Artificial turf or real turf – Which is better?


A question that I get asked alot by my customers is “should I get artificial turf or real turf?” and of course it all comes down to personal preference, but below I will be explaining the pros and cons of both allowing you to decide which is the better option for you. Although I have to say as a landscape gardener, artificial turf is definitely on the rise with me laying it more and more each year.

Artificial turf

Which is cheaper to have layed?

What’s funny is that out of all the quotations I do, it’s the artificial turf installations that I have the worst luck with. Its not because I charge so much to do it, it’s because people don’t realise just how much is involved with having fake grass layed. To give you an idea, you need to dig out 6 inches of earth for the area having artificial turf laid which also involves the need for a skip (more money). Then we would need to install a wooden frame around the parimeter of where the fake grass is to be laid before laying 3 inches of type 1 MOT (similar to hardcore) and compacting it using a wacker plate before laying 3 inches of sharp sand and compacting that too. This is to stop the turf from sinking over time. Once you are happy with the levelling etc., it’s time to lay membrane to prevent weeds from latching and to lay the artificial turf. Another reason for the type 1 MOT is because when using 6 inch nails, these will go through the sharp sand and anchoring into the compacted type 1.

When you compare this to laying real turf, which involves just taking a thin layer of earth away to remove the old weeds and roots before laying new top soil and real turf, the job becomes almost effortless compared to that of fake grass.

Not only this, but the cost per squared meter of real grass is between £3.00 and £5.00 compared to £10.00 and £15.00 for a good quality squared meter of fake grass. To give you a better understanding, let’s do an example quote below comparing the 2.

Real turf

Quotation to lay 40 squared meters of artificial turf.


  • Turf £400
  • 6 x ton bags of sharp sand £300
  • 6 x ton bags of type 1 MOT £300
  • 2 x 7 yard skips £450
  • Timber for Borders £20
  • Membrane £40

Total cost of materials £1510.00


The work would take 2 of us 3 days to complete. At £20 per hour, per head, this brings the total day rate to £320.00, or £960.00 over the 3 days.

Total cost for labour and materials to install artificial turf £2470.00.

Quotation to install 40 squared meters of real turf


  • Real turf £120
  • 4 x ton bags of top soil £200
  • 1 x 6 yard skip £220

Total cost of materials £540.00


The work would take 2 of us 2 days to complete. At £20.00 per hour, per head, this brings the total day rate to £320.00, or £640.00 over the 2 days.

Total cost for labour and materials to install real turf £1180.00.

Looking at the above, it would cost £1290.00 more to install 40 squared meters of fake grass compared to having real grass layed.

What are the benefits of having artificial grass?

I’d say that despite it being initially more expensive to have installed, fake grass does come with more benefits compared to having real turf, and if you pay for a gardener to cut your grass then you’d probably make your money back over time on those savings alone. Let’s have a look below at some of the benefits of having real turf installed.

  • No maintenance – Unlike real turf, there is no need to treat for weeds, re-seed bald patches or even cut the grass. Your artificial turf will look fresh all year round.
  • Low cost – Although fake turf is initially more expensive to purchase and have installed compared to real turf, it will save you money in the long run with little to no maintenance required.
  • No staining on clothing – Us parents know how irritating it is to have our children come home with grass stains on their clothing that you just can’t get out! But with artificial turf you can eliminate this risk.
  • Good for pets – If you opt for a shorter grass blade length, such as 5-10mm, clearing up dog mess will be a breeze compared to real grass, especially grass that is long and in need of a cut! Not only this, but there will be no need to treat your lawn with harmful chemicals.
  • Amazing for a quick transformation – If you have a patio or other hard surface and are wanting some green in your garden, providing that it’s a level surface, you can easily lay the artificial turf directly onto the surface without the need for skips and hard manual labour removing the patio etc..

My overall thoughts on artificial turf vs real turf

Despite the benefits on artificial turf, I myself prefer good old fashioned real grass. There’s nothing like the smell of freshly cut grass! That and I enjoy the time outside maintaining the garden on a hot summers day. I’ve laid many fake and real grass, and yes artificial grass does look amazing, but you can always see that it’s still not real.

But then everyone has different circumstances and priorities and I am in a position where I can, and where I enjoy mowing the lawn. If I had a few dogs that ruined the grass, or if I struggled to find time to manage the garden, then of course artificial turf may be the better option for me.