Jonathan Mark Garden Design’s guide to lawns

We discuss the pros and cons of natural and synthetic lawns.

Synthetic lawns

In the last couple of years we have seen a big increase in demand for artificial turf (synthetic lawns), especially in smaller gardens.

Before picking the type of turf you have to firstly look at what the area is going to be used for. Is it a family garden and do you have children who will be using it as a football pitch? If so, a more hard-wearing lawn will have to be chosen and a lawn with a smaller pile height. A pile height is the height of each grass blade.

If the area is more ornamental then you should choose a longer pile height and a lawn that contains dead strands. This may seem odd, but having dead strands in it will make the lawn look more natural.

The great thing about synthetic lawns is that they can be used when you have a north-facing garden where a natural lawn would not grow well. Unfortunately, artificial turf can be very expensive to buy and even more expensive to install. It needs a firm base such as sharp sand and crushed stone. It also needs attaching to a wooden support which runs underneath the lawn.

The most important factor from a designing perspective is that the lawn comes in a maximum of 4-metre-wide rolls. These rolls, once laid down, can be connected to one another but you will always see the connecting point, therefore if the lawn area is bigger than 4 metres in width you might want to opt for a natural lawn.

profile close up view of Synthetic Lawns blades of grass
close up Synthetic Lawn grass blades
two square Synthetic Lawns with paths at either side
a square patch of Synthetic Lawn

Natural lawns

If you have the time to maintain a lawn and your plot is not facing north, then a natural lawn is often better than a synthetic one. Synthetic lawns look great but can feel a little prefabricated under foot. It can also feel odd lying down on a synthetic lawn.

Natural lawns are a lot more cost effective, as to install one you simply need to rotovate the soil, compress then rake it and then simply lay the lawn. Make sure that there is sufficient topsoil and you have thought through any possible drainage issues before you do this.

close up Natural Lawn with rolls of lawn in background
large circular Natural Lawn with square mown pattern
square Natural Lawn with slate stepping stone leading across
Natural Lawn grass texture