For decades, the ideal version of the suburban home has evolved in our collective consciousness.  While the size, and layout may have changed over the years, there is one element of the perfect pad that has not.  A well-maintained, lush expanse of green grass has long been the considered cherry on the top of the unparalleled property.  Yes, it is truly a beautiful thing to behold.  So beautiful, perhaps, that you decide to take a closer look.  Consider, for a moment, that as you approach this beguiling grass, you notice that it seems a little “too Perfect.”  Imagine your astonishment when, upon closer inspection, you realize the unthinkable… this lawn is… fake.  Gasp.  

For many, the thought of artificial grass evokes images of mini golf courses or football fields, not the dreamy, luxurious yard of the suburban dream home.  However, the products used today have come quite a long way and are becoming increasingly popular among homeowners.  Additionally, it is becoming increasingly more common for homeowners associations to instal turf in common areas as a way to save money while preserving aesthetics.  

What is Turf

Generally speaking, artificial grass is a product that is created from synthetic materials, made to look like real grass.  Blades can be made to be different lengths, shades and textures, depending on the desired result and  use.  There are different types of turf for you to consider based on where you plan to place it, and how you plan to use it.  There are products made specifically for home lawns and landscaping, made to look as close as possible to the real thing, even in large spaces.  Other products are tailored to be used by our furry friends in areas like dog-runs and puppy play areas.  Other turf is specifically engineered to be used around children’s play structures, which are created to be especially soft and less abrasive to tiny knees and elbows.

What are the Benefits?

Low-Maintenance

It is true, when you make the decision to lay down the fake stuff, you will no longer spend your Saturday mornings trailing behind a roaring mower, or digging up those pesky weeds in the middle of your printine greenery.  For many, weighing out the amount of time that they could gain back by simply not having to tend to a yard is enough to send them turning to turf.   For an HOA, there will no longer be the need to hire out these duties, which could surely save a chunk of change each year.  

Water Bills

Many homeowners are finding it increasingly difficult to pay the, at times exorbitant, amount required to keep their lawn looking lush and healthy.  This becomes even more difficult when watering restrictions are put into place (as they are in many areas of the country), in order to conserve water in times of drought.  When the association requires that lawns are kept green, yet the watering restrictions put into place by local governments make this challenging, homeowners are left in a rather difficult position.  It would seem that artificial grass could be the answer to this problem, since watering is not necessary and most products are guaranteed to remain rich and green for years and years and years.  

Downsides?

$$$

If you are looking toward artificial grass as the savior of your monthly budget, you may want to think again.  While it is true that you could significantly cut the cost of your monthly water bill, the installation of artificial grass is a significant investment up front.  Prices vary, but, on average, you can expect to pay between $10-$15 per square foot.  Depending on the size of your project(s), your budget can balloon rather quickly.  You will also want to do your due diligence when researching the best company for your installation.  If your yard is installed incorrectly, you could be looking at incredibly costly fixes whether they be immediate, or a couple of years down the road.  You may also need to invest in some specialty tools for upkeep, but your installer can direct you as to the best tools for the specific turf that you have selected.  

Resale

For a homeowner thinking that they may decide to put their home on the market in the near future, resale is something that should be considered before making any major changes to a home, landscaping included.  It is unclear how installing a lawn full of fake grass will affect the resale value of a home.  There is still a bit of a stigma in the minds of some homebuyers surrounding turf, which could make a home with such an accessory a hard-sell.  Conversely, it is possible that you may find a very specific type of buyer that is looking for a low-maintenance option that would be willing to seek out homes that have made the switch to the fake stuff.  

Consider Your Specifics

If your home or building adjacent to your common greenspace has southern facing windows that receive a great deal of sun during the day, the reflection off of the glass has been known to actually melt the turf.  

Language in your CC&Rs

For board members, regardless of which side of the turf isle you find yourself on, you’ll want to be sure that the wording in your governing documents regarding artificial grass is very clear.  For many associations, it may be time to consider rewiring these sections, either because turf is omitted completely, or the phrasing regarding lawn and yard care is not completely clear, which could leave you at odds with homeowners considering artificial grass as an option.