What is Artificial Grass?
Most of us are already somewhat familiar with artificial grass in some capacity. A variety of sports fields use artificial grass instead of natural grass specifically because it is much easier, and cheaper, to maintain. That said, most people are probably unaware of what artificial grass actually is. Essentially, this product is a firm, yet flexible, base – or backing – through which synthetic fibers are threaded. This provides the look and feel of natural grass without the maintenance or stationary quality.
Who Needs Artificial Grass?
There are a surprising number of people who are liable to benefit from artificial grass. The most likely consumer of this product are people with a dog who lives in a major metropolitan city. Because urban areas are often entirely paved over aside from a few select pockets, having your own artificial grass can make letting a dog use the restroom a much easier and quicker process than walking a mile or more. Of course, people who live in drought-stricken areas with strict water use limits are also liable to find artificial grass a good purchase.
How Do You Choose Artificial Grass?
Once you have decided that artificial grass is right for you, figuring out which one to purchase can be a fairly difficult and confusing task. With so many options available, it can take a lot of research to figure out what sets one apart from another. That is why we have put together a list of the 5 best artificial grass products, highlighting what situation each one is most suited for. Then we provide a helpful buyer’s guide, so you can find the best artificial grass for your needs.
Best Artificial Grass of 2018
|Product||Pile Height||Sq. ft||Weight||Backing|
|Artificial Grass Wholesalers|
|375 - 1500||47, 64, 88 oz||Polyurethane|
|Pet Zen Garden||1 3/5"||3 - 304||70+ oz||Rubber|
|LITA||1 3/8”||8 - 1066||70 oz||Polyurethane|
|iCustomRug||1 1/4"||16 - 204||Rubber|
|Synturfmats||1"||6 - 105||Rubber|
1. Artificial Grass Wholesalers Artificial Grass Pet Turf – Best Quality Artificial Grass
Artificial Grass Wholesalers is actually the residential and commercial division of Artificial Turf Supply. Regardless how the corporate business structure breaks down, the ultimate takeaway should be that this company is one of the most well-known and well-respected makers of artificial grass. As a company that deals exclusively with artificial grass and makes a wide variety of different types to suit specific needs, it should come as no surprise that Artificial Grass Wholesalers produces the best performing artificial grass on our list.
That said, there needs to be a clear understanding that this artificial grass actually comes in a few grades of quality. The lowest grade of 47 oz is actually still on the high end of the low-grade artificial grass category. However, the high grade of Artificial Grass Wholesalers artificial grass is 88 oz – 8 full oz heavier than most other companies’ “high grade” of artificial grass. Still, as one of the industry leaders, Artificial Grass Wholesalers goes one step further and offers an even better model of artificial grass in their “premium” line.
How to install Artificial Grass
2. Pet Zen Garden Premium Artificial Grass – Best Price Artificial Grass
Zen Garden is a brand of artificial grass manufacturers that generally focus on the budget-minded consumer market. Unlike some of the other companies that we reviewed, this brand does not offer too terribly many different types of grasses, though they do provide numerous sizes. That said, Zen Garden does have a premium and elite version, though the sizes for those are far more limited.This particular product from Zen Garden is definitely the most budget-friendly artificial grass that we reviewed – though the difference in price is not significant. That said, it does offer a few features that might make it the more attractive option. For instance, this artificial grass is backed by rubber instead of urethane. While rubber is inherently less durable than urethane and is at far more risk of degradation when exposed to water, it is also far more comfortable to actually walk on.
Beyond the backing, this artificial grass is also notable for its pile in a couple of ways. First, this is the tallest base model pile for artificial grass on our list – though there is a premium version we saw which is taller. On top of the pile height, this artificial grass also features two layers, both short and curly as well as long and straight, to provide a more natural look that requires less infill. Even better, the Zen Garden uses a 4 tone color scheme which provides a further lifelike look to the artificial grass.
That said, the budget-friendly element definitely makes an appearance over the long run. While this is actually one of the better artificial grasses we saw at the outset, its long-term viability leaves a bit to be desired. Beyond the limited lifespan of the rubber backing, the grass fibers are not the most durable are known to shed fairly rapidly, making this a poor choice for heavily trafficked areas. On top of that, the blended piles do not always provide a uniform look even weeks after installation.
3. LITA Realistic Deluxe Artificial Grass – Most Realistic Artificial Grass
LITA is actually a brand owned by the company Altruistic Grass. While altruistic grass may not have the same cache as some of the other companies’ products we reviewed, they have at least been making artificial grass for 2 decades. In that time, they have found a solid formula for artificial grass that puts them a step above most for indoor uses.
This ultimately begins with the threading of the artificial grass. LITA makes it a point to provide a double layer, but not only do they offer dual layers, they also mix the thread materials.
This allows the artificial grass to provide a fairly soft feel to the touch while also having a bit more strength. For use indoors – where high traffic is likely – this is a must.
Beyond the threads, this artificial grass is one of the less expensive products that we reviewed which is what you would expect for an artificial grass that is used indoors and subjected to high traffic. Chances are, you will have to replace indoor grass sooner than outdoor grass – regardless the starting quality. Beyond the cost, the pile height is also more suitable for indoor use. While you generally want a taller pile than the 1 3/8” that LITA provides, that is not the case when used indoors where the additional height adds nothing to the experience.When used outdoors, this artificial grass is not terrible, but it is nowhere near the top of our list. For one, this artificial grass has a tendency to get significantly hotter than some of the other products we reviewed. This means that it will not be appreciably cooler than whatever surface it is covering up. That said, the artificial grass is at least UV protected, so you do not have to worry about unsightly discoloration.
4. iCustomRug Synthetic Artificial Grass – Most Durable Artificial Grass
If the name does not tip you off, iCustomRug does not actually specialize in artificial grass. In fact, this company does not even try to sell artificial grass in that context. Instead, this brand specializes in indoor rugs and actually markets their artificial grass as a rug. That is fine because iCustomRug has still managed to set the bar a bit higher than most by producing the most durable artificial grass that we saw.
Still, being a manufacturer of high-end rugs, and especially because this product is actually a niche model for the company, it only makes sense that the iCustomRug is a bit more expensive than most – and this is before considering how durable the product is. Still, one of the disappointing qualities of this artificial grass is that the pile is only 1 1/4” tall. This is actually the second shortest on our list, though it makes a bit more sense from an aesthetic perspective. Keep in mind, this artificial grass is actually intended to cover an outdoor deck rather than a yard.
However, being intended for the porch, it is also far more likely to have to heal with heavy foot traffic than artificial grass that is simply a substitute for the yard.
Regardless, iCustomRug definitely put their all into this product and the veritable laundry list of protections and treatments show. First, this is the only product on our list that is 100 percent Olefin UV stabilized. This allows the polypropylene thread to retain its color far better than the thread material otherwise would. Using polypropylene also has the advantage of resisting water and other forms of moisture better than most which is only enhanced by stain-resistant and mildew-resistant treatments.
5. Synturfmats Artificial Grass Carpert Rug – Best Artificial Grass for Dogs
Synturfmats does not necessarily produce the absolute best performing artificial grass that we reviewed, but that is not actually the company’s goal. Instead, this brand focuses more on manufacturing a durable outdoor artificial grass that can stand up to plenty of natural abuse. Case in point, this artificial grass is in a large part designed to be used for pets and children.
This is apparent in a couple ways, but one of the most important comes in the form of what this product actually lacks. This is the only artificial grass that we reviewed which is certified VOC free. VOCs, or volatile organic chemicals, are common byproducts of oxidation with many synthetic materials. The smell of new furniture, a new car, and even some older types of paint are all indicative of VOCs. This list also extends to include carpet and many brands of artificial grass. The problem is that VOCs have been shown to be carcinogenic, increasing the risk of cancer. As such, if you are looking for artificial grass safest for children and pets, this is a good place to start.
That said, this company does not necessarily go the extra mile to make its artificial grass especially appealing in other ways. For instance, the pile height of the Synturfmats is only 1” – by far the shortest on our list and barely tall enough to qualify as the minimum acceptable limit. Beyond the shortness of the pile, the backing of this artificial grass is also especially thin which can lead to the grass constantly shedding without significant infill.
The pile of the artificial grass refers to the shape and length of the grass fibers. Generally, the longer the fibers the better, though certain needs may actually be better suited for shorter fibers. For instance, if you are building a putting green at your home, you will want to opt for the shorter fibers as that more accurately replicates the length of the blades of grass on a golf course putting green. Conversely, if the artificial grass is more for show than use, you will likely only need the long fibers to provide the look of a healthy yard.
The height of the pile is generally seen as one of the defining characteristics of artificial grass quality. Essentially, the taller the fibers the higher quality the artificial grass. That said, there are some general standards in regards to pile height. For instance, it is highly unlikely that you will find too many types of artificial grass with a pile below 1”. On the flip side, it is uncommon for artificial grass pile to exceed more than 2” – though, part of this is due to the fact that more than 2” will begin to encroach upon the “unkempt” look.
This is considered the lowest grade of pile type. This type of pile will rarely exceed more than 1” to 1 1/4” in height. On top of that, the grass will have a tendency to remain flat or curled even once the tract of artificial grass is laid flat and brushed. In general, this type of artificial grass pile is reserved either for situations where the pile’s height need to be short or when you simply want to cover up a bare area without much concern over the aesthetics.
This is the next grade of artificial grass pile and is far more natural looking than the short and curly type. This pile will be at least 1 3/8” long but will often exceed 1 1/2” or more. Keep in mind, once you reach 2” in pile height this generally considered the “premium” level of pile and you will likely have to pay significantly more for it. This type of pile will look great and natural from a distance, but once you get closer, the uniformity of it will clue observers into its artificial nature.
This is considered the highest grade of artificial grass and is really just a blending of the first two grades into a single product. There are a couple of reasons to do this. First, having both long, dark green fibers, as well as short curly fibers, give the grass a more natural look that may be able to full onlookers even upon closer inspection. On top of that, the blended pile is generally more durable to being pulled out and responds better to heavy traffic. Finally, the dual pile blend will require less infill – potentially none at all.
The color of the artificial grass is important depending on its purpose. If you are trying to replace actual grass and provide your lawn a natural look, then this quality should be high on your list of considerations. On the other hand, if you are simply looking to provide a suitable substitute for a play area or for pets to use the restroom, the color is likely not that big of a deal.
There are a couple of color features that can greatly affect how realistic the artificial grass looks. First, having fibers of varying shades will give the artificial grass a more life-like look due to the natural color variance of real grass. Beyond that, look for artificial grass that is not shiny as this is a dead giveaway that your grass is not natural. That said, shininess is often a result of the fiber used as much as the coloring process.
While the pile height and shape may get all of the fanfare, the true testament to the quality of artificial grass is the fibers. More specifically, you want to know what the fibers are made out of. Depending on their material, the fibers will be softer or pricklier. On top of how they feel, the different materials respond differently to sunlight, water, and general traffic. That said, there is no type of fiber that is simply best for all situations.
Polypropylene, or PP, is considered the lowest quality of fiber for use with artificial grass, though it is not appreciably worse in most respect than polyethylene. One of the primary differences between polypropylene and polyethylene is the finish. Polypropylene has a natural luster to it that is similar to crystal in appearance. For many applications, this actually makes polypropylene the preferred material, but when you are trying to replicate a naturally dull or flat color it comes off as looking fake. This material is also stiffer than any of the others and will feel more prickly on the skin. That said, polypropylene is by far the best material used for artificial grass in a setting where it is likely to get wet often.
As mentioned, polyethylene, or PE, is fairly similar to polypropylene in most physical characteristics, but some of the few differences make this material better for specific situations. For instance, polyethylene is the most naturally UV resistant materials used for artificial grass fibers. While pretty much every material used in artificial grass will be treated with a UV protective coating, polyethylene will respond better over time than either polypropylene or nylon. On top of that, polyethylene sits in the middle ground in terms of softness. It is far more pliable than polypropylene and feels softer to the touch. It is also more water-resistant than nylon, though not as much as polypropylene.
Nylon is considered the premium fiber for artificial grass for a couple reasons, but it also ultimately comes with some legitimate limitations. In terms of the good, nylon is by far the softest material used for artificial grass, though it is also the only material used that is not technically a plastic. Nylon is also the most durable material used and can handle heavy traffic the best. That said, nylon is the most susceptible to UV degradation and will be more prone to changing color in the sunlight regardless of protection applied. Nylon is also the least water-resistant material used and will take longer to dry out. That said, nylon absorbs color better and is easier to make look natural.
The backing of the artificial grass is important for a couple reasons. For one, the material will ultimately help determine the durability of the artificial grass as the fibers are ultimately fastened to it. That said, you will need to consider how wet you expect your artificial grass to get because the two primary materials will respond differently. The consideration when it comes to the backing is feel. Basically, how firm is the surface and how does it feel to walk on. Unfortunately, these two factors are often at odds with one another where the more durable backing material is also the firmer.
Urethane is by far one the most common materials used for artificial grass backings, and it is not hard to see why. This material is by the most durable out of the materials used in virtually every category. In terms of traffic, urethane can handle far more weight and more regular applications of weight without losing its structural integrity. On top of that, urethane is also far more resistant to water and will not suffer any ill effects from constant exposure. That said, urethane is also the stiffest material used for artificial grass backing and provides little to no rebound.
Rubber is not nearly as common an artificial grass backing material as urethane for a number of reasons. That said, rubber has one big advantage over urethane that makes it a better choice for certain circumstances: feel. Ultimately, rubber is a much softer material than urethane which allows it to provide a bit of rebound when stepped on. Aside from the fact that this ultimately feels better when walking it also makes artificial grass backed by rubber the superior choice for use with children. That said, rubber is naturally biodegradable and does not respond well to water. As such, if you use rubber backed artificial grass, make sure it has excellent drainage.
The best artificial grass will be different things to different people and will depend primarily on where you intend to install it. The best grass for use outdoors where it needs to be able to handle the elements but is unlikely to see as heavy of foot traffic is not the best artificial grass that will be indoors where it will see plenty of foot traffic but be completely protected by the elements.
If you are looking for artificial grass that can provide both a beautiful appearance as well as a quality performance, we recommend the Artificial Grass Wholesalers. Keep in mind, this is specifically focusing on their premium model with its impressive 2” pile, though their 88 oz model is still a cut above the rest.
If you need something a bit more specialized, the LITA is an excellent option for use indoors. The use of blended fibers and blended materials provides this artificial grass with a great balance between durability that can handle heavy foot traffic and softness of touch. Though its pile may only be 1 3/8”, this actually works in its favor in an indoor setting where tall pile does not provide additional advantages.