Artificial Grass Lawn (Would You Ever?)

I’m still steadily working on my dining room, and at this point, I’m feeling like the trim and moulding will never get finished. All of the installing, wood filling, sanding, and caulking is such a long process. There’s a LOT of trim in that room! 🙂

While I’m spending so much time working in that front room, I also do a lot of looking out the window at my pathetic front yard, and dreaming about the day that I’ll actually get to do some landscaping out there and have a front yard (and front exterior) that I’m proud of. The front of our house looks pretty awful and neglected right now. I don’t have a recent picture with the new dining room windows, but everything else still looks pretty much the same as it did in this picture…

Of course, we have big plans. I want to completely redo the entire front porch, add larger gables, replace all of the siding, and possibly replace all of the stone with brick (or just get rid of it and do siding on everything). This isn’t exactly what I want, since I want my house to have a more traditional look rather than a Craftsman look, but this is the general idea…

I have no idea when we’ll be able to do that major remodel on the front. Matt wants to hold off on any (more) major remodels until we have the house paid off completely, which we’re thinking might be the end of next year. But until then, I can at least do some inexpensive upgrades on the front porch area, and then focus on some landscaping.

But to be quite honest, I’m not really in a big hurry. And the reason is because as soon as I spend money on landscaping, then I’ll need to spend time and money on upkeep. As long as it’s just completely neglected, I can continue to tell myself, “Oh, that’s okay. I just haven’t gotten to it yet, but it’ll be beautiful one day!” 🙂 But even when I do get around to landscaping my lawn, I still don’t want to have to spend a lot of time and money on upkeep. Have you ever looked at the statistics on what Americans spend for lawn care and maintenance? The numbers are staggering! Here are a few interesting facts.

–> The average homeowner spends 150 hours a year maintaining their lawn.

–> Nearly 80 million pounds of pesticides are used on lawns in America each year. Homeowners use up to 10 times more chemical pesticides per acre on their lawns than farmers use on crops.

–> Americans spend about $45 billion per year on lawns — installation, care, maintenance.

–> Landscape irrigation in the U.S. accounts for approximately one-third of all residential water use, totaling nearly 9 billion gallons per day.

–> Lawnmowers cause more than 74,000 injuries each year, with about 5000 of those being injuries to children.

I don’t know about you, but some of those numbers just boggle my mind! What is it with our obsession with our lawns? And this continual quest for the perfect lawn is like a hamster on a wheel. It’s one of those things that’s never “finished.” You have to continue, year after year after year, with the money and the time and the maintenance, or it’ll all die and all of the time and money you spent will be for naught.

So I’ve really, seriously considered this information when thinking about how I want my front yard to look. I’ve done quite a bit of reading on xeriscaping, which is where you rely on drought-tolerant plants and plants native to your area so that your lawn requires little to no irrigation at all. For me, the word “xeriscape” often brings images of lots of pavers, gravel, and cactus. But many xeriscaped yards (depending on where you live, of course) can be filled with lots of green and color.

Contemporary Landscape by Toronto Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Home Garden Solutions

That particular example is a bit much for my taste, but it shows how a xeriscaped yard can be really colorful and green. It’s all about finding plants native to your area that thrive in your climate without the need for additional watering. That idea intrigues me, but so far I’ve only done general reading (and looking at lots of pictures on Houzz), but I haven’t gone so far as to look into plants that would work in my area, or to talk to any local nurseries about their suggestions.

I do want to do some xeriscaping in my front yard, but I don’t really like the yards that are just completely filled with plants. And while I do want some hardscaping mixed in (pavers and such), I don’t want an entire yard filled with hardscaping. So I do want some grass in there. It’s just what I’m accustomed to, and it’s what I like. It doesn’t have to be much, but I do want a good mix of plants, hardscaping, and grass.

So I’ve also been looking into artifical lawns. I know that “artificial lawn” brings images of cheap, plastic green carpet-type stuff, but artificial lawns have come so far in the last decade or so!

Contemporary Landscape by Tempe Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Coffman Studio

Contemporary Landscape by Newport Beach Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Studio H Landscape Architecture

Traditional Landscape by Dalton Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers SYNLawn

Contemporary Patio by Brooklyn Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Outside Space NYC Landscape Design

Modern Landscape by Denver Design-Build Firms West Standard Design Build

Contemporary Pool by Dallas Garden & Landscape Supplies Conservation Grass

Eclectic Landscape by Dallas Garden & Landscape Supplies Conservation Grass

To be quite honest, I’m really liking the idea of mixing in some artificial grass into my landscape plan for my front yard (and possibly back yard). The idea of artificial grass seems so strange to me, especially when I have a hard time getting past the images of the awful stuff from decades ago. But it’s really come so far, and some of it looks so good now! And there are so many to choose from. One company that I looked at had over 60 different varieties to choose from, with varying shades of green, various textures, different mixes of greens and browns to keep things looking realistic and not too perfectly solid green. Over 60 choices! And that was just from one company.

What are your thoughts on artificial lawns? Too strange for your taste? Or is the no-maintenance thing something that would win you over? Can you imagine having beautiful, green grass that requires no watering, no maintenance, no lawnmowers or edgers, no fertilizers, no pesticides, and no time out of your busy schedule for weekly maintenance?

That idea sounds amazing to me. It’s a really big upfront cost, but once it’s done, it’s done. That sounds good to me!


*To clarify, I realize that artificial grass does NOT equal a yard that requires zero maintenance ever from now to the end of time. I’ll still have trees (that drop leaves), flower beds, vegetable gardens, and much more that needs regular (weekly, if not daily) maintenance. I realize artificial grass needs to be hosed down periodically and maintained in general, etc. What is does NOT require, and what appeals to me, is regular (weekly or twice a week) maintenance to KEEP IT ALIVE, which most often seems like a losing game in central Texas in the heat of summer, unless you have lots of money that you can and want to pour into it. I don’t love taking care of lawns, and trying to keep them alive. If you do, that’s great! This is an option I’m considering FOR ME. I’m not mandating that YOU need to get rid of your lawn, and or even implying that if gardening/lawn work is your hobby, then you’re wasting your time and money.



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  1. I just moved out of California and so experienced the drought there. The thing with artificial lawns (and there were a few in my neighborhood) is that if everyone’s lawn dies out from a severe drought and water restrictions, it’s really easy then to see who has the artificial one! Lol. I did like the photo from newport beach designs because they used a drought tolerant garden with the stripe of grass around the paving stones.

    1. I live in the High Desert of northern Los Angeles County, and would love to have a xeriscaped front and rear yard. I’d include many drought resistant flowering shrubs and indigenous plants as well as pavers. In the back yard I have a pool, deck off the upstairs master bedroom, and bricked patio. I love the look of both the Toronto cottage garden and the Newport Beach mix of rock, plants and concrete pavers. Unfortunately, as you said, the initial cost is high and since we just finished a kitchen remodel, it will be a while before we can take on another big job.

  2. 🙂 One thing we in upstate NY do not have to worry about is watering our lawns. We have to mow every three or four days once the snow is melted. And no chemicals!! Just makes it grow even faster! If you don’t have a large yard, or are planning on a fair amount of hardscape and/or lower maintenance plantings, and the artificial looks more grass-like, then go for it. Who would want to be out in the Texas heat doing a ton of yard work? At least with our snow, once you plow your driveway, you can stay inside and watch the snow come down and cover the yard. 🙂

  3. Maybe you can obtain samples of your top 3-5 favorites and set them outside. See which ones hold color and overall integrity. And as a very popular blogger with “cred” maybe get it free for advertising?
    I like the idea of mixed xeriscape and lawn. Texas is brutal on grass so I think you’re on to something here.

  4. While the photos are amazing, I would be interested to see how they look after a few seasons of leaf removal, bugs, critters, and mildew. Does it have to be power washed to keep it clear of debris? I’m skeptical, but maybe the manufacturers/installers have addressed the issue of wear.

  5. This is a foreign concept to me up in the upper Midwest. I know my husband wouldn’t know what to do with himself it he didn’t have to take care of a lawn. He truly loves it and takes pride in it. Of course, we don’t have the heat or water conditions that TX has, so we might feel differently then.

  6. Interesting concept. I live in WV. I also LOVE gardening. If I were not a nurse I would be a landscape designer! I tend to plant perineum native plants, peonies, hydrangea, lilac, rhododendron. Theses take little maintence. Then I fill in with lilies, liriope, Oh and I love forsythia! My grass grows with little work and I mow 2 times per week. I would totally use the new grasses on an area where I would need to water my grass. I like your low maintenance idea. How would you incorporate the lage area behind the house? Would you just have a bit of lawn and hardscape and let the rest go natural?

    1. I’m still not sure what I want to do with our back yard, but I do know I want as little lawn as possible, whether it’s real or artificial. I want lots of hardscaping, and in the very back is where we’ll put our veggie gardens and chicken coop(s), eventually. I have an idea of how I want those arranged, and it includes no grass at all.

  7. I think the beauty in your example pictures is a) the lawn is new and not yet “dirty” with leaves (one of the reasons I enjoy mowing is the fact that I get rid of all that “dirt” in one go :)) and b) most of the examples have the lawn in a very defined space. Your front lawn will be, I suppose, much more open and has much more space?! I would not bring myself to consider artificial lawn in my garden (even though we actually have a very confined space it would work in) as I like the feeling of real grass under my feet. I can understand the urge to minimize lawn space in order to avoid the upkeep, though, and love the idea of the xeriscaping!! I’m really curious about what you decide – and if it is artificial lawn, how that is going to keep in the Texas sun. What I can understand is the urge not to spend too much on the lawn: Friends of mine started with readily bought lawn (in big rolls) when they moved in, so that the lawn was perfect from day one. But aftr only 2 years, it looked like everybody else’s and needs the same amount of upkeep to keep it nice. So that (rather big amount of) money really only bought 2 seasons of good looks and low maintenance 🙁

  8. We did. Very common in AZ. Had it professionally installed tho, a lot of work leveling and compacting, only issue, and it’s minor–when it’s over 100 degrees in mid-day we have to spray it down if the dog wants to go on it, but he usually heads for the gravel. Your tree roots might be an issue. Need to put possibly planter beds around those.

  9. When I lived in Austin I did my front yard with all native plants and just enough grass. I could cut it with a week whacker.

    Personally I would be happy with NO lawn and just a meadow look but that is difficult to accomplish.

    Austin was very big on native habitats what with the Lady Bird influence. And with mild winters things pretty much look pretty all the time.

  10. We installed artificial grass in our back yard in our last home in AZ. It was awesome to always look out at beautiful looking grass. At first the husband was skeptical but soon realized he did not miss maintaining the irrigation, trimming and mowing on a weekly basis.

    1. How long did you have it? Did the color hold up well in the Arizona sun? Did you have any trees that shed leaves on it in the Fall?

  11. I would do an artificial lawn in a second if it was in the budget! I have so many plans for outside projects (building a deck, pergola, and table/chair set, just to name a few) and lawn work and leaf raking (ugghh, leaf raking!) take precious hours away from those fun projects. I HATE those tasks… I only do it so the neighbors won’t judge my messy yard. If you don’t love lawn care/ gardening and you have the money for a solution that would minimize those tasks, DO IT!

  12. Make sure to getvthe kind that will stay cool. (It costs more) Spend money for good quality and it will be hard to tell til you walk on it…

  13. If artificial lawns are made of the same material as turf fields for sports, then the issue to be aware of is that they magnify the heat while a natural grass field diminishes it. It can be 10-15 degrees hotter on a turf field than on a grass field in the same weather conditions, and the turf can be so hot that you can’t be barefoot on it. So if you want a nice expanse of green to look at, that might not be an issue. But if you want to sit on it and if it will be adjoining your house, that might be different.

  14. First of all, the pictures you show are unrealistic. Do you see people in them? Do you see kids and pets running around? You have to stop looking at top of the line pics and get more realistic. Go out and photograph pics of lawns in Waco in different seasons. That is where you will have your comparisons. Do you have well water? Do you have the ability to dig a well on your property. Many homes in FL have a separate well water which cost them nothing to operate a sprinkler system on the lawn. I have not seen the artificial stuff you put out side. I have bought and used indoor stuff for parties. I do have a friend who lived here in PA. She had six large dogs who’s yard area was disgusting. She had two companies come in to give here a quote for her back yard around the pool , take down the dog run etc, so that the dogs would have the run of the yard with out destroying it. Many rich people in our area have done this. She saw their products at a home show. She lived on a third acre lot. Her house was set back so she had a nice front, but she was not doing the front. The house was three thousand square feet. I am tell you this so you can get an image of how much artificial turf she would need. She also had a large inground pool in the back yard with a spa. There was a good sized paved area all around the pool for chaise lounges, tables, etc. The quotes she got were so astronomical she almost had a stroke. It would have cost in the neighborhood of ten grand to do what she wanted to do. It really was not that much grass. Needless to say, she just had mulch put down in the dog run. I would stick with things that are native to your area. Again, take pictures of gardens that you like and go from there. I do think that sprucing up the foundation in the front and lining the sidewalk would make it more pleaseant looking for now. For me, I leave it to the experts. We had a service that does the feeding and fertilizing when it is supupose to, the cut trim do whatever needs to be done. I also have a girl who loves to garden and she plants flowers and bulb for me in the summer and the fall. Last fall she planted seven hundrend deer resistant bulbs. I am very anxious to see how they come up. This year we will work on the the north side of the house, since it was devesated last yeae byice build up. Blessings

    1. In response to your point regarding children and pets on the turf. There are huge children’s soccer complexes here in the Kansas City metro that have gone to the new artificial turf. So, it can take a good deal of punishment.

      This is not an endorsement of the idea, just another side to the coin.

      Kristi, no doubt there are these type of places in your area and you could check with them.

  15. I would consider artificial grass if I had the choice. Like you said, the new stuff isn’t like the other neon green plastic of yore. Until that time that you get to your front yard though, perhaps some potted plants near the front door would spruce up the place a bit. Just raking around and cleaning up a bit can make a big improvement even in the short term.With potted native plants all you need is a watering can.

  16. Being snowbirds in our AZ home, we have rocks for our landscaping! Makes for minimal care – along with a drip irrigation system (that my husband just replaced) that works from a timer. Pretty easy compared to the upkeep in our NE home!

  17. You might check with a local botanical society, garden clubs and master gardeners in your area on native and low maintenance perennials, shrubs and grasses to get some ideas for your front yard. Many garden clubs offer garden tours for a small cost………I’ve found many wonderful ideas at these. Take your time and enjoy the process. Since I live in southern Wisconsin, we don’t have lots of terribly hot days, so I know I wouldn’t put in artificial turf. Can’t imagine having to garden or maintain a yard in Texas!

    I would be very careful around your beautiful trees………you don’t want to compact the soil in these areas or the trees might die. One small step you could do now is to kill the grass under the tree line out to the drip line, then put in mulch…… daughters in Colorado use “gorilla mulch”……….the fibers of the mulch “knit” together to help hold it in place. Of course, you should check with a well known local nursery about what type of mulch is appropriate in your area…… don’t want anything that will promote bugs or other problems.

    I’m looking forward to your dining room reveal!

  18. I’ve heard that artificial grass can be very expensive, so I think that mixing it with rock and plants and just using it in certain areas would be best. I’ve also read that it can be problematic down south where it gets hot when dogs/cats relieve themselves on it. It just sits on top and begins to smell to high heaven in the heat. Having said all that, we have a lot of zeroscaping and artificial grass around town (I’m in San Angelo, so also in Texas) and it looks really good when it is done right. I’m going to rock part of my yard and have a bit of grass and beds once I have the money because they just raised water prices and we just don’t have enough to keep it alive. I’m with you on ignoring how ugly it is since I can’t do anything about it right now. The good thing is that my neighbors are in the same boat, so it’s a whole lot of ugly around here.

  19. I live in central CA, where xeriscaping is on the rise, as well as artificial turf. It’s been most popular with newer businesses in town. I’ve noticed that some weeds have settled in and popped up on top of some turf, and one area is ligher than others, perhaps from a gopher? Because your yard is so enormous, would imperfections show up more on such a large amount of a.g., or would xeriscaping be “easier” to cover up imperfections in the yard? And yet xeriscaping would create it’s own issues: water zones mainly, and maintenance. It would be REALLY nice to put down a.g. and do minimal maintenance! I’ve been looking into xeriscapinh for the last 1.5 years,a 2nd the more I research, I realize how much we would need to change our sprinkler system COMPMETELY, and feel overwhelmed!

  20. We live in Louisiana……hot and humid most of the year. As I read your post, my brain immediately went to “where would the dog poop?”. Lol! Given that we have a lot of trees in the yard, I had a vivid mental image of me vacuuming the yard instead of mowing it. Nope. Or using a leaf blower. We have hawks, owls, bats, hummingbirds, etc…… so I’m imagining bird poop all over and having to get the hose out to wash the grass. We also have not only roaming cats, the neighbor’s chickens and ducks and wandering dogs that visit our yard but also possums, squirrels, coyotes, the occasional goat and pig…..I once looked out of the window to find a bull looking back at me. So, I’m imagining many kinds of poop to be scooped, disposed of and again with the hose and the washing! I’m also imagining LOTS of mildew….ick!
    As Karen said, I like the feel of real grass under my feet. My husband on the other hand would probably like to have no grass at all…..he does the mowing. Nonetheless, I think we’ll keep the green, growing grass we already have and use the chunk of change that we would have spent on that for some interior remodeling! I’m very interested to see what you do though and, if you get some artificial turf, how well it holds up.

  21. I’ll absolutely do it as soon as I save enough money. I love sitting outside but my skin can’t take the sun and I can’t stand the summer heat. An artificial grass area will allow me to put up a larger sail shade area and not have to worry about the lawn getting enough sun. While I love gardening, I hate mowing so I’d rather be outside gardening, reading, or web surfing on a Saturday morning.

  22. Here in Az, there is lots of artificial grass used , and people love it as they take a water hose and spray it off when needed. It looks real almost except when your neighbor has weeds in his !!

  23. They have artificial grass behind the silos and it looks great. My husband and I touched it to be sure. I would love it on my lawn. I don’t mind flower beds, but I hate dealing with grass and the fertilizing and watering, etc. It will be interesting to see what you decide. I would love to know the price.

  24. Hi, Kristy. When I saw your post about artificial turf, my gut reaction was no! I think other commenters were correct about still needing to rake it, especially if you’re hoping to put it under those big oaks in the front. St. Augustine grass does well in Waco, particularly in the shade, and it only needs mowing once per week during the fastest growing season in the spring. If you have environmental concerns, you don’t need to apply herbicides or pesticides to this grass if it’s getting enough water and sun, and it does a good job keeping the heat down. I guess your dilemma is using extra water versus covering your yard in plastic. If it was me, I’d go for the extra water on a small amount of turf and xeriscape the rest with a ground cover and some larger flowers or shrubs mixed in. The Waco master gardeners are a great resource for help and ideas, and it would probably be helpful to tour some local homes of gardeners who know what they’re doing- most do not want to spend a fortune on lawn care either.

  25. I have no problem with the artificial as long as it has a guarantee from su damage etc. and I can be assured there will not be an issue with animal waste. It’s outside after all and there are birds, bunnies, neighborhood pets etc.
    I think I’d prefer a low growing, hardy ground cover that mimics grass but doesn’t have the constant upkeep.

  26. Boo/yuck to artificial lawns.
    The most beautiful eco-friendly lawns I’ve seen, and hope to soon begin replicating, are those with an abundance of shade trees/evergreens, the lawns beneath “mulched” with the leaves/needles that fall from them.
    In a rental home the last few years, my tree-filled Atlanta neighborhood had a “let the leaves lay” campaign this fall – and a lot of us have. Once it warms up we’ll mow/mulch and continue to let lay what is there rather than raking it up. In June I’ll be moving to the modest family home I recently inherited which sits on nearly an acre of land filled with pine and pecan trees. I plan to add more, and in time, eliminate all but about 10% of the lawn.

  27. Select a local landscape designer and give her your objectives, particularly when you do a major remodel on the front. S/He will provide you with a plan, including a plant list. Get all your ideas and modifications on the table before accepting the plan and paying for it. You can ask for stages and how to protect any plantings from the planned major remodel. It isn’t that much effort to keep up with native plants surrounded by a lot of mulch–pre-emergent is a must to keep your time down. Going it alone is great if you want to experiment around with your garden; I did and was quite happy doing it. But a designer is my recommendation if you aren’t interested in gardening.

  28. I think it’s terrible how many chemicals and fossil fuels get poured out for lawn maintenance. Am I remembering correctly that you had mentioned backyard chickens at one point? Instead of chemicals and fossil fuels, any meat-eating American should be moving chickens and rabbits across their yards in movable pens. They aerate, fertilize, water, remove bugs (in the case of chickens) and will keep the grass short all while providing clean, healthy and all-natural eggs and meat. Rabbits in particular are odorless and noiseless, although a small flock of hens aren’t noisy. Nobody would even know you had rabbits! Their feed to meat conversion is unbeatable. Just wanted to present option number 3. 🙂

    1. Yes, eventually I want the entire back half of our back yard (which is about 1/3 acre) to be filled with veggie gardens, fruit trees, and chicken coops. I want to give the chickens a really large section so that they’re as close to being “free range” as possible wihtout actually having completely free reign over our entire back yard. And I love the idea of movable pens. I’d like to have our gardens arranged in such a way that the movable pens will fit down the rows so that the chickens can do most of the weeding for me. 🙂

      1. Check our Promiseland Farms FB page at They have rolling chicken coops they built themselves. She’s a friend of mine. And I would consider artificial turf in a heartbeat! Just trying to keep grass ALIVE in the Texas summer was an expensive endeavor, let alone having it look good. Mixed in with some great flower/plant beds, it would be awesome. And, who cares if you’re the only one with a green lawn in winter?!

    2. Rabbits are house pets, NOT food. You wouldn’t eat a stray cat that went into your yard, would you??

      And you’ll see that rabbits are as smart, emotional, and friendly as any dog or cat.

      Back to the topic of artificial turf, we are in New York and are looking to install artificial turf in our front yard, maybe also in the back, this spring. We’ve had enough of mowing and edging and watering – 90 degree humidity is weather to stay inside for 🙂

  29. I’m a gardener anticipating the coming of spring and artificial turf is not in my vocabulary, but then again, I don’t live in your zone! Pam Penick is a garden designer/blogger in Austin TX that you might find inspiring. A glimpse of her gardens at and her plant list at She also has 2 books that might be helpful to you “Lawn Gone!: Low-Maintenance, Sustainable, Attractive Alternatives for Your Yard” and to be released soon “The Water-Saving Garden: How to Grow a Gorgeous Garden with a Lot Less Water.”

    1. Great recommendation! I was just scanning through to see if anyone had mentioned Pam’s blog and books. Three years ago, I replaced my lawn with a mix of native and other Mediterranean climate plants suited to my SoCal location and switched the irrigation from sprinklers to drip. I have recirculating water features that are regularly visited by birds and other native wildlife and add a lovely soothing sound to my outdoor areas that look lovely and are easy to maintain. I highly recommend that you invest the time upfront to carefully consider how you want to use your space, what you do and don’t want to see from your windows and when you are outside. There are a number of guides that can take you through that planning process, whether you ultimately decide to use a professional or not. So much to consider!

  30. I live in NM. We are currently remodeling our house too and have neglected the outside. Our house is on a corner lot. The front and side yard is hard-scaped with only larva rock and over grown scrubs. Besides changing it into a more curb appeal xeriscaping I’ll add some repurposed lawn art that we craft ourselves. My greatest wish for our back yard is artificial tuft and a raised vegetable garden and flower small beds. Then I shall enjoy caring for our plant but no exhausting lawn care.

    Since you live in the south too, I think artificial grass makes perfect sense. Go for it!

  31. I could go with artificial turf, but under trees with squirrels and birds, not sure. We used to pour money and back tiring work into our lawn. It would look good for a while and until the weeds and moss came back. We worry less as long as it’s green and kept neat.
    Tired of it taking over so much of our time.
    I would love some great looking artificial shrubs or roses. A friend of mine ran artificial rose in with a vine of sorts she had growing on a trellis, looked pretty I thought.

  32. My father lives in San Antonio and built tracks and football fields before retiring. His back and front yards both have high quality artificial turf. Most of the year, it looks fine. It is a little weird when it is dead summer and everything else is brown and his yard is oddly green. And, as a few others mentioned, you do actually have to water it down periodically because it gets really hot in the summer and just needs it. His main enemy: grackles. They spend a lot of time pooping on the turf in the backyard, and then he has to hose it all down because it won’t absorb into the soil like it would with real grass. It’s definitely not environmentally friendly in terms of affecting habitat for yard critters (no worms for those birds!) but it’s much more low maintenance than grass. Now that I’ve been away from Texas for a decade, I always find it super weird to come back in the summer and see all the green lawns. other places just don’t waste that kind of water! Xeriscpaing all the way!

  33. Lead issues would be my concern. Google artificial turf and child goalies with cancer. Although we live in ca, I would never get it simply because I am not convinced it is lead free

  34. Statistics alone don’t mean much and don’t determine whether something is ‘good’ or ‘not good’. I wonder how many gallons of paint are purchased every year. Or how many DIY painters are injured on ladders. I bet those statistics could also lead us to ask, “what is our obsession with walls and trim?” People want different things, care about different things, and enjoy different things. That’s great. Do with your yard and landscaping what makes sense for you, just as you’ve done in your house. The statistics you cite shouldn’t be the basis for your decision.

  35. I say- if it looks good and it is truly logical to your climate and allows you a comfort level of maintenance and such… GO FOR IT… I live in an HOA dictated community where the greener the grass the better and IMO that is highly overrated. Yeah- it’s pretty and all- but dealing with new builds and poor quality bare minimum soil and the extreme heat we don’t normally deal with in WA state- it’s taken over 2 years to troubleshoot our stupid tiny yard and that’s just because we know what we need to do now. We still have to do it. The tiny yard we embraced and swore we would maintain because it was small and flat. Yeah..I wish I could have more rocks, boulders and a few flowers, nope. Do what makes you happy. I think the alternatives are better than they’ve ever been and if your climate works for it- so be it.

  36. Would I ever? Yup. I’ve mowed 2 1/2 acres and picked up the trimmings for years! Now we live in the Seattle area and deal with moles that destroy your lawns. Last summer we had such hot weather it killed our lawns because we pay for our water and it would have broken the bank. The small areas we have of lawn now, would be perfect for artificial grass! So, yes, yes, and yes!

  37. Frankly, the idea sounds quite appealing! My hubby isn’t a big fan of lawn care and neither am I. He does like gardening, but not mowing. Definitely something to consider! We do wonder how long it lasts, especially in harsher climates.

    1. Why is it ridiculous? I understand it’s not everyone’s thing, but I don’t think it’s ridiculous. Many people have commented that they have artificial grass and love it. A few have sent me pictures, and it’s beautiful.

  38. Hi there- you are now crossing over into my area of expertise! You have a wonderful lot with fabulous huge trees, which gives you great bones. In my blog- LisaEarthGirl- I am all about making gardens manageable and affordable. You could start by defining a huge, freeform island around each tree filled with low maintenance ground cover with a beautiful, wide walkway between up to your front porch. Put in a wide garden garden all around the front of your house- since you are going to update the house exterior in a few years, I would suggest just a few “anchor” plants in strategic spots, and fill in with colorful annuals until the reno. If you have large, nicely defined, mulched beds with ground cover, you would have no need for artificial grass. I’m not a real fan of it because it has some really grungy issues- namely “doggie doo”- does not clean up very easily, and we all have our beloved pets. So I would really go the natural way!

  39. Your house has great potential. Repainting that lovely stonework with some contrast on the trim, with added shutters would transform the place. Fatten up the porch support columns in a Craftsman style would also enhance the front.

    Personally I like the idea of artificial lawns, such as Synlawn, but they can be expensive, esp the pet-friendly stuff. Yes, when there is a drought and everyone else in the neighborhood has dead brown lawns and yours is green….well, the pretty green lawn looks good and everyone else’s yard looks sad. Who cares if it’s artificial?

    I personally happen to favor xeriscaping…I must have liked that one photo better than you did. I think lawns are boring AND take too much labor and money. You’d either have to do it yourself or hire someone.

    Another thing to consider: if your front yard faces south or west –or even just gets one good patch of sunlight much of the day– why not plant a few fruit trees? I don’t know what thrives in TX, but here in Fresno, I have a dwarf citrus hedge along the low (by zoning restrictions) fence on the east side of my yard. These have now grown large enough to block my view of my trashy next door neighbor’s house (along with a full size lemon in front of my living room window that would otherwise give me a view of their disgustingly trashed-up front porch). Advantage….a good harvest of tangerines, lemons, kumquats in the front yard, along with goodies from my pomegranate and pineapple guava bushes. 🙂 Citrus, for me, is relatively low-maintenance and a tree in full fruit is quite beautiful. You’d have to find the easiest fruit trees to grow where YOU are. Dwarf or semi-dwarf trees, or fruiting bushes, would be easiest to harvest. Use drip or micro-spray irrigation on the fruit trees, low growing xeriscape plants as space fillers, pavers and a few patches of pet-friendly Synlawn (or some other comparable product)

  40. After 20 years in AZ I can truthfully say I have seen all the types of artificial turf available. Some of it is fabulous…and so is the cost. It requires blowing off leaves and a thorough weekly hosing. The “prep” work is most important, contouring the ground so it slopes to a drywell and ensuring tree root systems are not damaged. Installing a quality underground piping system (PVC – not that flexible black stuff) to provide water for hosing off the turf and for the drip irrigation for live plants. A conservative estimate for mid-cost turf is $15 per square foot for all of the above. The best artificial turf, with NO foot traffic, will need to be replaced every 15 years or so. (Just the cost of removal of old turf / install of new turf / disposal / labor.) While artificial turf does look great, I prefer real grass or a climate specific no-mow ground cover.

  41. lol, I admit, those statistics don’t scare me from wanting a pretty front yard, which includes green grass! However, I have teenage sons to help maintain said green lawn, and I know that make it easier (for now) for me than others. I have a friend who lives in the high desert in CA and she just replaced her grass with a fabulous artificial one. It looks lush and green and even feels nice under the feet. It is pricey, but with water being limited, and as you pointed out, cost for maintenance and such, I don’t see it as a bad investment over time. I think whatever works best for you is the best decision!

  42. We live in the So. California drought area. Last summer we had pavers and high end artificial turf installed in our small backyard. We love it! No more mowing in the hot summer sun and only have to water our plants. We have a dog who “does his thing” on it. We just water the “grass” down occasionally to get rid of any odor that might be lingering around. No flees either!

  43. I don’t know anything at all about artificial lawns. But I do have a comment about maintaining a yard. I don’t believe it is possible to “avoid” care of the outside of your home. Just like on the inside, once you make it beautiful, you still have to dust, clean, and maintain. It simply comes with the territory of house ownership. But it is possible to create a yard that requires “as little as possible” maintenance. A variety of ground covers are beautiful and require less care than a lawn. And there are bushes, trees and plants native to Texas that require very low maintenance. We like to follow Randy Lemmon’s lawn fertilization schedule with products being carried at Ace. I would recommend that you begin now taking care of your lawn with a good fertilization schedule, while you are waiting to do more involved landscaping. You can purchase the products yourself and pay someone to apply them for you if you prefer. We have lived in our 1/2 acre home 6 years now, and our lawn is beginning to look “adequately” beautiful and the weeds that used to dominate are almost all gone. We live in Texas about 3.5 hours from Waco. I love yard work and consider it my “exercise” to work outside in the Spring and Fall, maintaining my beds. I avoid going out much in the heat of summer and cold of winter. You might find that maintaining a yard is not near as difficult as you are envisioning! Thanks for your wonderful Blog! I enjoy it so much!

  44. Nothing is zero maintenance, no matter how marketers spin it. You will still be maintaining that lawn, you just won’t be mowing it. You will still be watering it, just not for growth, but for odor and appearance. There may be no pesticides used (I cannot remember the last time I used pesticides on my lawn), but think of all the chemicals, energy, and water used to produce the artificial grass and transport it.

    The idea that most Americans are wasting their lives caring for their lawns forgets that people have things they have to do, but often times dedicate their time to things they like to do. I cannot keep houseplants alive to save my life, but my grandmother had a sun room full of plants that she spent hours in, not because she had to, but because she enjoyed it. There is probably a statistic somewhere about how many hours Americans waste on maintenance and renovations, but I think we both agree that the time you spent improving your home is not wasted.

    Artificial grass may have it’s place in some applications, but there are so many options out there for drought resistant plants and grasses out there (check A&M and Tech’s websites for some of that information) that I cannot image a residential lawn would be one of them.

    I have never commented before, but I am so against this idea because of the way you presented it. Grass is bad and is a vacuum into which time and money and water go, but artificial grass is beautiful and wonderful and requires no work. That’s insane. Not all grass is created equal, and neither is artificial grass and you seem far too economical to spend the money required to get artificial grass that would pass as a lawn that has over 150 hours per year spent on it.

    1. For the love of accuracy, I did not “spin” ANYTHING in this post to indicate that yards can ever be zero maintenance. And absolutely nowhere in this post did I say that American are “wasting their lives” caring for their lawns.

      I stated statistics (from the EPA and other sources), I stated that some of those numbers boggle my mind (which they DO…9 billion — with a “B” — gallons of water a day for landscape irrigation…that boggles my mind).

      And considering that I live in Texas, and see homeowners struggling to keep their lawns alive in the hottest parts of the summer, then from MY perspective, it does kind of seem like hamster on a wheel. Some people enjoy the work. That’s great for them. I happen to hate it, and want to find a better solution. I did not ANYWHERE say that grass is bad or somehow inherently evil.

      But again, not one single time in this post did I say that any type of yard would be completely maintenance free. In fact, I said, “But even when I do get around to landscaping my lawn, I still don’t want to have to spend a lot of time and money on upkeep.” That doesn’t mean I think I’ll be able to get away with spending ZERO time and money on upkeep. “Not a lot” and “zero” aren’t the same thing.

      The only time I used “zero” was in regards to IRRIGATION, and there are plenty of xeriscape options that don’t require any irrigation at all. I was just out in our back yard looking at the cactus that is growing there naturally, and has never had any care from me whatsoever, and is thriving, so I know that my ZERO irrigation comment is accurate.

      1. I am not accusing you of being a marketer, but the companies that sell and install artificial turf are absolutely claiming it is zero maintenance. I make this comment after going through the links you posted and looking at several artificial turf companies websites. I hate doing lawn work, so this isn’t something I am taking as a personal attack, but your hamster comment really does imply that those who do take enjoyment in those hours outside working on their lawn are wasting their time. You may not have said those exact words, but that was absolutely my take-away from reading that. The presentation of all these stats did absolutely convey a message of grass lawn = all of these awful things.

        I am familiar with the hot summers and how lawns respond have spent almost 10 years living in the Hewitt area and am now just a short hour south. I was unfortunate enough to live next to someone who did love caring for their lawn (and probably drove up that 150 hour/year which I still think is ridiculous so I really do question the source data the linked book used to arrive at that number) so I was that yellow lawn next to the lush full green lawn.

        But honestly, it sounds like you are looking for a miracle solution for a product that is still relatively new for the residential market. How does the rainfall in Waco, Texas compare to Arizona? California’s water issues have more to do with water management than actual rainfall. How will the increased heat during the summer impact your energy needs which may reduce the lifespan of your HVAC system? How will an increased hardscaped area impact the water run-off that gets sent to sanitation?

        I am sorry if you thought I was implying you where shilling for a company, I did not mean to imply that. But I do seriously question the veracity of some of the sources that you encountered in your research, because they are all selling something– either an idea or a product or a way of life.

        1. “California’s water issues have more to do with water management than actual rainfall.” WHAT? Do you think all of the lakes and reservoirs that have dried up, or the lack of snow melt have to do with mismanagement? Huh? We are currently in the fourth year of drought NOT mismanagement. This means that we have had a period of dryer than normal conditions. Last year our snowpack was measured at 5% of average on April 1st. That is due to drought, not mismanagement.

  45. My sister-in-law lives in a house with a small backyard that has artificial grass and I have to say that it always looks great. You may need to take a leaf blower to it occasionally but that is about it. It even feels nice too. It has been in there for many years of Florida sun, rain, drought, and salt air and still looks great.

  46. Artificial lawns are very popular in Toronto, where I’m from! They look amazing & have proven to be great for saving water in the summer! I especially love the ones with stone walkways in them.

  47. I do not care much for mowing or raking. I also live in a hot, humid climate so I know what that’s like. But I replaced most of the back yard with hardscape, went with xeriscaping where I could, and then hired somebody to mow every other week. Would the St Augustine look better mowed every week? Yes, but I don’t want to pay for that. Also, in my opinion, it is better to put some water into plants and grass than weekly hosing off artificial grass. The plants are better for the environment, taking up carbon dioxide and giving off oxygen.

  48. I say, since you’ve admitted that lawn maintenance isn’t something you relish, artificial turf sounds like a good investment.

  49. I live north of you in Fort Worth, and I’m in the process of figuring out what to do with our yard after a major renovation. I also want to limit maintenance time devoted to the lawn, especially in the heat of the summer. It’s a ridiculous waste of water! I haven’t considered artificial grass – I live in a historic district, and the neighborhood association would probably flip out!

    However, I have found three good sources to be the A&M horticulture website, especially their Texas Star plants, the Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, and the Botanical Research Institute of Texas in Fort Worth. They all provide really solid info on what works in our crazy climate as well as how to conserve water.

    I’m planning to put a brick patio and walkways in our backyard along with some spots with paving stones in mulch. I think I’ll get it down to very little lawn. The front is still mostly lawn, but I’m breaking down and getting a sprinkler system. Even if we only run it once a week, it should prevent the scorched earth look we’ve rocked several years running. (I’m not going to wander around getting mosquito bites while dragging a sprinkler anymore. I’m over it.)

    Best of luck with your lawn! And your trim. I’m also caulking, filling and painting trim this week, and I’m convinced it will never end. I made up a song today to the tune of Oscar the Grouch’s “I love trash” that began “Oh, I hate caulk.”

  50. Do the artificial grass. I’ve had mine for 2 years and it’s the best investment I’ve ever made on landscaping. My younger daughter has sensitive skin and when she plays on normal grass she always is itching and has red splotches all over her. Not on my grass though. She can play out there all day. It looks so real and I never have to mow. It’s amazing. We didn’t do our front yard and I seriously regret it. We will be changing that in the future though. Also, I know people that have had their grass for 4+ years and it still looks great. I live in Gilbert, AZ and it gets upwards of 118* outside. There’s been no fading and I just hose it down and it stays cool for a couple hours if we want to play outside.

  51. How do you keep it from fading in the sun, clean up debris that blows into it from trees, the street, etc.? In New England, we just let the normal rain and snow water our lawn. We have specific days we can water for conservation in the hot summer, but we just cut it once a week and occasionally put down weed killer/fertilizer. It’s not a perfect lawn, but its green. I have too many other projects to worry about the lawn right now. We don’t even hang out in out yard much because we’re on a main road in town and don’t like the road noise. I planted flowering shrubs and ornamental trees so I don’t bother with flower beds currently. Just have to trim the shrubs twice a year.

  52. I would love it!! In Houston they have a model home park off 45 (Main Street) and the entire place is beautifully landscaped with faux grass!! I have looked into it and if i could figure how my dog would act with i would have already had it! It looks great and is saving water and money with land care starting a $40 for basic upkeep in our area then more has you need other things dine it would be nice to budget that (every week in summer every two weeks in fall-winter) to something else!!

  53. We have artificial grass in our yard and have never regretted it! We live in Phoenix, so keeping grass alive and healthy looking is both expensive and time consuming. My husband works 80 hour weeks, so most of the maintenance of the house and yard falls on me, and I have loved the almost no maintenance yard.

  54. Well, I think if you live in a hot, dry climate, like Nevada, Arizona, or New Mexico artifical lawns are the perfect solution. However when you have a more mixed climate with much more moisture and change to their seasons it seems really tacky. It just looks so out of place in those climates. Sure in the spring and summer the green will blend nicely with the neighborhood, but in the fall/winter when the green isn’t as bright (or even brown with frost) in your neighborhood, your lawn will be a bad hair plug on the block. Just unnatural.

    I think a little can go a long way. You can put down more seed to have this cultivate what you already have, add some varying perennials (for shade!) that cut down on your effort in matienence but leave you with a nice welcoming yard with minimal work. Cutting the grass, edging the lawn and the occasional seasonal clean up is all you should need to do. Those crazy manicured lawns you had in the post look that way because they have a full service of landscapers that do it for the owners once a week. In the real world, no one whats to do all of that effort for unrealistic perfection. I suggest you find balance. It will be the best option for an ever changing weather enivronment.

  55. I live in Az, friends had an artificial lawn , it really held the heat at night, and during the day got to hot to walk on. This was a few years ago so maybe its a problem thats been fixed.

  56. Ha, I’ve been telling myself that I am being environmentally friendly by basically ignoring my garden, apart from getting a garden service to do mowing.
    I figure it’ll be a war of attrition and I’ll find out that way which plants are naturally suited to the climate here (without needing additional watering). This should make my life easier when I’m done with the inside of the house and want to do the exterior.

  57. While I like the thought of artificial turf, I am not sure I would love it. We here in Mo. kinda get obsessed with green grass, but some are trying to be more concerned with the chemicals needed to achieve it. I personally like xeriscaping as an alternative. And fot Texans, it seems especially important to conserve water. My daughter lives in Wichita Falls, where they had extreme drought and were not able to water. She was plagued with mosquitoes so bad you couldn’t be outside.
    We are in the process of building a house now, and I hope to convince my lawn lover husband that we need less grass and more leisure! Our lot is a lakefront, with a bit of tall Oaks, so it doesn’t make sense to try for a perfect lawn. Large beds with rock or mulch and shrubs sounds good to me!
    Also, the same daughter has a home in Colo. Springs, Co. and they are required to have 75% NON-FLAMMABLE materials in landscape due to fire hazards. Her lot there looks awesome! She can mow the grass there in 10 mins. flat!

  58. We have part of our yard in artificial turf and we love it!

    I admit, I was skeptical of the idea at first. But our landscaper had some turf leftover from another one of his jobs, and he said he would let us have the material for free and we would only have to pay labor.

    He installed it in an area of our yard that would be difficult to mow otherwise. I was afraid it would look garish or tacky, but it does not. It looks like grass!

    We have it in our backyard, and we have native plants in front of the artificial section. We also have a dry creek bed and some large boulders. Maybe I’ll send you a picture if I can find it. I think that it would make sense in your situation.

  59. I suggest a house number and lighting near the door, maybe some furniture on the porch! Can’t wait to see what you do!

  60. I am just now preparing my front yard for artificial grass. I decided on one of the “brown thatch at the root” style options from PreGra. PreGra is sold online by Costco (free shipping) and is the best artificial grass product I have been able to find.

    The company will send out samples so the way I selected my particular grass is by walking around the neighborhood with the samples and tossing them onto real lawns to see which one blended in enough to look the most believable.

    One thing I learned in the research process is that artificial grass comes in 15′ widths. If, in the yard design process, you can eliminate the need for product seaming by keeping the lawn areas no more than 15′ wide, the installation is much less complicated and more of a possible DIY with some help from friends.

    I think artificial grass is a great solution for parts of your yard. 👍🏼

  61. I would, and have, consider an artificial turf lawn. We have an abundance of sandburs in our area and they are awful not just for people, but pets.

    The main reason I wanted to comment is to let you know that in my research I found that Costco had the most reasonable prices for artificial lawns.

  62. Love your blog and your projects. I found your build in cupboards and just got hooked into reading all your other stuff. Great job! I saw this post and I just have to leave a comment.
    Please no artificial grass! I just spoke to a guy today who complained that he spends more water washing his artificial grass than he spends watering his front lawn. He has dogs and he was telling me how smelly and hot it gets. This is not an isolated example. We are in San Diego County. 10″ of rain per year on average (the last few its been more like 5″-6″). Turf grass here takes about 50″ per year to keep it looking good. I’m not a big fan of it since we just don’t have that kind of water. But artificial turf gets hot and adds heat around the house, so you will have to run your cooling for longer (= more $ for power, more CO2 in the atmosphere). It also is impermeable to rainwater, so when we do get rain, it ends up just flowing off into the street, causing flooding issues downstream, picking up pollution and washing it down to our beach and out to the ocean. The alternative is to plant native plants that are used to living on the amount of water you get where you live. When we set up the soil right for native plants – adding more compost and mulch to build the organic matter, swearing off fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides that kill all the good guys in the soil – the plants are able to create a network with the soil microbes and this leads to the sequestering of a huge amount of carbon. Plastic grass ain’t going to do that for you.
    Which leads to …. It’s made of plastic, and we all know that plastic never decomposes, so after its finished looking good, what will happen to it? Finally, it’s often filled with ground up rubber tires, and there is a lot of concern about the health effects from the heavy metals found in that.
    And where do I get my information from? Well, I ran a landscape contracting business in California for 10 years, and I’ve been a home gardener/landscaper for many more. I co-host a podcast and we talk about these topics a lot. I teach homeowners and professionals all over southern California, and I provide consultancy and design services. Hope that helps!

  63. Hey Kristi Really Enjoyable Read,
    Ive Put Fake Grass down at my house and I’m really happy i have. its really practical for me and my four kittens. its great for pets, and i have saved a ton of money on water!

  64. I love the idea of an artificial grass lawn, because I would rather spend my extra time paying attention to my garden. Artificial grass doesn’t need to be mowed, watered, or weeded, and that saves a lot of time. Have a great day.