30th May 2023 -

In a society where innovation and sustainable living are more important than ever, laying artificial grass has become a game-changing solution to outdoor design and landscaping. In this article, we uncover everything you should know about artificial grass, helping you make the right decision about what is the best artificial grass for you.

Where is artificial grass used?

Also known as synthetic turf, it has revolutionised the way we approach the design of outdoor spaces. Because of its versatility and durability, you can install fake grass in a wide range of settings. Here are the most common environments to lay an artificial grass lawn. 

Playgrounds

You will often find artificial grass in playgrounds and recreational areas to provide a comfortable and safe surface for children to play on. It offers a cushioned base and reduces the risk of injuries from falls or any other accidents. 

Home lawns

Synthetic turf is commonly used in home outdoor spaces as an alternative to natural grass. It provides a low-maintenance solution for you to enjoy a lush green lawn without regular fertilising, watering and mowing. Plus, artificial grass is compatible with concrete and decking surfaces - find out more with our step-by-step installation guide

Landscaping and community gardens

Landscaping projects use artificial grass to create green spaces in settings where natural grass may be difficult to maintain or grow. It can be used to cover small or large areas, such as rooftops, balconies, gardens, and commercial landscapes.

Sports fields

Artificial grass is extensively used in sports fields, including football/soccer fields, baseball fields, tennis courts, and golf courses. Commonly known as astroturf, it provides a consistent and durable playing surface that can withstand heavy use and varying weather conditions.

Commercial spaces

A wide range of commercial properties, such as shopping centres and hotels, use synthetic turf to enhance their outdoor spaces. It provides a low-maintenance and appealing landscaping solution for high-foot-traffic areas.

Indoor settings

You may spot artificial grass in some indoor environments, such as event venues, sports facilities, and exhibition spaces. It can be used to create an artificial grass wall or artificial grass tiles for aesthetically pleasing and functional surfaces.

Pet-friendly areas

Artificial grass for dogs and other pets is a great option to create a comfortable toilet and playing space. Because of this, pet-friendly artificial grass is simple to clean up and you will not have to deal with muddy paws in your home. Learn more about how to clean artificial grass

Types of artificial grass

A green artificial grass lawn.

Artificial grass is available in various types to suit different applications and preferences. There are 6 common types of synthetic turf you should consider for your outdoor space.

  1. Nylon artificial grass: As a resilient and durable material, nylon is a popular choice for high-traffic areas like playgrounds and sports fields because it can withstand heavy use and tough weather conditions. 
  2. Hybrid artificial grass: Combining natural grass elements and synthetic fibres, hybrid artificial grass typically consists of a base layer of natural grass reinforced with synthetic fibres. It is primarily used in sports stadiums to improve playing conditions and durability. 
  3. Polyethylene (PE) artificial grass: PE is a softer material that provides a natural feel and appearance - you will likely find PE grass in residential settings. PE grass has a realistic aesthetic and is known for its excellent UV resistance.
  4. Coloured artificial grass: In addition to the traditional green colour, synthetic turf is available in a variety of shades, including brown, blue, beige and red. A coloured artificial grass roll can be used for decorative purposes and for creating vibrant landscaping designs. 
  5. Polypropylene (PP) artificial grass: Although less durable than PE or nylon, PP grass is the more economical option. It is often used for decorative or temporary purposes, such as exhibitions and events, rather than long-term installations.
  6. Sports-specific artificial grass: Certain types of artificial grass are designed specifically for sports applications, such as tennis, golf and football. These types of turfs are manufactured to provide optimal traction and performance. 

What is the best type of artificial grass for your garden?

Ultimately, the best type of artificial grass for your garden depends on your personal preferences, price and specific requirements. Because each type comes with its own advantages, you should think about these 6 key points before you buy synthetic turf.

  1. Material: Artificial grass is usually produced from either PP or PE fibres. PE is softer and has a more realistic appearance, whereas PP is more durable and suitable for heavy foot traffic areas. Installing the right artificial lawn depends on your requirements and which one will work the best for your garden.
  2. Density: The density determines how closely packed the grass fibres are. Higher-density grass tends to be more resilient and visually appealing. But the artificial grass cost could prove more expensive.
  3. Pile height: The pile height refers to the length of the grass fibres. Shorter pile heights (around 25-30mm) are easier to maintain and clean, while longer pile heights (over 30mm) require more maintenance but can provide a healthier appearance. 
  4. UV stability: It is important to ensure that the artificial grass you buy has UV stability, meaning it is designed to resist damage and fading from sunlight exposure. This is particularly crucial if your garden receives a lot of direct sunlight.
  5. Backing: The backing of artificial grass is typically made of either polyurethane or latex. Latex-backed grass is more common and generally offers great performance. Polyurethane backing provides further stability and is more suitable for heavy-foot-traffic areas.
  6. Drainage: Be sure to choose synthetic turf with good drainage capabilities, as this will prevent water from pooling on the surface and help maintain a dry and clean garden for you to enjoy.

Which artificial grass underlay materials can you use?

When you select a synthetic turf underlay, it is vital to consider factors such as the level of foot traffic, drainage requirements, intended use, and desired comfort level to choose the most suitable choice. Below are the most common underlay options to consider.

Rubber granules

Rubber underlay is produced using crumb rubber or recycled rubber granules. It helps protect the artificial lawn from excessive wear and tear and offers good shock absorption. Rubber underlays are often installed in sports environments to provide further bounce and support.

Foam padding

Foam underlay is widely used for various settings and provides excellent cushioning. It enhances the overall comfort of the synthetic turf surface and reduces the impact on joints. Foam padding is available in different densities and thicknesses to suit your needs.

Shock pad

Shock pads are specially designed underlays that focus on safety and impact absorption. They are typically used for playgrounds and sports areas to reduce the risk of injuries and provide cushioning. Shock pads are created from various materials, such as rubber or foam.

Woven geotextile membrane

Geotextile membranes are porous fabrics that are placed between the artificial lawn and the sub-base. They prevent weed growth, provide stability, and help with drainage. Woven geotextile membranes are resistant to tearing, making them suitable for high-traffic areas.

Non-woven geotextile membrane

Similar to their woven counterparts, non-woven geotextile membranes are manufactured using fibres which are bonded together. Non-woven membranes are often more affordable than woven alternatives and provide similar benefits such as stability, weed prevention, and drainage enhancement. 

How much synthetic turf and underlay material will you need to buy?

A garden deck chair on an green artificial grass lawn by a sea view.

This will depend on the area of your outdoor space. But when you are working out how many rolls of artificial grass and underlay materials you will need, it is important to think about some crucial points before getting started. By following the steps below, you can confidently calculate the amount of grass and underlay you need. As a general rule of thumb, we recommend you add 5-10% to the total figure should give you some added reassurance to confidently finish the job. 

1. Measure the area

Be sure to measure the width and length of the area where you want the artificial lawn. As an example, we will say it is 10 metres in length and 5 metres in width. Multiply the width by the length to find the total area. In this example: 10 metres x 5 metres = 50 square metres.

If your outdoor space is an irregular shape (for example, triangular or has curves and slopes) you may find it easier to break the space into sections for measuring. Measure the longest side of each section first, then multiply the length and width to calculate the square footage.

For a triangular outdoor garden shape, use the area = 0.5 x base x height formula. 

2. Determine the underlay requirement

The amount of underlay material you will need depends on the type and thickness you choose. Make sure you check the product specifications before you buy. For this example, we will assume the underlay provides 2 square meters of coverage per unit.

3. Calculate the number of underlay units

Once you have chosen the required underlay material, divide the total area by the coverage per unit to find the number of underlay units needed. In this example, 50 square metres / 2 square metres per unit = 25 units of underlay.

But for irregular outdoor shapes, you may need to use additional underlay material if the area requires additional support and levelling. Using extra underlay material for irregular-shaped areas can also help to facilitate proper drainage. 

4. Determine the artificial grass requirement

Synthetic turf is typically sold in rolls with a specific width, such as 2 metres or 4 metres. With this in mind, you should double-check the width of the synthetic turf you choose to buy. 

5. Calculate the length of artificial grass

After checking the width measurement, divide the total area by the width of the artificial grass roll to find the required length. For this example, if the width is 2 metres, then 50 square metres / 2 metres = 25 meters of artificial grass length needed.

With irregular shapes, divide the space into smaller sections and multiply the width by the length. If the width does not perfectly match the width of your section, you should either add a small margin for trimming or round up to the nearest full width.

Can you put sand under artificial grass?

Using sand as an underlay when you lay your synthetic turf is not recommended. Although sand can be used for natural grass as a base material, it is not suitable for 4 primary reasons. 

  1. Maintenance and weeding: Sand can serve as a breeding ground for weeds and other plants, requiring frequent maintenance to keep the area weed-free. This additional maintenance can prove to be labour-intensive and time-consuming.
  2. Drainage issues: A proper drainage system is required for artificial grass to prevent water accumulation and ensure efficient water flow. Sand does not provide adequate drainage, which can potentially cause damage and lead to water pooling on the surface. 
  3. Comfort and cushioning: It is often installed with an underlay or an infill material to provide cushioning and improve comfort underfoot. Unlike dedicated underlay materials, sand does not have the same cushioning properties and may not provide acceptable shock absorption. 
  4. Stability problems: Sand does not offer a solid foundation and adequate stability. It tends to shift and settle over time, which can lead to an uneven surface and potentially cause the artificial grass to lose its original appearance and shape. 

Explore our products and create your dream artificial grass garden

If you are a professional artificial grass installer or keen DIYer, buy artificial grass accessories and products from Building Materials Nationwide. You will instantly feel assured by the high-quality materials we have to offer.

Fast UK delivery options are available on all orders, so you can buy with confidence that your orders will arrive on time at the right location. If you are a landscaper or gardener you can sign up for a Building Materials Nationwide trade account.

Our trade accounts give you access to your personal trade account manager who can arrange your deliveries and find the best products and materials for the job. Also, if you need more time to pay for your orders, our credit trade accounts offer flexibility to help you to spread the cost.

Call us for a friendly chat or sign-up online to use your account straight away.