Our neighbors have just installed an artificial grass lawn, and to my surprise they started watering it! But is this really necessary?
Artificial grass does need watering, to wash away dirt, soil, leaves and pollen that accumulate over time. Fake grass will start to smell if not regularly washed, and will also get too hot in the summer for children, guests and pets if you don’t use water to cool it down.
Let’s take a look at this topic in greater detail, and discover exactly why your fake grass does actually need watering…
Should You Water Artificial Grass?
You don’t need to water artificial grass in the same way that you have to keep a real lawn hydrated. After all, it’s not like fake grass will dry out and die. But… if you want to keep your artificial lawn looking good (and smelling fresh), it’s a good idea to water it from time to time.
A more accurate description would be to clean or wash your grass, rather than water it. If you have pets, they may occasionally soil your artificial lawn, or you may get dirt or soil on it from the beds. It will also rinse away dust or pollen that may gather in the grass over time.
Unlike real grass, fake grass can stain, so you’ll need to wash this off in case it discolors the nylon, polypropylene or polyethylene blades of grass.
How Often Should You Water Artificial Grass?
If you’re using your artificial lawn a lot, a quick spray once a week with the hose should be enough to keep it in top condition. Before you wash it, brush it first to gather up fallen leaves and other debris. This is easier to sweep away when it’s dry.
Unlike a real lawn, we’re not talking a good soaking here. It’s more like a gentle rinse to keep it clean, so you’re not using too much H2O on your fake grass.
As we mentioned earlier, you’ll also have to be vigilant for stains. Don’t let the grill splash grease on your grass as that’s harder to remove.
If any grease, drink spills, pet urine, dropped ice creams, sun block and so on lands on your lawn, wash it as soon as you can with soapy water. If you think of it more as a carpet than a lawn, you won’t go far wrong.
Why Do They Spray Water On Artificial Turf With Sprinklers?
If artificial grass can’t die, why do fake turf pitches and gardens use sprinkler systems? As well as the reasons we mentioned above (a fresh appearance and odor, hygiene, stain removal and so on), turning a water sprinkler on the grass helps to keep it cool.
Fake grass is notorious for soaking up heat. Synthetic lawns get far hotter than real grass, and can be uncomfortable for you and your pets. Give it a good spritz during hot weather to prevent it from becoming too hot. You can also cover your fake lawn during hot weather to keep the worst of the sun away from it.
Synthetic sports fields use sprinklers for the same reason, and also because a slightly wetter surface can reduce injuries. Lubricating the surface can also increase the lifespan of the artificial pitch, by preventing the blades from becoming too brittle and breaking.
So, if you already have a sprinkler system and you’re replacing your lawn (or sports field) with synthetic grass, leave the system in. You’ll probably still need it.
How Does Artificial Grass Drain?
The good news here is that most artificial grass has holes in its backing. You can’t see this through the blades, but it’s there, working away in the background to drain away rain water and the water from your hose or sprinkler system.
It’s also important to prepare the ground before you install a synthetic lawn. The original, natural grass is dug away and replaced by a sub base of aggregate.
Water drains through the holes or mesh beneath the fake grass, then soaks into this aggregate. Some installers also dig channels into the base beneath the synthetic grass.
Are you planning to install your own artificial lawn? Take a look at this short film about how to prepare your yard and install your fake grass.
How Does Artificial Grass Save Water?
Synthetic grass doesn’t need watering (just a bit of washing as we mentioned earlier), so it saves you costly watering bills during warm or dry weather. If a drought is declared in your area, you can even stop your weekly hose-down.
Watering your artificial lawn isn’t essential. You may want to cool it down or keep it free from dirt, debris, and other messes, but you don’t have to. It won’t die if you don’t.
However, a real grass lawn will require extensive watering – so by installing a fake grass lawn you will actually save significant amounts of water in the long run.
Does Artificial Turf Need Maintenance? (Apart From Watering?)
Low maintenance doesn’t mean no maintenance, and you still need to look after your fake lawn. As we discussed earlier, it’s a good idea to water your artificial grass to keep it clean and prevent staining, but what else do you need to do? Here’s the Take A Yard guide to fake grass maintenance.
- Brush or rake the grass regularly. Depending on how many trees or shrubs you have, this may be a daily task in the fall. Stiff brushes and leaf blowers are handy tools for artificial lawns. If it’s become too onerous a job, think about whether you can trim some branches so there’s less overhang above the grass
- That membrane that protects the lawn is great for drainage, but it does mean that weeds can still pop up through the holes or mesh. You can’t weed a fake lawn in the same way as you can a real lawn, as sharp tools will damage the synthetic blades. You can either trim off the tops of the weeds, but this means you’ll have to keep doing it. You can still use a weed killer, but it absolutely has to be a water-based one, or it’ll damage the grass
- We’ve mentioned stains already. Top tip: don’t have your grill or dining table too close to the grass. Stains can be removed with soapy water, spirits, or special synthetic grass cleaner (yes, this exists. Check it out on Amazon)
- You can also buy dedicated, water-based products for algae and moss remover. It’s not impossible that these will grow on your artificial grass. Check it regularly, and treat it if necessary. The key here is to act fast, hence the regular inspections
- Watch out for kids and pets. Both like to dig. Both are naturally messy.
- This isn’t so much maintenance as a warning: be careful with sharp objects. Broken glass, high heels, gardening tools: these things can all damage the lawn. It may be impossible to kill a fake lawn, but just remember that it can’t grow back, either
- Heat isn’t good. Fake grass can get very hot for your feet/pads, which is why watering can be a really good idea in summer. Excessive heat from the grill can cause damage, and fireworks are definitely off the bill. One to watch out for is reflective surfaces, as these can reflect the sunlight and cause localized burning. This isn’t a difficult one to guard against: no BBQ, no fireworks, no outdoor mirrors
- We’ve talked about the sun and heat, but what about winterizing your artificial lawn? It should be protected against frost damage, and actually, the best thing you can do in the winter is to leave it alone. The snow will melt and drain through the backing or membrane, whereas attempting to shovel it away could cause damage. Clear away the top layers if it gets too deep, but don’t risk the synthetic blades by digging into them
To be honest, although I’m tempted by the neighbor’s artificial grass installation, it isn’t something we’ll be following up on.
I love the look of real grass just too much, and mowing the lawn is quite therapeutic!
Plus, with all the maintenance required for fake grass, why not just install the real thing? 🙂
Homeowner and property investor Larry James founded Take a Yard in 2020 to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >