We want our yard beautiful, but the age-old debate of choosing between artificial grass, paving, or decking has left homeowners pondering the best way to achieve both aesthetics and functionality.
I have tried all of those so I will be sharing my personal insights and experiences to help you navigate through the pros and cons of each option.
Read on and discover which landscaping choice will not only enhance the allure of your outdoor space but also align seamlessly with your lifestyle. Let’s start the comparison.
Artificial Turf: The Low-Maintenance Lawn
Today’s artificial grass comes a long way from the AstroTurf of old stadiums and mini golf courses. Modern “synthetic lawn” mimics lush, even green grass using sturdy backing and advanced polymers that feel softer and more realistic. Proper drainage underneath avoids any soggy spots or pooling.
The main benefits:
- Virtually no maintenance – no endless mowing, watering, or fertilizing
- Stays uniformly green in all seasons and weather
- Long lifespan of 15-25 years with reasonable care
- Thrives anywhere – yards, patios, rooftops, you name it
- Withstands kids and pets tromping all over it
- No mud or allergens – always looks tidy
- Drought-friendly – saves thousands of gallons of water
- Special UV protection keeps the color vibrant
- Looks just as appealing for curb appeal and home value
- Blends beautifully into gardens and other landscapes
- High initial installation cost
- Not 100% like walking on real grass
- Can get pretty hot under the sun
- Not considered the most eco-friendly
- Limited recycling options when it wears out
- “Infill” materials may get tracked inside
Synthetic turf is ideal if you want:
- Super low-maintenance landscaping
- Lush lawn in shady areas where real grass struggles
- turf around pools or patios and other hardscapes
- To conserve water
- Greenery on balconies or rooftops
- Durable play surfaces for kids and pets
The Pros and Cons of Paving Materials
For patios, paths, driveways and other hardscapes, concrete, pavers, bricks, and natural stone create durable, low-maintenance surfaces.
- Lasts for decades if properly installed
- Just an occasional pressure wash required for maintenance
- Tons of style options – patterns, stamps, colors, stone textures
- Allows creative and artistic designs
- Smooth surface for patio furniture and backyard living
- Can increase home value with beautiful landscaping
- Responsible drainage prevents runoff problems
- High cost for installation, especially natural stone and custom work
- Can crack and shift over time
- Gets extremely hot under sunlight
- Can cause drainage issues if not installed correctly
- Lacks greenery – the classic turf vs. pavement debate
- Weeds can sprout in joints and seams
Ideal situations for paving:
- Want minimum maintenance and maximum durability
- Building a patio, walkway, pool deck
- Contempo or modern design theme
- Accenting green spaces in your yard
- Designing an outdoor living and entertainment space
The Appeal of Decking for Backyards
Decks provide elevated, multi-level platforms for yards using wood or composite boards. This creates functional “outdoor rooms” while allowing air flow and light through.
- Even, smooth surface for furniture and living space
- Fully customizable size, shape and height
- Stays cooler than solid pavement with airflow underneath
- Generally cheaper and easier to install than pavers
- Beautiful natural wood grain if maintained
- Can incorporate stairs, lighting, pergolas
- Expands usable yard space
- Adds aesthetic value for potential home buyers
- Wood requires ongoing sealing, repairs and replacement
- Materials deteriorate faster than paving – 10-15 years lifespan
- Must keep cleaned, sealed and stained
- Poor drainage causes splintering, rotting, warping
- Can get slippery when wet
- May need railings for safety on elevated decks
- Elevated decks require foundation work
Ideal for decking:
- Multi-level patios and entertaining areas
- Yards suited to natural, woodsy style
- Existing elevation changes to build off of
- Alternative to ground-level paving
- Boosting overall backyard appeal and use
Key Factors to Compare Your Options
Artificial grass is expensive initially but lowest long-term costs. Paving is priciest to install but extremely durable. Decking is cheapest to build but requires the most maintenance.
Synthetic turf needs little besides occasional cleaning. Paving mainly just needs pressure washing. Decking requires the most ongoing care – washing, sealing, repairing and replacing boards.
Paving lasts 50+ years with proper base prep. Artificial grass typically lasts 15-25 years before replacement. Wood or composite decking averages 10-15 years before major repairs or rebuilding.
All allow for beautiful designs! Artificial grass looks vibrant but less natural. Paving is modern and clean but lacks greenery. Decking provides natural wood beauty if maintained properly.
Proper grading and drainage is crucial to avoid runoff with any outdoor surface. Paving increases hardscape while decking consumes lumber. Artificial grass recyclability and infill are considerations.
Also Read – Does Artificial Grass Get Damaged By The Sun?
The Bottom Line for Your Yard
Often a combination of materials creates a beautifully designed and functional outdoor environment. An overall paved area with decking for raised patios and turf lawns balances the benefits of each.
Analyze your yard’s layout, existing features, problem areas, and your lifestyle and taste. This will help determine whether artificial grass, paving materials, decking, or a mix is right for you. With the pros and cons outlined here, you can make the best choice to maximize your outdoor living space.