How to create an environmentally friendly garden that includes Artificial Grass

Updated: 5th February, 2024

Published:7th August, 2020

Artificial grass good environment

Environmental garden fitted with artificial grass

From time to time I hear people saying that using artificial grass is bad for the environment.

Quite often the people saying this are avid gardeners and lawn snobs who just don’t take the time to look at designing a garden with artificial grass. There are many ways of incorporating it into a garden so the garden remains or improves environmentally. Here I will show you some of the design ideas that I use in back gardens, balconies etc to create an environmentally friendly garden that includes artificial grass.

I agree that if every garden was to replace their existing lawn, plants and trees with artificial grass then this wouldn’t be good environmentally. UP Market Research has estimated that the global market for artificial grass will rise to £4.4bn by 2023. That is a lot of grass! And I think home owners, garden designers along with artificial lawn installers should do everything they can to create a garden space that is easy to maintain yet good for the environment.

Well how can this be done I hear you say?

There are garden/outdoor spaces where people live like balconies, rooftops, paved areas, decking and concrete pathways where artificial grass isn’t a substitute for real grass rather it is a more suitable alternative. It adds some colour and softness to an otherwise bland area. It isn’t changing anything in the environment. Below I have highlighted some additions that can be made to these areas.

Front and back gardens that have real grass replaced by artificial grass tend to be the areas of concern. The perception is that these areas will eradicate wildlife. This could be true if you were to completely cover the garden with artificial turf and have no plants or borders.

Here are some ideas I suggest to reduce and possibly enhance the nature in your garden whilst using artificial grass. The ideas can be adopted in small Urban gardens as well as larger gardens. The ideas are mean’t to be quick and easy to incorporate and once implemented require little maintenance. They are also mean’t to involve the family and help educate them on the importance of the environment.

Designing your garden to support the environment

Incorporate borders around the garden

Perimeter fixings

Just because you have an artificial grass lawn doesn’t mean you can’t have a great border with plants in it. We are able to shape our artificial lawns to replicate a real grass lawn. If you have an existing border you may want to increase the size of it so you can have additional plants. This will provide a great habitat for worms and burrowing insects. Plants that attract bees and butterflies like Verbena, Aster, Budleia and Hebe can be planted in these areas.

Have a section of real grass or a wild meadow

wild meadow

In a larger garden it can often be possible to have a section of real grass alongside artificial turf. Choose an area of the garden that has plenty of light and little footfall and grow real grass. Tightly cut grass isn’t great for wildlife instead opt for a grass meadow or a wildflower area. Butterflies, birds and insects will love you for this and it will require little maintenance once established.

Put up some bird boxes and feeding tables

Bird boxes

For birds that may normally be feeding for insects and worms in real grass lawn provide them with feeding tables in the surrounding trees or in the borders. I wouldn’t place the feeders directly on top of artificial grass as the food that falls from the tables encourages rodents that dig at the grass. Nesting boxes can be placed in any trees in the garden out of reach of cats and other prey.

Add planters

Add planters

Planters can be positioned on or next to the artificial lawn. Fill them with lavender, mint, sage or other plant that attracts insects.

Add a bug hotel

Bug hotel in garden

If you have kids this a great project for the family to take part in. There is lots of information on the internet about Bug Hotel construction. Get the right insects in your garden like ladybirds and bees and they will consume the aphids that can eat your plants.

Leave the overhanging trees to grow

Leave overhanging trees

The beauty of artificial turf means it doesn’t require sunlight or water to thrive so whereas trees may need to be cut back or down surrounding ‘real grass’ they can be left around an artificial grass lawn.

Is artificial grass eco-friendly?

Can artificial grass be recycled?

Our artificial grass products are now able to be recycled fairly easily as the grass products we use are made of single plastic Polypropylene. We no longer use Kiln sand when laying our turf which means this does not need removing from the grass. So after roughly ten years when your artificial grass needs replacing we simply bundle the grass up and return it to our artificial grass supplier who is also a recycler. The grass is returned in the same lorry as our grass is delivered in which also reduces carbon emmisions.

Previously it was not such an easy process. Firstly the Kiln Sand needed to be removed from the artificial turf. The actual artificial turf itself was made up of two different plastics that needed separating. They are the plastic grass fibres along and the plastic backing. The two grasses then needed to be sent to the recycling centre.

Are there health risks to having artificial grass installed?

There have been many articles written about the negative impact rubber crumb can have on people’s health due to the rubber crumb containing arsonic and other harmful chemicals. None of the artificial lawns that we install use rubber crumb infill. It is mostly used in sports fields and not gardens. We use Kiln Sand as our infill which is a natural product.

Does artificial grass prevent insects thriving in the lawn?

Take a look at this video where we show you how insects thrive beneath an artificial grass lawn

I have heard artificial grass overheats in the summer months. Is this true?

Sports fields have been known to increase their temperature by a few degrees when artificial turf is used. Again this is the rubber crumb causing the problem (not used by us) as the rubber radiates heat. There will be very little difference in temperature between a real grass lawn and an artificial one in the summertime.

Take a look at our video where we show us pouring boiling water over our artificial grass product

Have you considered the impact a ‘real grass’ lawn has on the environment?

Having a green, well manicured lawn in itself has a big impact on the environment which many purists tend to overlook.

  • When you use a lawnmower to cut the grass you will likely be using fossil fuels or electricity. The best option is to use a push lawnmower but this is tough work especially if you have a large lawn.
  • During the summer months real grass requires lots of water. With summer’s getting hotter and longer this water consumption is likely going to increase.
  • Most lawn maintenance involves the use of fertilizers to add nutrients to the soil and promote strong growth in the grass. Not great for the majority of wildlife. An insect friendly fertilizer is needed.
  • How many people who look after gardens allow moles, badgers, insects etc to run loose on the lawn? Not many instead chemicals are used to rid the lawn of these creatures.
  • Mowing the lawn tightly takes away the insects playground. They like to feed on the blades of grass.
  • Weeding. To rid the grass of weeds weedkiller is used. Often these weedklillers contain a toxic herbicide. Not great for wildlife.
  • Fighting disease in the lawn. Weak grass can be killed by fungus. The way to get rid of this is with a fungicide. Not good for wildlife.

and finally …

As you can see artificial grass has its pros and cons when it comes to how eco-friendly it is. Likewise real grass also has its pros and cons.

I hope this blog provides you with some ideas as to how you can help the environment whilst using artificial grass. As manufacturing methods improve and more recycling plants open up it will give us even greater ways to improve the environment Please let us know any ideas you have in the comments section below.

This leaves the question is artificial really so bad for the environment if the garden is planned correctly? I don’t think so.

If you are convinced artificial grass is not for you I see the only real alternative is to have a garden meadow or wild garden. But will your kids and animals be able to play in a space like this and will you be able to entertain in this type of space?

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