When the sun is shining it’s lovely for your children to play outside in your garden. And although you may assume natural grass is best for your little ones, artificial grass can also be a good option.
There are some positive aspects to having artificial grass in your garden and it can be completely safe to play on.
Maintenance of fake grass
You won’t need to apply weed killer or spend time mowing the grass. And as fake grass does not get so wet and muddy as natural grass lawns, children can play out a little easier whatever the weather.
However, some parents may be concerned about harmful chemicals in synthetic turf and whether this would affect the health of their children.
What is artificial turf?
There are different types of materials in artificial grass. Synthetic turf tends to use products that layer sand, pellets or recycled tyres which together provide stability and resilience to walking and playing on.
Some artificial grass that is made from recycled rubber (known as crumb rubber) which typically contains toxic substances and may carry health risks.
What is wrong with crumb rubber?
About ten years ago a news investigation by NBC News, found that there was a potential link between crumb rubber turf and cancer among people who play on that turf (children, sports teams etc over a long period of time).
Health risks with synthetic rubber
Arsenic, benzene, and mercury are just a few of the 30 components that are in crumb rubber. There has been concern that these toxins can also cause skin infections or irritations to children and pets who play on these types of artificial lawn.
Is artificial turf safe for children?
Research has found that some types of synthetic grass can contain chemicals that cause concern for children who play on them, particularly over long periods of time or on fake grass inside buildings. (Source Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health).
These chemicals can give an increased risk of irritation and cancer to some people if they are exposed for long periods of time. The named chemical of most concern was benzothiazole.
But there have been a number of changes and safety standards with fake grass that make it a sustainable choice for your home.
Is natural and synthetic rubber grass safe?
Despite these concerns, there are concluding studies to show that playing on quality artificial grass outside will not harm children.
Synthetic turf can be safe for your children if you select high-quality non-toxic infill. You can select infill that is free from heavy metals (such as mercury), and be allergen and dust-free.
You can also help your child play safely by including shock pads and quality backing material with your fake grass, to avoid any nasty injuries to your garden.
How to choose toxic-free turf?
You can check that your fake grass has high-quality, traceable materials that pass rigorous safety standards. Make sure your turf is lead free and is perfectly safe for your little ones to play on hot days.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) have found potentially harmful lead levels in some cheaper turf fibers and in rubber crumbs.
Exposure to heavy metals such as mercury and lead can be associated with developmental delay, learning difficulties, aggressive behavior, nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue, headache, and more.
Parents and organisations can question schools and councils about the type of synthetic grass being used in their areas and push for testing and/or replacement should the turf prove to contain crumb rubber and hazardous substances.
Is Artificial Turf Allergen-Free?
Some artificial turf fields may cause allergies similar to hay fever, so it is worth researching turf companies to check the type of rubber infill they use and check there is no risk to public health.
You may also find that although good quality fake turf should be allergen-free, you may still suffer from hayfever from nearby grass fields, flowers, and trees. This is something to consider when you are looking for landscape solutions for your garden.
Another positive aspect to note with artificial turfs is that they do not catch fire and burn. We’ve all witnessed natural grass burning and seen how dangerously fast fire can spread. Good quality turf companies should have turf that is non-toxic and fireproof.
The cost of artificial turf
Laying fake grass in your garden can provide an instant transformation to your garden.
Cost-wise you will look at spending around £15 to £25 per square metre for a mid-range.
Lower ranges are more obviously fake and maybe suited more to commercial uses than your back garden. Cheaper types may also contain harmful chemicals.
Real lawn -v- real turf
Of course, no matter what type of fake grass you may choose, it won’t last forever. Over time, wear and tear may result in holes or rips which could be a tripping hazard for your children.
However, you can may find that synthetic rubber turf can be cleaner as you can easily wash it down with a hose, particularly if you have dog mess on it. Fake grass may also be more suitable for sports fields.
All environments contain bacteria, but artificial turf contains anti-microbial agents that help fight bacteria and can help to make the space safer and cleaner.
Any holes or bare patches may also result in slippery surfaces when it rains. But with artificial turfs there are no mucky grass stains to wash off your clothes or muddy marks on your shoes.
Is natural grass really natural?
Natural grass is only natural if it doesn’t contain any pesticides or weed killers. Some of these products can be harmful to children and pets.
How long does fake grass last?
However, artificial grass is pretty long-lasting and when it is new, has good drainage so that you will avoid pools of water on your lawn when it rains. Finding the right solution is all about weighing up the balance between your budget and how long you intend to live at your property with your kids.
Some final thoughts on artificial lawns
The life expectancy can be around 10-15 years depending on the quality and usage.
You are unlikely to attract as many bees and creepy crawlies to your garden that children might not like which might be a good thing if you are concerned about them.
High-quality artificial lawns have non-toxic materials are lead free and are perfectly safe for your garden.
Fake lawns mean no more digging out the lawnmower and replacing plastic blades on hot days.
Artificial turn requires less maintenance over time allowing your kids more time to play.
The look of synthetic turf has really improved over recent years and can look and feel very natural.