Astroturf sounds like it can really be a perfect solution for you: it’s low maintenance, it saves water, it is good for pets and kids, it always looks good no matter the weather. But what about the cost of Astroturf? Can you afford to put it into your Houston yard?
Well, you may be surprised. Because while, yes, Astroturf is more expensive to lay than traditional sod, it pays for itself in reduced upkeep and maintenance in just a few years.
Plus, there are many places in your yard that you might want a special astroturf area, even if the rest of your yard is regular grass. Let’s look a little closer.
Installation Cost Comparison: Astroturf vs. Sod
Well, let’s just lay all our cards on the table: Astroturf, no matter the brand, is going to be more expensive than sod when you install it. In Houston, sod costs about $1.35 per square foot, while artificial grass can cost anywhere from $6 to $20 a foot to install.
If you have an average-sized home, then you’ve got probably somewhere close to 500 square feet of lawn. That means that if you install sod, it’ll probably be somewhere around $675, compared to $3,000 to $10,000 for Astroturf.
We’ll go with an average and put the price at $6,000. (The price difference depends on variables such as the brand of grass you’re installing–they’re not all the same–and differences in your yard: a flat square would be cheaper than small hills, curves, water features, and putting greens.)
Based just on the installation cost, you might think that your decision should be obvious: sod should be the way to go, right? It’s so much cheaper.
Well, let’s look at Astroturf in the long term.
Upkeep Cost Comparison: Astroturf vs. Sod
Now comes the important part: what pays off bigger in the end?
Here are all of the upkeep costs that you need to consider when purchasing Astroturf: 0. Yes, that’s right. There are zero upkeep costs for Astroturf. You install it and you’re done. No routine maintenance, no yearly inspection. Nothing.
Here are all of the upkeep costs that you need to consider when purchasing sod:
- Water: Watering your lawn can cost upwards of $100 a year.
- Fertilizer: Fertilizing your lawn is around $100 a year.
- Maintenance (including mowing, weeding, trimming, and the cost to upkeep that equipment): Around $650 a year
- Time: Well, that’s up to you to decide how much your time is worth, but taking care of a lawn is at least an hour and a half a week that you could be spending doing something more fun.
- So if we add up the Year One costs of that 500 square foot lawn as Astroturf, it comes to an average of $6,000. If we add up the Year One costs of 500 square feet of sod, it comes to $1,525 a month.
- Multiply the numbers out a bit….
- At Year Six your total cost of Astroturf has still been $6,000. But your total cost of sod has been $5,775. Which means…
- In Year Seven, your Astroturf has paid for itself.
But How Long Do Astroturf Lawns Last?
After we broke down the numbers above and saw that you break even a little after Year Six, you may be wondering to yourself if your Astroturf is still any good. Perhaps after all those years the Astroturf has started to wear and look a little worse. Maybe it’s in need of a little upkeep itself.
Nope. The average lifespan of an Astroturf lawn is anywhere from 15 to 25 years. So let’s look at those numbers again:
- At Year Ten, your Astroturf lawn will still have only cost $6,000. But at Year Ten, your sod will have cost you $9,175.
- At Year Fifteen, the Astroturf will still be $6,000, but the sod will be $13,425.
And that’s on the low end of when you might need to replace your artificial lawn. So you see, investing in the Astroturf up front, even though it is initially more expensive, will cost you less than half of the cost of sod in fifteen years.
And let’s not forget time. Assuming you are spending an hour and half per week mowing your lawn, spraying for weeds, pulling dandelions, moving sprinklers, then that REALLY adds up over fifteen years. How much? That’s the equivalent of 1170 hours, or nearly 49 days. 49 days spent doing yard work when you could have had that time to play with your kids, to work on a hobby, to enjoy some personal time, or to work on self-improvement. How do you put a cost on 49 days?
Perfect Opportunities For Astroturf
But maybe you enjoy a little yardwork, and you don’t mind mowing the lawn once in a while. What are some uses for Astroturf that you might not have thought of?
- Put a putting green in the backyard. Putting greens are notoriously hard to maintain because you have to keep all the grass at the perfect length, and no regular lawn mower can mow a perfect putting green. Why not install one in your backyard?
- How about a dog run? Lots of people keep their dogs in a fenced off part of the yard where the dog can run and run and… the grass turns to dirt pretty fast. Astroturf won’t wear out like grass will under the feet of your canine companion. Dogs won’t wear trails into the turf the same way they would on sod.
- What about aging parents? You love your parents (or grandparents) and they want to keep their house but they’re just too old to maintain it. Give them a yard they can be proud of without having to get down on their hands and knees to pull at weeds or lift grass clippings.
- You’re in an area that floods when it rains. We know Houston weather and we know that a lawn can turn into a muddy pit in just a few hours during a torrential rainstorm. Want to make sure that your lawn stays perfectly healthy instead of swampy? Astroturf.
- On the flipside, maybe there’s a stretch of your yard that is impossible to keep green: it’s in the heat of the sun all day, perhaps with hot sun reflected off the house, too, and there’s no way to put up trees or fencing to shield it. Keep it green by making it Astroturf.
While Astroturf has a high initial cost in Year One, the cost of maintaining a regular sod lawn over fifteen years is more than double that of an Astroturf lawn. The numbers don’t lie: if you can make the investment now, an artificial grass lawn will more than pay for itself both in time and money.
What are you going to do with all the free time you have not mowing your lawn?