Real Grass vs Artificial Grass For Dogs & Pets: Which To Get?

 

In this guide, we look at some of the pros and cons of real vs artificial grass for dogs.

The main areas we discuss are cost, cleaning and maintenance.

At the bottom of this guide, we also look deeper into artificial grass – including what some of the popular products are at the moment, how it can be used, who might get it, and so on.

Note that the numbers, figures etc. are estimates only, and are generally based on a standard sized residential lawn – they can be affected by many external variables and factors.

Let’s jump into it …

 

(Note – this is an informational guide only, and not professional advice, or a substitute for expert advice)

 

Real Grass vs Artificial Grass For Dogs & Pets: Which To Get?

Before getting into the guide below, here are some of the artificial grass products we mention within this guide. You can immediately start comparing them for yourself to any real grass you might already have in your yard, or real grass you’re thinking of buying:

 

Onto the artificial grass vs real grass comparison …

 

What Types Of Artificial and Synthetic Grass Are Available?

Before we get into the comparison, it’s important to know what types of artificial grass are available.

In this guide we refer to the rubber/mesh backed roll types of artificial grass that may or may not be professionally installed.

There’s a wide variance of designs, qualities, installation procedures and guarantees on this product.

You should know though that there are also artificial grass rugs, artificial grass tiles, and artificial grass outdoor potties – all designed for dogs and pets.

 

Real Grass vs Artificial Grass For Dogs – Cost

In terms of cost, there are both installation, and ongoing costs to consider.

 

Installation Costs

Real grass is much cheaper to install.

This is assuming your soil conditions and pH are OK and you have suitable soil for the type of grass you want to install (do a soil pH test, and rebalance the soil with fertiliser or lime if required).

It involves buying the grass seeds you want, spreading them, watering and following the germination instructions.

So, your only costs are really seeds which are cheap, and lawn food.

In most cases, seeding and some lawn food is only going to cost you less than $100.

Artificial and synthetic grass is going to be much more expensive to install depending on the size of the area you want to cover, and whether you buy and install yourself, or you get a local artificial pet lawn company to both supply and install.

It’s worth getting a professional to install if you are paying for higher quality turf because they will secure the perimeter of the lawn (fix it with boards and staples) so your dog can’t find any weak spots to dig up or pull up the grass, as well as making sure the turf is fastened correctly to the ground.

They will also sometimes supply and compact the aggregate which the turf drains into.

All this will easily cost a few thousand dollars.

You can save money if you’ve got the time by installing yourself with the consultation of the turf manufacturer installers.

Speak to your local supplier and installer for a quote, or find a supply only artificial turf on Amazon, work out how much it will cost to cover the area you want to cover, and install yourself.

There are some supply only pet synthetic grasses that work out to be a lot cheap per square meter than others, but be wary of quality and reviews/experiences from other customers.

 

Ongoing Costs

Ongoing costs for real lawn are going to to be re-seeding when lawn dies or burns, fertiliser and soil additives, and of cost water bills for watering.

There’s also the time commitment of mowing and trimming your grass.

Ongoing costs for artificial turf are going to be the time spent blow cleaning or vacuuming the surface, and the cost of an enzyme or pet stain remover and deodoriser (enzyme cleaners work well) for getting rid of marks or stains.

So, it’s pretty cheap.

It’s important to look at the guarantee or warranty on the number of years the grass is going to last.

That way if the grass wears down or your dog digs through it, you either get the grass replaced or you know how many years it will be until you have to pay to rip up the old turf and lay new stuff.

 

Cost Summary

Real grass might cost you less than $100 to install presuming there is no soil modifying required, and a few hundred dollars a year to maintain for water and fertiliser. Re-seeding is cheap. There is a time cost too though.

Artificial grass ranges from in the hundreds, to in the thousands of dollars to install depending on many factors like square meterage, quality of the turf, whether you pay for installation etc.

Artificial grass will need to be replaced at some point, where obviously you’ll need to pay to re-install.

Most manufacturers offer somewhere between a 5 to 10 year warranty on wear and tear and sun damage. But, you’ll need to check this when you go to buy.

 

Real Grass vs Artificial Grass For Dogs – Cleaning, Maintenance and Care

For artificial grass, there are three main things you might do to keep the surface clean and maintain it:

Pick-up solid waste of the surface once it’s dry

Remove dirt, hair and other debris using a leaf blower, vacuum, extractor, or power broom

Clean the surface – rinse, sanitize, and/or treat with bacterial enzymes formulated to remove and deodorise pet stains

 

Always follow the maintenance or care guidelines the artificial grass manufacturer provides you with.

For real grass, a good maintenance routine might involve fertilising and liming in the right seasons for both lawn food and soil care, watering, aerating, de-weeding, edge trimming and mowing.

Training and preventing your dog from peeing and pooping on the grass is a good way to keep the grass clean and free of burn marks and patches.

It also pays to have a good general lawn care strategy as a dog owner to keep the grass looking green.

For both real grass and fake grass, you can get natural odor eliminators to temporarily mask or remove the smell of dog poop or urine once you picked it up or rinsed it off the surface

 

Cleaning, Maintenance and Care Summary

You’re probably looking at a few hundred dollars a year to maintain real grass for a standard size lawn. But, some people choose to not be too invested in maintenance and their grass costs them very little.

Artificial grass is only going to cost you money generally for some type of pet stain disinfectant, remover and deodoriser. It’s pretty cheap to clean and maintain.

 

Real Grass vs Artificial Grass For Dogs – Other Considerations

Other considerations with artificial and real grass are:

– Some (not all) pet turfs can heat up and get hot in the summer – check this before buying. Natural grass is always cool for your pet to lay on and walk on

– Synthetic pet turfs will usually drain pet urine via rubber drainage holes and/or aggregate into the soil.

However, real grass has the advantage of natural microbes which naturally break down or feed on dog poop plus direct drainage of urine into the soil.

Dog poop on artificial grass is just going to sit there until cleaned up

– Some artificial grasses are quite good with no marks or no stains – they only need poop to be picked up regularly like real grass

– Real grass of course is susceptible to nitrogen and salt burns that are found in your dog’s urine – this will sometimes result in yellow or brown dead grass patches on your lawn

– Different fake grasses have different qualities, designs, and warranties/guarantees.

Check exactly the design of the turf and what the length and conditions are on the wear/fade/tear resistance and replacement (get this in writing if possible).

Professionally laid and guaranteed artificial grass will cost more but is usually the best for drainage, cleaning, durability and smell.

You may also be able to pick up some higher quality supply only artificial grass, but be careful to read other customer feedback first

– High quality fake grass usually doesn’t have issues with smelling as it drains well and a regular cleaning/washing of the surface removes any surface odors

Fake grass designs usually consist of the fake grass with an anti microbial treatment, mesh holding the turf together, rubber backing with drainage holes, aggregate and soil below the turf for drainage, and a combination of stainless steel staples and backing boards for fixing.

– Real grass may have garden specific issues like water drainage/irrigation, soil imbalances or pest/weed diseases you have to deal with.

– Make sure any artificial or synthetic grass you buy is designed for dogs and pets

 

Artificial Grass For Dogs & Pets – Top Rated List, & Buyer’s Info

Some Popular Artificial Grass Products On The Market

 

Summary, & Is Artificial Grass Worth It?

Fake grass for dogs and pets varies in type, design and quality.

Fake grass products for dogs and pets range greatly from the high end professionally laid grass, to portable synthetic grass potties with plastic catch trays. 

But, there are both cheaper and affordable options, as well as the more expensive options which come with better durability, drainage for waste and won’t trap odors as easily.

Depending on your needs and situation, one solution might be better than the other, or you may even have your problems solved by having both.

In terms of whether artificial grass is worth it …

It depends what you want to use it for, and what your expectations are.

Artificial grass ranges in quality and durability.

At the very least, you’ll want to make sure you get some type of warranty or guarantee to protect your money purchase if you are spending any meaningful amount of money on it, and it doesn’t last long or it begins to degrade quickly.

Quality artificial grass can be good and durable for some applications, but, you usually pay more for it i.e. it doesn’t come cheap.

For some applications like an outdoor dog potty area, pea gravel and other materials might be better.

 

What Is Artificial Grass Made Of?

Fake grass itself is usually made of polyethelyne and/or nylon monofilaments.

Different grasses are going to be knitted and seamed differently – which will effect how long the grass stays on for and whether the edges fray or not.

The expensive grass has anti microbial protection to protect against the spread of bacteria.

Different types of fake grass are going to have different bases and backings ranging from stainless steel mesh (great for draining), rubber, foam, plastic or no base or backing at all.

 

How Can Artificial Grass Be Used?

The professionally installed artificial grass can be used anywhere – homes, inside, outside, vets, commercial properties, dog parks and runs, airports, apartments etc.

The cheaper rubber backer grass can be used in small square meterage on patios and decks as pee and poop spots if you place a plastic tray under them.

You could also use them on soil – but check their durability and warranty before installing to large surface areas.

Potties are best placed outside where there is ventilation, as they will make the inside stink by trapping and holding urine and poop smells.

Rugs and mats are best used on a surface that it doesn’t matter if it gets stained or whether there are leakages such as soil, or concrete you can wash down.

Check the product description for what the product is designed to be used for.

 

Summary Of Real Grass vs Artificial Grass

Artificial grass is generally more expensive to purchase and install

Real grass is more expensive to maintain if you water it regularly, and obviously has more time intensive maintenance requirements

Real grass has the advantage of having naturally occurring microbes to break down waste

Salt and nitrogen in dog urine can kill grass by burning it’s root system

Cheaper artificial grasses can trap odor and get smelly

Cheaper artificial grasses can heat up in the summer time and be hot to walk on

Real grass is susceptible to the condition of the soil, irrigation and aerobic conditions, and other random factors like weeds and insects/pests

 

Understand What You Want The Artificial Grass For

Firstly, you have to consider what you want the artificial grass for.

Some people might want artificial grass and synthetic lawn for different reasons.

Some of the reasons might include:

 

– You want to cover a whole lawn area, where you may have also considered real grass – and the artificial grass has to look good as well as be durable for dogs and pets

For this scenario, when covering larger areas that are for appearance and practicality, it pays to go to a professional supply and install company that offer the big 5-10 year warranties.

You’ll pay the most money for this option, but it’s worth it for a high quality, durable grass that drains properly and won’t smell + is really durable.

 

– You want something for a small area that isn’t plain dirt for example, to cover a small area around the side of the house or in the front or backyard either for looks or for your dog to do their business on

For this approach, you could go for a rubber backer cheaper per metre grass or a grass rug.

Urine might not drain as well from this grass, but you’ll save a lot more money.

 

– You want a very small patch of artificial grass specifically as a potty for your dog to use outside (most artificial lawn patch potties aren’t good for inside due to odors)

You can go for the rubber backed grass in this instance (a few square metres), a grass rug or a portable synthetic grass potty.

Pea gravel can be a far better material for outdoor dog potties than artificial grass

 

Types Of Artificial Grass

Secondly, once you know what you’re looking for out of artificial grass, it’s important to know the types available:

 

1. Artificial Grass With Mesh Backings, and Rubber Backings

Mesh backed artificial grass is usually the grass you see people get to cover large areas.

Artificial grass with backing (the material that holds the grass together and allows drainage) ranges in design and quality.

The proprietary mesh backed artificial grass usually allows for all over drainage and odor prevention, whereas the infill type grasses with rubber backs and intermittent drainage holes might hold more waste and smell more + be harder to clean.

Things to look out for with artificial grass that has backing are:

Does the artificial grass surface have any treatment or design for anti microbial properties for solids that sit on the surface until you pick them up? (to stop the spread of bacteria from poop for example)

Is the backing a mesh type backing that allows free flowing of liquids and small solids from the surface? Or, is the grass backing more of an infill type backing like rubber that might trap liquids trying to drain from the grass and makes the grass smelly?

Is there a material like crushed rock or aggregate that goes under the grass to make it firm to walk on, to keep it level and to allow filtering of liquids into the soil?

Can you get the grass professionally installed with stainless steel staples, boards and glue so it is fully fixed – to prevent your pets identifying weak points in the grass and digging it up? Or, can you just free lay the grass on your existing surface?

Is there a guarantee or warranty on the product? What specifically does the warranty cover (general wear and tear, digging, sun damage and fade etc.)? How many years does the warranty last?

… An example of the rubber backed grass is the Pet Zen Synthetic Grass With Rubber Holes (on Amazon).

 

There’s then high quality, professionally installed mesh backed artificial grass …

This type of artificial grass drains really well with mesh pores across the whole grass, doesn’t trap odors, fixed well to prevent dogs digging up, and offers guarantees and warranties usually between 5-10 years.

Expensive to install. Usually used for lawn areas.

Is longer and looks more like real grass than the cheap artificial grass that are shorter in length and have a turf look.

Installed with backing boards, stainless steel staples and glue for a sealed fix with no weaknesses.

Usually has a surface anti microbial protection against the spread of bacteria.

For the proprietary mesh backed professionally supplied and installed artificial high quality grass – do a google search in your country or local area, and check out the companies with the best customer testimonials and guarantees on their products.

 

2. Artificial Grass Mats and Rugs

A very cheap option for an outside patio, concrete floor, garage floor or as a cover for a small patch of dirt.

You just get the lightweight synthetic material with no backing.

These rugs and mats tend to shed and fray quite easily, but if you are looking for something very cheap you can replace every 6 months and won’t have to worry if it stains or gets damaged, these rugs could be a good option.

Spray with the hose to clean, or scrub with some enzyme cleaner or deodoriser. 

You can use natural non-toxic pet stain removers, disinfectants and deodorisers to clean them.

An example of an outside artificial grass rug is the GREENSCAPES Artificial Grass Rug (on Amazon)

 

3. Artificial Grass Portable Potty Patches, and Disposable Real Grass Patches

These are portable patches of artificial grass that act as a portable potty.

They usually have some sort of plastic urine catchment tray and insert underneath, and can be placed indoors or outdoors on patios or waterproof surfaces.

The big drawback on these portable potties is that they can develop odor, they can be smelly and dirty to clean, and some dogs refuse to potty on them.

They are more suitable to outdoors where you have ventilation and mess isn’t as much of an issue.

An example of a more popular artificial grass portable potty patch is the PETMAKER Potty Trainer With Synthetic Grass (on Amazon) .

This is a smaller potty patch, so make sure to get a bigger path for larger breeds.

You’ll also need to train your dog with a leash and treats to use the patch.

Further to this, you might like to know that a popular alternative which requires NO cleaning to artificial grass dog potties are disposable real grass patches.

Most dogs prefer the feel and smell of real grass to fake grass, so these patches are perfect to let your dog do their business on, and throw away and replace every few weeks or every month depending on how much you use them.

The Doggie Lawn Disposable Dog Potty (on Amazon) is an example of a real grass disposable grass patch.

 

4. Artificial Grass Tiles

These are interlocking foam base tiles with synthetic grass on top.

There are several issues with them, mainly that the grass sheds and comes free from the foam too easily, and because of this artificial grass tiles aren’t as popular as they could be.

If a better designed grass tile becomes available that is more durable, the could become more popular, especially given that they are quite soft under foot.

 

Cleaning Artificial Grass

We wrote two guides on cleaning artificial grass which you can read here:

How To Clean Dog Poop Off Artificial Grass

How To Clean Dog Urine Off Artificial Grass

Overall, following the manufacturer cleaning instructions is the best way to clean artificial grass.

In general though, for the cheaper artificial grass, a water spray with the hose and picking up poop will be enough every now and then to clean waste.

If you want to remove stains and odors, you can use pet stain and odor removal products.

If you have the higher quality grass, a vacuum or air blow, a rinse with water, and cleaning with a disinfectant enzyme cleaner every now and then will suffice.

The higher quality artificial grass with anti microbial surfaces and good underside mesh drainage will trap a lot less waste and odors, compared to the cheap grass which waste and odor will basically stick to unless you clean them.

 

Cost Of Artificial Grass

There are three tiers of costs for artificial grass for dogs:

1. Expensive – Professionally Supplied and Installed Mesh Backed Artificial Grass

You will be looking at thousands of dollars to get a high quality, well designed and professionally installed mesh backed grass put into your yard.

 

2. Cheap to Moderate Price – Rubber Backed Artificial Grass

Rubber backed grass is cheap to moderate in price depending on how many square metres you get.

You can pretty much install it yourself.

 

3. Very Cheap – Artificial Grass Rugs and Mats, Artificial Grass Patch Potties

Rugs, mats and grass patch potties don’t need any installation, and are very cheap to purchase.

 

Durability Of Artificial Grass

Top quality mesh and professionally installed artificial grass is usually going to come with a 5-10 year warranty and guarantee for things like general wear and tear, and sun damage//fade – read the conditions for exact guarantees.

The rubber backed grass may or may not come with a warranty or guarantee, so it depends on the quality of the product, and how you use it as to how long it lasts.

Potties are going to last you a year or a few years.

The really cheap mats and rugs might last you months to a year. They tend to lose grass quite quickly and fray at the edges if they are very cheap.

Everything depends on the product itself though, and how you use it.

 

 

 

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