If you are new to landscaping or yard maintenance, you may easily get confounded by terms used by gardeners or horticulturists.
Turning to the web for help may prove counter-effective because of how interchangeably some words are used, which may confuse you further.
You’ve come to the right place if you’re trying to understand the difference between the three most commonly used yard maintenance terms.
Here, we talk about the lawn vs grass vs turf comparison, highlight their differences, and list down their uses.
Lawn Vs Grass Vs Turf
The term lawn refers to commercial or residential land covered in well-maintained grass.
A lawn is for public use and is located near residential or commercial areas and is commonly referred to as a park.
The grass-covered part of Central Park in New York is a lawn, so is any other public park in your block or near your office.
Grass refers to the vegetation that is planted to create lawns.
It consists of long narrow leaves with roots buried underground.
It grows wild and is also cultivated for commercial use or as animal feed.
For professional landscaping requirements, people buy turfs to give the look of visually aesthetic grass.
Turf or Sod is essentially patches of grass with a layer of soil in which the roots are embedded.
Farmer’s harvest turfs for resale which are then utilized to establish new lawns and fulfill other landscaping requirements.
Getting a turf to establish roots and settle into a new piece of land requires a significant amount of care.
There are full-time caretakers that regularly treat the grass in community parks to maintain it.
In football and baseball fields, natural vegetation becomes harder to maintain because of the abuse it undergoes during a game.
An increasing number of people are now opting for artificial or Astroturf for these applications.
Astroturf is an artificial turf of grass that’s made of plastic. Its most common application is in the sports field, primarily because maintaining it requires zero effort, whereas the upkeep of natural grass in such situations is a challenge.
To further simplify the difference between the terms, think of it this way; the grass is the plant, turf is how the grass is harvested, and the lawn is one application of turfs, which is primarily grass.
Mostly, the question is not about lawn vs grass vs turf but real vs. artificial.
Real Grass Vs. Astroturf
Artificial grass is becoming increasingly popular for both commercial and residential use.
Often, you see it marketed as eco-friendly in comparison to real grass.
However, it may look like the actual thing, but it does not provide the same feel, which is why many still bow towards real grass when making their decision.
Here, we offer the pros and cons of both real and artificial grass to help you make an informed decision.
Real Grass Pros
- Yards or lawns with actual grass are visually appealing.
- Besides posing as an attraction, lawns with actual grass offer significant environmental benefits. Much like any other plantation, a grass field releases oxygen and absorbs carbon dioxide.
- It significantly reduces noise pollution. Urban areas with concrete pathways and buildings are often noisier than suburban areas where there are parks and well-maintained yards. This is because grass absorbs noise, acting as an insulation panel.
- Plants and greenery can help lower temperatures as well. An area surrounded by trees and grass is relatively cooler than one surrounded by tall concrete buildings, even in the middle of summer.
- Actual grass improves soil structure by loosening it up and relieving soil compaction. Soil, when bound tightly together, increases the water runoff rate, which adversely affects the groundwater table. Well planted and aerated grass can maintain air pockets located in the soil while keeping it together with the help of a healthy root network.
- During storms, when rainwater does not find an entrance to seep into the ground, it results in stormwater runoff. Lawns and yards provide that much-needed opening into the earth, allowing excess water to soak into the soil, replenishing the groundwater.
Real Grass Cons
- Real grass is not as easy to install as it requires significant soil preparation.
- You first have to clear the land of old grass turfs and then ensure that it’s free from weeds. Weeding is particularly critical as it saves you a lot of time and maintenance effort later.
- The next step is to level the ground and then rake it to remove all debris and stones that could hinder the new grass installation process.
- Buying the right variety of turf is just as essential as is its installation. You must install the Sod within 24 hours after delivery. Otherwise, the roots begin to wither, and reviving them becomes next to impossible.
- It requires substantial maintenance to keep it in the best possible shape. You have to regularly mow it and monitor it for thatch and soil compaction. Once or twice a year, depending upon the amount of use the yard goes through, you will have to dethatch it and aerate it as well.
- Setting an appropriate watering schedule that is ideal for the type of grass and the weather conditions can be challenging.
All these hurdles are why many now prefer Astroturf over real grass, and while that has benefits, it also has some significant disadvantages that we shall discuss.
- Artificial grass is the choice for you if you want your yard to look perfect without one-third of the effort required to maintain natural grass. While Astroturf does not require mowing, dethatching or aerating, it does require some looking after.
- You only need to occasionally water the turf to wash away accumulated dirt and keep it looking fresh and clean.
- Running a rake through the blades keeps the fibers upright and fluffy, which keeps the yard visually appealing all year round.
- A household with children and overly active pets should go for Astroturf as it is quite sturdy. Your pet won’t be able to tear through it to dig for hidden bones or insects. Children running around are no longer an issue as simply running a rake over the yard can bring the turf back to life.
- Astroturf is often marketed as environmentally friendly as it requires less water for maintenance and needs no fertilizers or new seeds. No harmful chemicals or pesticides are going into the ground.
- Astroturf has none of the benefits associated with real grass besides visual appeal.
- Instead of binding the soils together, artificial grass does the opposite and instead contributes to soil compaction.
- Tightly bound together soil subsequently increases stormwater runoff rate, which adversely affects groundwater resources. Areas that are dependent on groundwater as their primary water source may face the brunt of this decision years down the line in the form of reduced precipitation.
- With Astroturf, you get reduced biodiversity and will be unable to plant herbs or flowers in your yard. So, while you may have a forever green and apparently well-maintained yard, you won’t have the creative liberty to plant and grow what you want or need.
What Exactly do you Have in our Garden/Yard?
What you have in your yard depends upon your preference.
One thing we can say for sure is that you’re bound to have some form of grass, whether real or fake.
You can opt to plant seeded grass or turfs, and both will give you the same benefits.
They do, however, require different levels of maintenance and care.
They also have varying soil preparation and fertilization requirements.
Seeded grass takes a while to grow and fill in gaps inland.
It may take a month or more before your yard starts to look plush, green, and inviting.
During the initial seeding phase, you need to hold back on the water supply to ensure the roots dig deep in search of water and become stronger.
Stressful conditions also promote new grass growth as a survival tactic often employed by vegetation.
Aided by fertilizers and seeds, you can have a beautiful yard or garden in no time.
Turfs are easier to lay and maintain.
They are also more visually appealing than seeded grass as they come in continuous patches lain on the soil.
Soil preparation and watering conditions are again critical to maintaining and promoting healthy growth.
In any case, the grass needs to be burdened to get the roots to establish a durable and robust network.
If you don’t want to bother with the maintenance and care, then you can opt for Astroturf as well.
They don’t particularly have any soil preparation requirements except that the area should be free from rocks and other debris.
Your choice depends upon your preference and the level of maintenance and cares you can commit to.
It really isn’t lawn vs. grass vs. turf but about seeded vs. turf and real vs. fake.
The area where you plant grass in your yard, whether real or fake, will be your lawn.
We suggest you stay real in every aspect of life.
But you are free to fake it if you like.