A realistic appearance should be a “non-negotiable” trait for anyone choosing artificial grass for a home or business.
Let’s face it, low-quality, badly installed artificial grass looks terrible.
So, whether you’re looking for a beautiful synthetic lawn, a kids’ play area, a backyard soccer pitch or turf strips around a backyard swimming pool, the turf should look inviting, lush, and verdant all year.
The best artificial grass brands achieve that, closely resembling real grass and providing aesthetic and performance benefits—without the hard work or extra costs of keeping a real grass lawn in shape.
Here’s a rundown of the characteristics to look for in the most realistic grass brands and a few leading artificial grass products to look out for…
How to find realistic artificial grass: main considerations
Switching to artificial grass from natural grass is becoming a popular choice for North American homeowners—and it is projected to become even more common in the coming years.
To achieve an authentic look for your grass, you need to select the right product. The wrong grass can stick out like a sore thumb.
For realistic artificial grass, firstly be clear on what natural grass looks like in your area (it varies across the country), consider the purpose of the grass, and weigh up the main qualities and characteristics you need when selecting your turf.
Let’s look at the main factors to consider when you research particular artificial turf brands.
What does natural grass look like where you are?
The most common types of grasses in the southern states are:
- Bermuda grass
- Buffalo grass
- Centipede grass
- Zoysia grass
- St. Augustine Grass
If you want your artificial grass lawn to closely match the neighbors’ lawns, take a look at the type of grass they’re using first. You should be able to find suppliers of artificial grass in your local area that are well accustomed to matching the most common types of grass in your location.
Purpose of the turf
One homeowner may be looking to replace a grass lawn that takes too much work to maintain while another may want to add a backyard putting green or kids’ play area.
A lush lawn usually requires a very different look and feel to a putting green or dog run, so this is one of the first considerations when selecting realistic artificial turf.
If your artificial grass will mainly be seen from a distance rather than “up close”, you may prioritize different qualities (such as color over softness).
Qualities of the grass
The qualities of the grass can be broken down into several important considerations:
- Color: one of the first things you notice about grass. The color of your turf should closely resemble the color of healthy grass in your area, bearing in mind that most healthy grass has a layer of brown thatch (dead grass) below the verdant blades that give it its vibrant color. Cheaper grass does not have this but the most realistic artificial grass brands are more lifelike and include multicolor blades (different shades of green) as well as thatch.
- Sheen: in the early days of artificial grass, one of the criticisms was that it appeared too shiny. This has been corrected in the best synthetic turf brands, with glare-proof turf and an overall matte feel with just a little shine to resemble natural grass.
- Feel: how soft the artificial turf feels is especially important if you’re trying to emulate the lush feel of a backyard lawn or installing turf strips around a swimming pool. Perhaps the family wants to picnic on the lawn or kids play on it. A soft and luscious feel is more important in these situations than grass for a dog run, for instance. The materials and technology used to manufacture the grass have a big bearing on how soft it is (see more below).
- Blade shape: an often-overlooked aspect of how artificial turf looks is its blade shape. There are more options than you may imagine, from S-shaped blades to diamond-, V- or U-shapes, and many others. The blade shape you choose can affect the overall look and feel of the artificial grass and how closely it resembles natural grass in your area.
- Density: this is a measure of how many fibers or yarns are present per square foot of grass. Lawn grass generally requires high-density grass for a lush look and feel while sports grass may require lower density—but bear in mind that density also affects how well it stands up to wear and tear.
- Durability and “memory”: how well does the grass absorb pressure from foot traffic? The best artificial grass is made for moderate to high-traffic environments and the blades return naturally to their position after being repeatedly trodden on (no “matting”). Other less realistic brands of artificial grass easily lose their shape and may be best used in quieter areas—again the materials and technology used to make the grass affects this.
The best artificial grass generally consists of one type of plastic for the grass fibers/thatch and another for its permeable backing.
The installation is stabilized and cushioned using a base layer material that is laid under the grass “carpet”. A crumb rubber, plastic or silica infill usually also adds to the realistic look and feel of grass.
The grass blades are typically made from nylon, polypropylene or polyethylene. Each material brings slightly different properties to the grass area, affecting the durability, feel, and appearance of the turf:
- Nylon: provides a very natural look and feel with good durability (usually the most expensive option).
- Polypropylene: excellent durability for high foot-traffic areas and pet areas but sometimes looks slightly less natural than nylon.
- Polyethylene: combines the realistic look and feel of nylon with the robustness of polypropylene.
The most realistic artificial grass brands now standardly use polyethylene because of its all-round qualities and benefits for both appearance and performance.
A long way from AstroTurf
When AstroTurf was installed at the Houston Astrodome in 1966, it was the first use of synthetic turf for an athletic field.
This first generation of synthetic turf looked and felt like a short-pile carpet and it had a foam backing.
Fortunately, design changes and the use of technology since those early days have greatly improved the quality and number of choices available for both home and business owners when installing artificial turf.
Main differences between modern artificial grass and AstroTurf
The best artificial grass available these days is very different from the AstroTurf of the 1960s and 1970s:
- More realistic appearance—multicolor blades and thatch
- Softer and lusher for backyard lawns, sports fields, etc.
- Better drainage prevents pooling of water
- Better durability and resilience help it last longer in high-traffic areas
- Less slippery and easier to change direction on
- More cushioned to absorb impact
- Can be installed with computer-aided-drafting for perfectly level surfaces
- Offers greater protection for athletes
Overall, the most realistic artificial grass brands made today are much more sophisticated than their counterparts from decades ago—which is good news if you’re considering making the switch from real grass or upgrading an old artificial turf area.
The most realistic artificial grass brands
When you invest in turf, you’re making a significant investment. The upfront costs of artificial grass are high so you need your grass to look realistic and last the distance—the longer your grass lasts, the more money you save over real grass!
Let’s take a look at a few of the most realistic artificial grass brands for homeowners in Texas, Georgia, and beyond:
Bermuda Blend is a polyethylene-based turf with a mix of olive green and field green turf fibers that deliver a superior natural aesthetic.
The turf’s mini-wave-shaped yarn fibers are highly durable and disperse sunlight, giving the turf a low sheen and a surface that is 15 degrees cooler to the touch. This synthetic grass is perfect for southern backyards and is suitable for moderate to heavy traffic. The pile height is approximately 1.5 inches.
All Play was engineered as a type of pet turf but has since been installed for many uses, including standard backyard lawns.
This is a long-lasting, realistic turf with revolutionary drainage technology that makes it extremely low maintenance, free of staining, and very hygienic. The fibers are made of polyethylene and can handle high traffic, with a pile height of approximately 1 1/8 inches and a face weight of 78 ounces.
Mohave Blend Pro
Mohave Blend Pro is another leading lawn turf that looks realistic in southern backyards.
The turf contains soft, wave-shaped blades and rich field- and olive-toned yarn. With a dense face weight and a 1 7/8-inch pile height, Mohave Blend Pro is ideal for a back or front yard looking for a plush lawn.
Natural Blend is another realistic-looking grass. Its unique mini-wave-shaped yarn blades provide durability and texture and its dynamic tone blend of field, olive, and brown fibers atop brown thatch makes it almost indistinguishable from real grass.
These characteristics make Natural Blend ideal for a wide range of residential and commercial applications.
Professional installation for a realistic grass look…
There’s no great secret to making artificial grass areas look realistic in your home. Understand where the turf is being installed and why, the main characteristics of local grass, and invest in high-quality artificial grass. Then have it installed by local professionals.
Consulting with turf professionals before selecting and installing your grass can help you closely match the look and feel you’re after.
For a quote from our artificial turf professionals in Austin, TX or Atlanta, GA, contact Artificial Grass Pros.