Artificial Turf vs. Natural Grass: Weighing the Green Benefits with a Focus on Health and Maintenance

When deciding between artificial turf and natural grass for your Southern California lawn, it’s not just about aesthetics or even simple maintenance. Both choices impact lifestyle, environmental sustainability, and health. While both options have their pros, if you’re leaning towards a more natural, eco-friendly, and health-conscious approach, grass has compelling advantages. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of both, emphasizing the natural benefits of living grass and considering the health implications of artificial alternatives.

Artificial Turf: Convenient but Potentially Costly to Health and Environment


  • Low Maintenance: No need for mowing, watering, or seeding, saving time and resources.
  • Water Conservation: Does not require watering, which is a significant plus in drought-prone regions like Southern California.


  • Heat Retention: Gets extremely hot in direct sunlight, potentially causing discomfort or even burns during hot weather.
  • Environmental Impact: Made from petroleum-based products, artificial turf is not biodegradable, contributing to environmental pollution upon disposal.
  • Health Risks: Artificial turf can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other chemicals, especially when new, which may pose health risks to children and pets who are in close contact with the surface.
  • Maintenance for Pet Owners: Requires regular cleaning and sanitizing, particularly if pets use it as a bathroom area; otherwise, it can harbor bacteria and odors.
  • Lack of Biodiversity: Does not support local wildlife like natural grass does, failing to provide food or habitat for various creatures.
  • Maintenance:  To keep it looking its best weekly vacuuming, brushing, washing, and weeding are required.  Weeds will find a way to germinate even in un-natural environments.

Weed growing around synthetic grass


Natural Grass: The Living Lawn with Lifelong Benefits


  • Environmental Cooling: Acts as a natural air conditioner, significantly reducing local temperatures.
  • Air Quality Improvement: Grass absorbs carbon dioxide and emits oxygen, improving air quality and capturing airborne pollutants.
  • Water Permeability: Allows water to soak into the soil, reducing runoff and helping prevent erosion, crucial for replenishing groundwater.
  • Natural Beauty and Comfort: Offers unmatched comfort and aesthetic appeal with its soft, varied green shades.


  • Water Usage: Requires more water, but using tools like the ET Irrigation Calculator can help manage this efficiently, providing customized watering schedules based on real-time data.
  • Maintenance Needs: Demands regular upkeep such as mowing and fertilization, but choosing a durable variety like Marathon Sod specifically designed for Southern California’s climate can minimize this.

The Clear Choice for Health and Environmental Wellbeing

For eco-conscious and health-oriented homeowners, natural grass is a clear winner. It avoids the health risks associated with the chemicals in artificial turf, offers a safe and natural environment for family activities, and supports local ecosystems. Artificial turf, while low on maintenance, comes with potential health risks from chemical exposure and requires significant effort to keep clean and sanitary, especially in homes with pets.

Furthermore, natural grass’s ability to cool the environment, improve air quality, and support biodiversity presents a strong case for its benefits beyond mere aesthetics. By choosing a robust, drought-tolerant grass like Marathon Sod and employing efficient watering practices, Southern Californians can enjoy the lush, life-supporting benefits of a natural lawn without an excessive water footprint.

In conclusion, though artificial turf might appeal for its maintenance profile, the natural, ecological, and health benefits of a living grass lawn are invaluable. Let’s nurture our landscapes in a way that also nurtures us—sustainably and safely.


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