls on the back of that article, so we thought we’d do a deeper dive into the real differences between the two – and crack the myth that artificial grass is the poor cousin of the real thing.

Real, natural turf

Most of the arguments for real turf are intuitive. Childhood memories of playing on the lawn, the smell of freshly-cut grass, the feel of it on your feet. It’s likely the largest natural element of your garden and it represents entertaining space and a playground for children and pets. It’s hard to look past those benefits, but some thigns need to be considered.

Firstly lawns are responsible for one third of all water usage in residential areas and, whilst not as important in Britain, can represent environmental disasters in dry climates. And whilst grass has certain oxygen-producing capabilities in the same way that all plants do, the energy usage of mowing, blowing and trimming far outstrips the balance. The same principle applies for any fertilisers, pesticides or chemicals that you might use; they all have an environmental impact. Again in Britain this hasn’t been raised as a huge problem, but in California new homes are limited to only 500sqft of real grass for these exact reasons.

Artificial lawn

Firstly artifical lawn addresses all of the problems above; it requires no energy usage to maintain and no chemicals to sustain. There are questions about the manufacturing process and energy consumption therein, but many producers are now utilising recycled materials like tyres and bottles to offset this. Life expectancy for good artificial turf can be anywhere between 20 – 30 years, meaning that most newly-lain artificial turf will last the lifespan of your stay in a residency. With endless customisation of colour, length, feel, durability – most people can’t even tell the difference between the two.

And again the arguments against artificial are as intuitive as the arguments for real turf. It’s plastic in your garden, which feels somewhat wrong, but crucially however many biodegradable elements it incorporates – ultimately it’s non-recyclable and will end up in landfill. Artificial lawn is permeable and therefore resistant to rain, but the absorption of animal waste is another matter entirely. One of the most important factors to most people is the upfront cost of a synthetic lawn, it can be a huge amount up front but is almost always outweighed by the reduction of ancillary maintenance and care costs for real turf, so it just depends on whether you can afford that initial outlay for long-term benefit.

So we’re not really busting the myth, that’s down to you. But we hope that presented with the facts, you can now make the right decision as to which is best for your home and lifestyle.


Eden Restored is a team of passionate garden designers working throughout London, Kent and Surrey.

We deliver value-for-money on projects of any size, from inner-city courtyards to countryside cottages.

To discuss your ideas and how we can help throughout the entire process, get in touch.

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