Artificial Grass vs Gravel: Which Surface is Better for Your Garden

Artificial grass vs gravel

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If you are trying to figure out what kind of surface to put on your garden, you may have been torn between artificial grass and gravel.

Gravel is a popular choice because it’s very inexpensive, but how does it really compare to our other option?

You might be wondering if the cost difference is worth the trade-offs in design flexibility or durability.

This blog post will give you an overview of both surfaces and help you decide which one is best for your needs!

Cost

The most obvious difference between artificial grass and gravel is the price. Artificial turf can cost as much as £120 per square meter, which makes it a pricey option for some homeowners.

Gravel only costs about £25 – £30 per square meter to install depending on the type!

Installation

If you are looking to install the surface yourself the gravel will be a lot easier to install. it is just a matter of levelling the area, laying down weed membrane and spreading the gravel on top of your existing surface.

Artificial turf requires a compacted sand base for low foot traffic areas and an added hardcore sub base for higher foot traffic areas. Laying out the grass, cutting and fixing it can also take some skill and effort.

Overall, we recommend getting your artificial grass professionally installed unless you are proficient with DIY projects.

Year round appeal

Both gravel and artificial grass can be used all year round, but each has its own pros and cons.

Gravel is more popular in the winter months when it doesn’t get too wet or cold for people to use it as a surface outdoors.

In fact, if you have an area of your garden that gets very little sun exposure then gravel can be the perfect choice for you.

As a patio area

If you are thinking of using this area as a patio, then gravel will be your best option. Gravel would give you a more natural appearance and is less likely to become puddles when it rains heavily or during the winter months.

Make sure to go for smaller 6 -10mm gravel which creates a more solid surface for furniture and walking.

Artificial grass does not work well as a patio area because it is not durable enough. Thin legs of furniture, BBQs and food spills all have the potential to damage artificial grass.

Artificial grass can be a great surface but should not be used as the main outdoor living space.

Lifespan

Artificial grass will last for many years, with the average lifespan of an artificial lawn surface being between 15-20 years.

Gravel can have a very long lifespan as its just stones however this lifespan can be reduced by weeds and soil ingress which happen gradually over the years.

If looked after well, both surfaces have a long lifespan.

Weeds

Surprisingly, weeds can be an issue in both surfaces.

While gravel can be prone to weeds, it is also likely that artificial grass will get them too if not maintained well enough to stop the roots growing through.

Artificial turf does have benefits over natural surfaces in terms of weed control as it is much easier to clean and weeds have a harder time finding a place to grow.

Over time the rain, people feet, birds, pets and people bring in organic mater which can act as food for weeds to grow from. This is unavoidable in both surfaces but regular cleaning and keeping on top any little weeds which do pop up can help greatly.

Dog friendly?

Both surfaces are popular with dog owners.

Dogs don’t often like artificial turf because it can get hot in summer or cold when wet which many dogs dislike. That being said, it can be one of the best surfaces for dogs because its sort, easy to clean and hard to dig up.

There are specific types of artificial grass which are suitable for pets. We have written a helpful article on choosing artificial grass for your dog.

Gravel can also be great for dogs because they can’t break it, its also really easy to clean and it doesn’t get smelly. This is a major advantage over artificial grass which can start to smell.

A word of caution if you do have gravel as a surface for pets though, make sure they can’t eat it. Puppies especially like to explore the world through their mouth, so it’s very important to make sure they can’t eat anything off the ground.

Heat

Some surfaces can get too hot in the sun which can be a risk for for children or pets who are not well-prepared for the heat. Artificial grass is one of those surfaces and in these circumstances, gravel would be a better option because it’s generally cooler to walk on.

If you are going for gravel then lighter colours will reflect more of the suns energy which means that the surface will stay much cooler.

Variety

Gravel is available in a range of colours and sizes which means you can really customise your garden to suit what its needs are. Artificial grass comes in just two options: green or brown so it’s not as flexible when deciding on the design

There are some fantastic types and sizes of gravel available now which can be used to create stunning designs at low costs.

If you want to make an amazing garden why not go for both!

Maintenance

If you’ve chosen artificial grass then the maintenance work will be slightly less than gravel. Artificial grass needs no watering, fertilising or mowing and even though it looks like real grass, its guaranteed never to grow! It does still need some cleaning especially if you have pets.

Gravel is a natural product which means that weeds would begin to invade your garden if left untreated. Gravel also has a habit of spilling out of place if it’s not well compacted and kept in with borders.

Drainage

Garden drainage always needs considered no matter the surface. When it comes down to it gravel has the upper hand here as water can flow freely though it however artificial grass still has very good drainage if it is installed properly.

Artificial grass needs to be laid on at least a 60mm thick grit sand and hardcore base which will allow water to move through it very quickly.

Neither surface is guaranteed to fix a drainage issue so if you are considering it for that reason think again. Drainage problems are most commonly issues with the sub base which will need a robust solution such as French drains.

Conclusion

The choice of a garden surface can be overwhelming, and we hope this article has helped you narrow down your options.

Consider what’s most important to you in regards to the type of surface you choose for your outdoor space- if it’s time saved or money spent, artificial grass might be right for you! If natural beauty is more important than anything else, then gravel may be perfect.

Either way, make sure that whatever decision you are making doesn’t affect a major part of life outside the home (such as pets).

We’ve provided all the benefits and drawbacks so that choosing one will seem like an easy task after reading our blog post; now go out there and get those green thumbs gardening!

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