Artificial pet turf [or fake grass for dogs] has been steadily increasing in popularity among homeowners for use in front yards, backyards, play areas, and dog runs.
There are several reasons why people are attracted to this landscaping option.
In hot, dry climates, like the one we enjoy in Columbia, South Carolina, artificial grass is an affordable, low-maintenance alternative version of grass.
It stays beautiful, lush, and green year-round without the watering required to keep natural grass from drying up in the Columbia, South Carolina heat.
Why Should I Install Fake Grass for Dogs?
Maintaining a smooth, green natural grass lawn in Columbia, South Carolina is a challenge.
It’s HOT, costs a lot of time, energy, and money to keep your yard looking beautiful—doubly so if you have dogs.
Fido can do a lot of damage to your lawn by digging up the grass, creating brown dog urine spots from peeing in the same place, or running on the same path and wearing ruts.
Staying ahead of your dog’s impact on the landscaping is a constant struggle for many pet owners.
If you’ve thought about replacing your real grass with synthetic grass to avoid these issues, you may have more questions than answers.
Is artificial grass safe for dogs and children?
How much does it cost?
Is it environmentally friendly?
Does it drain well?
How do you clean pet turf?
If you’re considering taking the leap to try out artificial grass in your designated pet area/dog run, or your entire yard, read on.
We will answer the questions you have about the durability, safety, maintenance requirements, and overall pet-friendliness of artificial grass.
Is Artificial Grass Safe for Dogs & Pets?
Naturally, safety is a primary concern for your family, and your fur babies are no exception.
Rest assured that artificial turf is safe for dogs—sometimes even more than normal grass.
A common misconception about synthetic grass for dogs is that it contains lead and harmful chemicals.
This was true several years ago, but many artificial turf manufacturers have now eliminated lead and other harmful chemicals from their manufacturing processes.
These improvements in manufacturing technology have made artificial grass safer than ever before—often safer than chemical-treated natural grass.
In 2008 the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) and major turf manufacturers entered agreements to make sure synthetic turf would no longer pose this health concern.
This means that, as long as you choose an ethical, reputable artificial grass installation company, you can rest assured that lead exposure will not be an issue for your family or pets.
This does not necessarily mean that all existing artificial turf is safe for pets – or safe for children.
If you have synthetic grass in your yard that was installed before moving in, and is of unknown origin, you should consider having the lead levels tested.
Benefits of Installing Fake Grass for Dogs
The benefits of using artificial grass in a pet area, dog run, or your entire yard are numerous.
Homeowners across the country are opting for manufactured lawns because it is:
Cleaner for dogs [requiring fewer baths and tick treatments]
Prevents Muddy Paws
Helps with Skin Allergies for Dogs
Eliminates Fire Ants
The savings in time, money, and energy spent on maintaining a natural grass lawn makes artificial grass a definite win for you and your pet.
Even professional kennels and veterinarians often use fake grass for outdoor pet areas because mowing those areas is difficult and artificial grass cleanup is a cinch.
Many dog parks and apartment complexes with dog areas use synthetic pet turf as well, and for many of the same reasons.
Fake grass will also withstand the heavy use of multiple dogs every day without wearing ruts or holes like normal grass would.
Lastly, it’s easy to install, whether the base is concrete or soil.
Real Grass vs. Fake Grass for Dogs
Real grass has its advantages.
Who doesn’t love cool, springy, green grass under their feet on a hot summer day?
But that natural grass comes at a high price—weekends spent mowing, edging, weeding, and fertilizing the lawn.
And let’s not even talk about the water bill in the heat of a Columbia, South Carolina summer.
Fake grass may not have the same cool, padded feeling as real grass, but nowadays, it comes pretty close.
Artificial grass is made with blades of varying widths, textures, and colors to mimic the variation in natural grass.
Unless you look closely, you just might mistake it for the real thing.
By installing pet-friendly turf in your yard, you avoid all the problems that burden natural grass lawns:
Brown spots from dog urine
When it comes to maintaining a vibrant, smooth, attractive lawn, fake grass for dogs is head and shoulders above real grass.
Natural Grass Usually Requires Chemicals
A healthy-looking natural grass lawn usually requires a plethora of harmful chemicals, such as:
These substances keep your lawn green and pretty, but they can contaminate groundwater, alter the chemistry of the soil, and even cause cancer and other diseases.
Chemical treatments for lawns should be avoided when possible.
Artificial Grass Does NOT Require Chemicals
Artificial grass requires no chemical applications.
The backing of our artificial grass is made with antimicrobial additives which prevents the buildup of bacteria, mold, and mildew.
The only maintenance required is the occasional spray down with the hose.
Without all the harmful lawn chemicals, your lovely, green lawn will be a safe place for both pets and kids to play.
What’s the Difference Between Pet Turf & Artificial Grass?
Artificial grass has come a long way in the decades since AstroTurf first appeared in 1965.
The massive advances in technology and manufacturing processes have resulted in an incredible variety of synthetic grass products.
Artificial grasses are now produced with specific applications in mind—in this case, artificial grass specifically designed for dogs.
Not all synthetic turf for pets is created equal.
While they may look and feel similar, there are some important differences between artificial grass and Pet Turf.
Pet turf is specially designed to withstand the wear and tear from running animals, as well as the high nitrogen concentrations in dog urine.
Fake grass for dogs often has a 100% permeable backing that allows for faster drainage than typical artificial grass.
Where Can I Install Fake Grass for Dogs?
Artificial grass is unbelievably versatile, both in residential and commercial settings.
The only limit is your imagination.
Synthetic grass can be installed indoors and outdoors, on walls, around pools, between pavers, on rooftops, decks, and patios, just to name a few.
The most common places that people install pet turf are:
Patios and Porches
You can install it in places you wouldn’t be able to mow and in small patches that wouldn’t make sense for regular grass.
For a more detailed list of places you can install artificial grass around your home, check out our blog post on the 12 Most Common Residential Artificial Turf Applications.
How Do I Maintain Pet-Friendly Artificial Grass?
When it comes to the maintenance of fake grass versus real grass, there’s really no contest.
Once it’s installed, artificial turf maintenance is practically non-existent.
There’s no mowing, weeding, edging, or watering needed to keep your lawn green year-round.
Homeowners with synthetic turf lawns get to spend their Saturdays actually enjoying their yards instead of manicuring them!!
How To Clean Fake Grass for Dogs
While fake turf for pets is much easier to maintain than a normal lawn, you should spray it down once or twice a week with the hose to ensure that the ammonia from pet urine doesn’t build up and cause odors.
Do not use a pressure washer to do this.
The force is unnecessary and can damage the grass.
You’ll still need to pick up the doggy do-do, but other than that, the only maintenance required to keep your artificial grass looking beautiful is to rake up any debris that falls on it (like twigs and leaves) and fluff it with a broom or rake if it gets pressed down in high traffic areas.
Do not use acidic or alcohol-based cleaners on your synthetic grass, as it can harm the fibers.
How Durable is Fake Grass for Dogs?
An artificial turf installation will last 10 to 20 years.
The longevity of the grass depends on a number of factors such as; how well it’s maintained, how much traffic it receives, and the quality of the product.
In general, the best artificial grass will last longer than cheaper alternatives.
What Makes A Turf Product Durable?
Below we’ll examine the individual components of artificial turf so that you’ll know what to look for when you begin shopping for it.
The face weight of synthetic grass is a measure of the weight (in ounces) of the yarn within 1 square yard.
This includes the blades and thatch only and does not include the infill or backing.
Turf products with a greater face weight tend to be more durable.
This comes in several forms like rubber, ceramic, silica, etc. and will vary depending on the turf application, turf product, and installer.
Infills play two important roles in turf installations, acting as a ballast to help keep the turf in place and mimic the soil between grass blades, keeping them upright and springy.
For applications involving dogs and pets, select an infill option that is antimicrobial to help combat odors.
Look for varieties that are non-toxic to pets, in case of accidental ingestion.
Most pet turf products will have a fully permeable backing to allow water and urine to pass directly through it.
The holes allow tiny solid particles to pass through the turf and into the sub-base.
Turf fibers come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
For the most part, blades with a “w” or “m” shape will retain their form and be easy to clean.
Some turf suppliers offer heat-resistant fibers to keep the surface temp down and your pet’s paws cool.
While the fibers may be more resistant to heat, they’re often made of nylon, which is a very tough and rigid material.
We recommend turf products with polypropylene or polyethylene fibers combined with an evaporative cooling infill to help keep temperatures down.
How Much Does Fake Grass for Dogs Cost?
There is an upfront cost with pet turf, and the price will vary depending on the size of the installation, the quality of the turf, and other environmental factors, like leveling that may need to be done before the installation.
On average, for a 500-1,000 sq. ft. installation plan on about $6.16 – $8.98 per square foot, depending on the quality of the product.
Bear in mind that Pet synthetic lawns are made to last a decade or more.
After the initial purchase, artificial grass costs you next to nothing.
Another factor to consider is how much natural grass is already costing you.
If you were to put in new sod, you’d likely spend thousands of dollars to do so.
Whether the lawn is new or established, you also need to buy expensive lawn equipment (like mowers and edgers), and you must fuel, and maintain your tools.
If you have to fertilize, aerate, or treat your lawn for pests, those costs add up too.
If the sticker price of artificial grass seems a bit shocking, bear in mind that the upfront investment in a synthetic lawn will pay for itself in a few years with water and maintenance savings.
One of the biggest financial and environmental savings that fake grass creates is in water.
The average American family uses 320 gallons of water per day, about 30 percent of which is devoted to outdoor uses.
More than half of that outdoor water is used for watering lawns and gardens.
Nationwide, landscape irrigation is estimated to account for nearly one-third of all residential water use, totaling nearly 9 billion gallons per day!
That’s a lot of cash and empty aquifers just for green grass.
A lot of homeowners with synthetic turf get really excited about this one.
With artificial grass, you can say good-bye to your landscaper and the monthly landscaping bill.
There’s no need to take up garage space with mowers, edgers, or weed whackers.
Aside from costing money and hassle, mowing your lawn each week has a hefty toll on the environment.
Lawnmowers and other gas-powered landscaping equipment use 800 million gallons of gas each year in the U.S. alone, accounting for 5 percent of the overall air pollution.
Installing synthetic turf is a great way to reduce your overall carbon footprint.
Did you know that the average American spends 43.8 hours caring for their yard each year? That’s a full work week!
Installing artificial grass is like giving yourself an extra week of vacation to spend with the people and pets you love, rather than behind a lawnmower.
What To Look For When Buying Fake Grass For Dogs
Just like steaks, lightbulbs, and tennis shoes, artificial grass comes in multiple grades.
Different brands and quality tiers of artificial grass will be more or less durable, and higher-end products come with additional features.
To make an informed buying decision, here are a few important features to look for when shopping for fake grass for dogs.
Look for a heavier face weight to ensure you’re getting artificial grass that will stand up to time and heavy traffic.
Fully Permeable Backing
This is a must-have for pet owners who want to avoid the buildup of odors from pet urine in their lawn.
This is not a deal-breaker, but a warranty is a good indicator that the manufacturer is willing to stand behind their product.
Matches Neighborhood Grass Type
Take note of what grasses are common in your area, and match the color and look if you can.
Low Pile Height
A low pile height of around 1 inch is good for pet turf, as it makes cleanup of solid waste quick and easy.
With so many choices on the market today, you can find an artificial grass product that meets your needs and fits your budget.
How Is Synthetic Grass Made?
Artificial grass is made by extruding colored, UV-resistant plastic through a machine to form threads.
Those threads are then punched through a backing to form sheets of artificial grass.
The process is similar to hooking yarn through a frame to make a rug.
The length, type, and density of the fibers, as well as the type of backing material, all impact the quality of the final product.
Most pet-friendly turf includes antimicrobial agents in the source material to prevent the growth of bacteria and neutralize odors.