Artificial Vs. Real Grass: A Comprehensive Cost Comparison Guide

Do you know which is cheaper, artificial grass or real grass? We uncover the costs associated with both options so you can make an informed decision that suits your needs
Veda Yalamanchili
Veda Yalamanchili
Last Update:
April 26, 2024

Artificial grass has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its low maintenance requirements and year-round green appearance. But how does the cost of installing and maintaining artificial grass compare to its natural counterpart?

On average, homeowners typically spend an average of $6,500 or between $2,500 and $10,000 for labor and materials to install artificial grass. The basic cost to install an artificial lawn is $12 - $20 per square foot as of April 2024. But is this cheaper than installing and maintaining real grass?

In this blog post, we will delve into the costs associated with both artificial and real grass. We'll break down the factors that affect the price of each, including initial installation costs and ongoing maintenance expenses. Our goal is to provide you with a comprehensive cost comparison to help you make an informed decision about the best option for your home and budget.

Understanding Artificial Grass

Artificial grass, also known as synthetic turf, is a man-made surface that mimics the appearance of natural grass. It was initially designed for use in sports arenas that required a durable, low-maintenance alternative to natural grass. However, it has since gained popularity in residential and commercial landscapes due to its many benefits.

Artificial grass is made from synthetic fibers, designed to look and feel like natural grass. The fibers, or 'blades,' are green and come in various lengths, densities, and textures to replicate the look of different types of natural grass. These fibers are attached to a backing material to create a carpet-like surface that can be rolled out and installed over various bases, including concrete, soil, and sand.

Factors Affecting the Cost of Artificial Grass

The cost of artificial grass can vary widely depending on several factors:

Quality of the Grass

Type of Synthetic Material

Artificial grass synthetic material

Artificial grass is typically made from one of three types of synthetic material: nylon, polyethylene, or polypropylene. Each of these materials has unique properties that affect the look, feel, and cost of the artificial grass.

Nylon is the strongest and most resilient synthetic material used in artificial grass. It can withstand heavy foot traffic and high temperatures without losing its shape. This makes it an excellent choice for putting greens and play areas. However, its durability comes at a cost. Nylon artificial grass often costs between $3 to $5 per square foot, making it the most expensive option.

Polyethylene is a popular choice for artificial grass because it offers a good balance between cost and durability. It's softer and looks more like the real thing than nylon, making it a great choice for landscapes and gardens. Polyethylene artificial grass typically costs between $2 to $3 per square foot.

Polypropylene is the least expensive synthetic material used in artificial grass. However, it's also the least durable. It's not as resilient as nylon or polyethylene, and it can be easily damaged by high temperatures or heavy foot traffic. Polypropylene artificial grass usually costs under $2 per square foot.

Density and Length of the Grass Blades

Artificial grass thatch

The density and length of the grass blades can significantly affect the cost of artificial grass. Denser grass has more blades per square foot, which gives it a lush and full appearance. Longer blades also contribute to a lush appearance and can make the grass feel softer underfoot. However, both higher density and longer blades can increase the cost of artificial grass.

Color and Texture of the Grass

Color and texture of real grass vs artificial grass

Artificial grass comes in a variety of colors and textures to mimic the look of different types of natural grass. Grass that has a variety of shades of green and brown will look more like real grass, but it will also cost more. Similarly, grass with different lengths and shapes of blades will have a more realistic texture, but it will also be more expensive.

Installation Costs

The cost of installing artificial grass can vary significantly depending on various factors. On average, professional installation can cost between $2 to $20 per square foot. Here are some key aspects to consider:

Size and Shape of the Area

The size of the area where you want to install the artificial grass is one of the most significant factors affecting the cost. Larger areas will obviously cost more to cover. Additionally, if the area is irregularly shaped, it may require more work to cut and fit the grass, which can also increase the cost. The amount of work required to prepare the site will impact the cost. This can include clearing debris, leveling the ground, or even removing tree roots or existing hardscape.

Access to the Installation Area

The ease of access to the area where you want to install the fake grass can also affect the cost. If the area is hard to reach, for example, if the installers have to carry materials up several flights of stairs or through a narrow gate, it could take more time and therefore cost more.

Removal of Existing Surface

If you're replacing an existing green lawn or other surface with artificial grass, the cost of removing and disposing of the existing material can add to the total cost. This can include the cost of labor and any fees for disposing of the waste.

Type of Installation

If you choose to install the artificial grass DIY, you can save on labor costs. However, professional artificial grass installation can ensure the job is done correctly and efficiently, which can save you time and potential issues down the line.

Maintenance Costs

Artificial grass maintenance tools

While synthetic grass requires less maintenance than real grass, there are still some costs involved. Here are some key lawn care factors to consider:

Regular Brushing and cleaning

Artificial grass lawns need to be cleaned and brushed regularly to keep the fibers upright and maintain their natural look. This task is akin to the king of lawn maintenance for natural turf-mowing. However, instead of a lawn mower, this can usually be done with a stiff brush. Depending on the size of your lawn, a suitable brush can cost around $25, and you'll need to do this once or twice a year.

You'll also need to rinse the grass occasionally to remove dust and debris. This can usually be done through raking or washing the synthetic lawn with a garden hose. The cost of this will depend on your water usage and rates, but it's generally a minimal cost. Unlike a natural lawn, you won't need a sprinkler system for your artificial turf, which can lead to savings on your water bill.

Replacement of Infill Material

Over time, the infill material (small particles that help the grass blades stand up) may need to be replaced. This process is somewhat similar to aeration in a natural lawn, where you would perforate the soil to allow air, water, and nutrients to penetrate the grass roots. This can cost around $50 to $100 per year, depending on the size of your lawn.

Environmental Impacts and Savings

One of the benefits of artificial grass is that it doesn't require fertilizing or the use of pesticides and weed killers, which can have negative environmental impacts. This not only helps the environment but also saves you the cost and time of applying these products.

On average, the annual maintenance costs for a 10,000-square-foot artificial grass backyard lawn are between $250 and $350. This equates to $5,000 – $7,000 over a lifespan of 20 years, which is realistic for high-quality, professionally installed artificial grass. These are the initial costs you should consider when planning for your artificial turf.

Remember, while the initial cost of artificial grass can be higher than real grass, the long-term maintenance costs are often lower. This makes it a cost-effective solution for many homeowners and businesses looking for a low-maintenance, green alternative to natural grass. It's always a good idea to consider all these factors and get several quotes before making a decision.

Additional Factors

Sometimes, several additional factors can influence the cost of artificial grass. These factors may not be directly related to the grass itself, but they can still significantly impact the overall cost of your artificial grass project. Here are some of the many factors:

Lifespan of the Grass

The lifespan of the artificial grass is a crucial factor to consider when calculating the cost. High-quality artificial grass can last up to 15-20 years with proper maintenance, making it a long-term investment. While the initial cost may be higher, the long-term benefits often outweigh these initial expenses.

Additional Features

Some artificial grass products come with features, such as antimicrobial treatment or UV protection. These features can increase the cost but also provide additional benefits, such as increased durability and reduced maintenance needs.

Brand of the Artificial Grass

The brand of artificial grass you choose can also impact the cost. Top brands that are known for their quality and durability often cost more than lesser-known brands. However, they can also offer better warranties and customer service, which can be worth the extra cost.

Geographical Location

The cost of materials and labor can vary significantly depending on your location. For example, in areas where the cost of living is high, you can expect to pay more for turf installation. Additionally, the cost of artificial grass may also be higher in areas where it's in high demand.

Understanding Real Grass

Real grass characteristics

Real grass, the traditional choice for lawns, has a natural beauty and feel that many homeowners love. However, it requires regular care to keep it looking its best. Let's delve into the costs associated with installing and maintaining real grass.

Installation of Real Grass

Installing real grass involves several steps, each with its own associated costs:

Purchase of Grass Seed or Sod

The first cost to consider is the purchase of grass seed or sod. The type of grass you choose can significantly affect the cost. On average, grass seed can cost between $0.05 to $0.25 per square foot.

Site Preparation

Before you can plant the grass seed or lay the sod, the site must be prepared. This involves removing any existing grass or vegetation, leveling the ground, and improving the soil if necessary. The cost of site preparation can vary widely, but it can start from $1 per square foot.

Planting or Laying

Once the site is prepared, the grass seed can be planted or the sod laid. If you're planting grass seed, you'll also need to cover it with a layer of straw to protect it while it germinates. The cost of planting grass seed is generally lower than the cost of laying sod, but it also takes longer for the lawn to establish.

Maintenance of Real Grass

Once the lawn is established, it will require regular maintenance. Here are some of the main maintenance tasks and their associated costs:


Mowing grass

Mowing is a regular task that keeps the lawn looking neat and tidy. The cost of mowing will depend on whether you do it yourself or hire a service, but it can start from around $30 per mow for a small lawn.


Watering is essential for the health of a real grass lawn. The cost of watering will depend on your local water rates and the size of your lawn, but it can add a significant amount to your water bill.


Fertilizing provides the grass with the nutrients it needs to grow thick and green. The cost of fertilizing will depend on the size of your lawn and the type of fertilizer you use, but it can start from around $40 per application.

Weed Control

Weed control involves the use of herbicides to kill weeds without harming the grass. The cost of weed control will depend on the size of your lawn and the extent of the weed problem, but it can start from around $50 per application.

Cost Factors: Artificial Grass Vs. Real Grass

Here is a small example of how much it costs to install and maintain artificial and real grass over 20 years. On average, Artificial grass costs around $6,500 to install. But, it has low annual maintenance costs of $250 to $350, totaling $5,000 – $7,000 over 20 years. So, you can expect to spend around $20,000 on artificial grass over 20 years. Real grass has lower initial costs at $0.05 to $0.25 per square foot, but higher annual maintenance costs of $1,600 to $3,300, adding up to $32,000 to $66,000 over 20 years. Here is a table with the factors affecting the cost of lawn installation and maintenance: 

In conclusion, both real grass and artificial grass have their own sets of advantages and costs. Real grass, while cheaper to install, can incur higher maintenance costs over time. On the other hand, artificial grass has a higher upfront cost but can be more cost-effective in the long run due to its lower maintenance needs.

The choice between real grass and artificial grass ultimately depends on your specific needs, preferences, and budget. By understanding the various factors that contribute to the costs of both options, you can make an informed decision that best suits your circumstances. Remember, a beautiful lawn is an investment that can enhance the curb appeal and value of your property.

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