If you want that perfectly-manicured lawn, artificial grass might just be the solution you’re looking for. And it saves time and money on watering, weeding, mowing and fertilizing. But how much does it really cost?
If you live in the American Southwest – Arizona, Nevada, California, or New Mexico – you know how much time and money you can put into maintaining a natural lawn. Despite all that time and effort, you may still end up with a less-than-perfect yard.
That’s completely natural. The hot, arid climate of the southwest wasn’t meant to support water-intensive grasses and trees, and you need to water frequently to keep it lush and green. The love of greenery that drive many Arizona homeowners to try to recreate the picturesque lawns of more temperate climates in the deserts of Arizona has slowly been replaced by the feeling that it’s really not worth the time, effort and money involved – especially if you have a big yard. In Arizona, the average lot is about 7,000 square feet. That’s a lot of watering and mowing.
The good news is that you can still get that beautiful green manicured lawn without all the hassle and maintenance. Many homeowners are turning to synthetic lawns, often combined with xeriscaping, as an option that combines the best of both worlds – a low-maintenance, water-conscious effort that still provides a wonderful splash of green in a desert climate.
Artificial Grass is excellent for home lawns, dog runs, kids play areas, and rooftop patios. And it goes without saying that it is really the only option for putting greens – unless you’d like to spend your savings on maintenance.
What is Artificial Grass?
Artificial Grass is made of polypropylene (sometimes polyethylene and urethane) fibers of various heights and widths designed to look like real grass. It’s woven into a permeable mesh to allow water to soak through to the ground below. This is all laid on top of a permeable base layer that’s landscaped to the homeowner’s specifications.
The artificial grass is secured at the edges and then infill is laid over the grass to help it stand up and provide a more natural look. Silica sand, crumb rubber, and sometimes even thatch are used to accomplish this. Our personal favorite, and one we recommend for pet owners especially, is Zeofill.
Previously, artificial grass was known to be hot in the sun. A lot has happened since this invention of Astroturf. With the CoolBlade technology available today, artificial grass stays much cooler, and is fine to walk on even in the hot summer months. However, you may still find that’s it’s warmer than natural grass.
Let’s Talk Numbers: Comparing Costs Between Artificial and Natural Grass
Artificial grass is an investment that requires a big cost upfront – $5 to $20 per square foot here in Arizona. But like most investments, it pays off in the long run.
Natural sod is much less expensive to have installed – about 14 to 60 cents per square foot. But the real cost is hidden in the maintenance and upkeep. We’re only going to include the costs we can put a real dollar value on for this comparison, but your time is worth something too!
Okay, so let’s assume you have a 1,000-square-foot yard, and you want artificial turf for all of it. That’s pretty small for Arizona, but most people also won’t install artificial turf on every square foot of their yard.
Here are your costs for the first year:
|Installation ($7.00/sq. ft.)
And here are the annual costs for each:
|Watering (lawn only)
|Watering (2.5 gal/sq.ft. weekly = $22/month)
|Lawn Service (Bi-weekly, $60/month, 12 months)
What does an artificial lawn cost? With these calculations, an artificial lawn will break even around 6 years. After that, it’s saving you $984 every year. You can expect modern artificial lawns to last around 15 years – and that’s a conservative estimate. So, in the end, you’ll be saving money by going with an artificial lawn. If your current water bill is higher than $30 per month, then you may see that return-on-investment even sooner.
If cost-savings is your main concern, then give us a call for a quote to make sure your numbers are accurate. We’ve chosen a high-quality grass for this estimate, but not the very top end. The more square footage you have, the higher the initial cost and the longer it will take to pay off, but you’ll also be saving more each year on lawn maintenance and water usage. Typically, Arizonans spend about 75% of their water usage on lawn irrigation, so use that as a starting point when looking at your total water bill to get an idea of monthly cost savings. We’ve heard some customers outside of Phoenix with larger yards say their water bill is as high as $100 in the summer months.
In order to make this a fair cost comparison, we’re assuming that you’re trying to keep your natural lawn looking as good as synthetic grass – which means hiring a lawn man or maintenance company. You can of course maintain it yourself, but your time is probably worth at least as much as your lawn care team’s time, unless you just take pride in doing it yourself.
We’re also taking into account water usage from overseeding – a common practice among those who value a manicured lawn, hence watering 12 months a year (you’ll need less water in winter, we’ve just averaged it out as one cost per month for simplicity). In case you’re not familiar, overseeding is the practice of sowing Rye grass in the winter when Bermuda grass goes dormant, to keep your lawn looking good year-round. In order to truly keep your grass on par with artificial lawn and get a real cost comparison, you’d need to overseed. There are usually some minor costs with seeding, which aren’t included here.
What Kind of Maintenance do Artificial Lawns Require?
Artificial lawns are low-maintenance, but they’re not no-maintenance. If you have pets, your lawn will require hosing down after urine and pooping. And you no longer have the option of leaving pet messes to decompose, pet poop will just get worse the longer you leave it. We provide optional zeofill
If you have an especially stinky animal, or just a whole lot of fur babies, you may want to invest in a pet-wash system like Wysiwash, BioTurf or SimpleGreen – but these will set you back less than $200.
If you have trees, they’ll still require raking or leaf-blowing, but nothing that requires hiring a maintenance man.