Best and worst artificial grass
If you have a concrete yard that can't be planted with real turf, then artificial grass may be worth considering, but be aware of the environmental concerns around using it (see below). Our expert guide uncovers the best options for your garden, scoring grass on appearance and ease of installation.
We've tested 15 mid-priced types of artificial grass to see which looked the most natural, even when it's been subjected to some tough wear-and-tear.
With so many artificial grass brands to choose from, our rigorous tests can lend a helping hand. The best artificial grass we've seen looks like real grass from a distance, but low-scoring options are let down by weak backing material that struggles to keep the grass secure.
Artificial grass test results
|Ease of installation||Appearance||Routine cleaning||Overall test score|
|Overall test score: this ignores price and is instead based on: performance 50% (including appearance, drainage and heat damage) and ease of use 50% (including cleaning and installation)|
What are the environmental implications of artificial grass?
- The majority of worms and soil insects that usually live underneath real lawns will be unable to survive under artificial grass laid on earth, creating unknown effects on soil ecology.
- Fake lawns do not provide valuable food for birds and other garden wildlife, including pollinators which feed from flowers in grass lawns, such as daisies and clover.
- They don't convert carbon dioxide into oxygen as grass does, potentially having a negative effect on carbon levels in the atmosphere.
- They're made of plastic and when they need to be removed they can't be recycled and have to go into landfill or be incinerated.
Fake grass does allow rain to drain away just as efficiently as real lawns though and you shouldn't need to use any harmful weed killers or pesticides to keep it looking healthy.
How we test artificial grass
For each type of artificial grass we test, we pay close attention to the following:
- Heat resistance - We tip boiling water over the fake grass, and drop a hot, disposable barbecue onto it to see if it melts.
- Installation - We rate the instructions, where provided, and how easy it is to install the grass on a flat area of ground.
- Appearance -We leave the grass outside for six months, driving a wear machine over it to see how well the join holds together and how well the grass stands up to heavy use.
- Cleaning - We let mud and leaves accumulate on the lawn before cleaning them off using a leaf blower and a hose. We even make up a mix of treacle, oats and soil to simulate dog mess, and leave it to settle on the lawn over a weekend before cleaning it.