30.4.2021

Updated:

9.7.2021

10 min read

Share on:

If you’re wondering what type of lawn to go for, we’ve got you covered. After reading this, you’ll know what type of lawn best suits your needs, budget and lifestyle.

Plus you’ll get some practical lawn advice from one of our professional Landscapers who’s been in the trade for 25+ years.

Let’s dive in.

Key deciding factors can include whether or not you have pets or children.

7 Key Factors That Will Help Narrow Down Your Choice

We’ve covered the options available in New Zealand. Now to choose a suitable lawn for your property, consider these seven key aspects:

Budget — How much are you prepared to invest? Upfront and ongoing.

Aesthetics — Are potential patches okay, or do you need a manicured look?

Functionality — Do you need the lawn for the kids, pets or entertaining?

Environmental — Does your carbon footprint impact your buying decisions?

Timing — Are you on a tight time schedule? Or can you wait for optimal conditions?

Maintenance — How much time are you willing to put into the care and upkeep?

Longevity — What lifespan are you expecting from your lawn?

An impressive lawn takes time. How much are you willing to put into the care and upkeep?

Upfront Considerations: The Important Stuff

As a starting point, this is what you need to know. For the natural, hydroseed and instant lawn you can add upwards of $50 for the upfront costs of top soil, fertiliser and sprays.

Upfront Costs Timing Upfront Effort Foot traffic
Natural Lawn seed
Approx $30 – $60 per bag
Autumn and Spring Very high Two or more months
Hydroseed Hydroseeding
Approx $25+ per m2
September to April High At least six weeks
Instant Turf
Approx $50+ per m2
Year-round with adequate water Medium At least two weeks
Artificial Turf
Approx $100+ per m2
Anytime Low Immediately

Instant lawn, or ready lawn, needs to be rolled out as soon as it’s delivered. 

Ongoing Considerations: Once Everything’s Been Established

Once the lawn is established, it comes down to comparing the two types: natural and artificial. To decide which type is right for your lifestyle, compare these ongoing elements.

Ongoing Costs Aesthetics Functionality Longevity Upkeep
Real grass Fertiliser
Sprays
Water
Gardening equipment
Lawn seed
Lush with a few imperfections here and there Best suited for everyday properties
& homeowners with kids or pets
1 season or indefinitely
(depending on level of maintenance)
Watering
Mowing
Fertilising
Weeding
Spraying
Dethatching
Fake grass Water
Detergents
Manicured and green all year round Best suited for smaller properties
& homeowners with busy lifestyles
Approx 15 – 20 year life expectancy

Hosing
Brushing
Raking

Imagine it’s Saturday morning – are you out mowing? Or having a sleep in?

Your Ultimate Pros and Cons List

There’s nothing better than a good pros and cons list to help you make an important decision. We’ve done the hard yards and listed all the factors you can weigh up to see which lawn is right for you.

Natural

Pros Cons
  • Low up-front costs

  • Natural feeling underfoot

  • Looks great when maintained

  • Good for air quality

  • Option to use variety of seeds to protect against disease

  • Prevents soil erosion

  • Cools the surrounding area

  • Encourages biodiversity of your garden

  • The satisfying feeling of putting in time and effort to grow from seed

  • High ongoing costs

  • Time-intensive undertaking

  • Long wait time for new growth

  • Needs protection against birds and foot traffic in early stages

  • Ongoing maintenance

  • Requires water, fertiliser, pesticide and herbicide

  • Yellow spots from pet urine

  • Potential of patchy growth

  • May need to re-sow seeds to thicken

  • Cost of gardening equipment

  • Feelings of frustration if lawn doesn’t grow successfully

Hydroseed

Pros Cons
  • Results visible within 2 – 4 weeks

  • Higher chance of germination compared to sowing seeds by hand

  • Prevents seed and soil erosion by wind and light rain (the mulch mixture helps bond the seed to the soil)

  • Offers some protection from birds

  • Keeps seeds warm and hydrated (to encourage growth)

  • Cools the surrounding area

  • Encourages biodiversity of your garden

  • Requires careful watering after initial application

  • May not germinate successfully

  • Ongoing maintenance

  • Requires water, fertiliser, pesticide and herbicide

  • Yellow spots from pet urine

  • Cost of gardening equipment

Real vs fake grass: modern developments are making it harder to tell the difference

Instant

Pros Cons
  • Quick transformation from soil to lawn

  • Matured at time of installation, providing a ‘complete’ look

  • Cut-to-fit all lawn shapes

  • Install any time of year

  • Even coverage

  • Less likely to be impaired by cold weather

  • Prevents soil erosion

  • Cools the surrounding area

  • Encourages biodiversity of your garden

  • While instant, site needs preparing 2-3 weeks prior

  • Requires careful watering in early stages of rollout

  • May not transplant successfully

  • Ongoing maintenance

  • Requires water, fertiliser, pesticide and herbicide

  • Yellow spots from pet urine

  • Cost of gardening equipment

  • More prone to disease due to some brands using a single variety of grass seed

Artificial

Pros Cons
  • Long-term savings

  • Low maintenance (zero mowing)

  • Consistent look year-round

  • Conserves water

  • Easy to tidy

  • Allergy-friendly

  • No weeds

  • Install any time of year

  • No fertiliser, pesticide or herbicide

  • Pet urine won’t cause discolouration

  • Less mud in the garden

  • High up-front costs

  • Absorbs heat which may cause discomfort on hot days

  • Sun exposure may cause colour fading in later years

  • Products contain petrochemicals

  • Most products not biodegradable

  • Drainage can become a problem if not leveled properly prior to installment

  • Reduces biodiversity of your garden

  • Knowing it’s not real grass

Consider how you’ll use the space and what’s important to you.

Practical Advice from a Professional Landscaper (That Will Save you Time and Money)

After weighing up the pros and cons, you may be closer to deciding which lawn you’re going for. If you need a little more information, here’s some specific project advice from Paul Motley of Supreme Services who’s been on the ground landscaping for over 25 years.

Paul shares some of the most crucial things to consider when deciding which lawn best suits your property and lifestyle.

This One Thing Will Give Your Lawn a Boost

  • You’ll get the most success by looking at the soil conditions. The soil is where the roots of the grass are bedded in, so if you can fertilise and do as much as you can to improve the conditions beforehand, you’ll get a much better end result,” Paul recommends.

Paul also mentions that sub-base preparation is just as important for synthetic grass to ensure a good application.

Check Your Drainage (Even if You Live in a New Subdivision)

  • I’ve noticed some of the pre-constructed drainage isn’t always up to spec, and I’ve come across areas, even flat ones, that might not get proper drainage with heavy rain. Be sure to get that sorted first because it can create issues down the track,” Paul says.

Out of Date? Out of the Question

If you’re thinking about getting that old bag of seed out from the shed, Paul says think again:

  • I really do recommend top quality seed for best results; the biggest thing is, make sure you check the bag, it can’t be used if it’s out of date.”

For The Water-Conscious Homeowners

  • I am finding more and more people are conscious of water, and I’ve done a few lawns where I’ve laid artificial turf solely because of this. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it does certainly tick a few boxes,” Paul says.

The Most Budget-Friendly Option

  • Artificial grass – just considering the fact that most yards in the inner city yards are quite compact. If you’ve only got a small area, artificial is the way to go. But if you’ve got a bigger property, the most budget-friendly option would be from seed,” Paul says.

Invest in Tools That Set You Up For Success

  • If you can, invest in a watering system,” Paul says. 

    “The thing to realise is that golf courses are maintained by full-time greenskeepers – it takes work and your lawn is no different – but an irrigation system can help with some of that work.”

The One Question To Ask Yourself

How much time do I want to spend per week on my lawn?

“This is the deciding factor, as it always comes down to time. Grass inevitably wants to grow up into a jungle; it needs to be watered when it’s not raining; weeded when they grow, and so on. If people are prepared to put in the effort, by all means, natural grass is a great option,” Paul says. 

“When you’re weighing up costs of the fertiliser, water, lawn mower and petrol, and calculating how much you’re going to spend over 10-15 years, you’ve got to somehow enter the time factor into that equation,” Paul says. 

“People are having less spare time, that’s the reality; unless you’re retired, in which case you can reap the benefits of a seeded lawn,” Paul laughs.

Do you have a space to keep gardening tools and the lawn mower? 

What Would Our Landscaper Paul Choose?

 

  • I think I have a bias towards artificial grass because of the developments in recent years. You can get a longer nap – which is a longer blade length – and also for the way it’s woven, they put brown flakes in there which make it look more natural,” Paul says. 

    “As for the environmental considerations, yes it is a manufactured product and not biodegradable – however, then you’ve got fertilisers which aren’t natural either. 

    “But you kind of keep going back and forth thinking, what about fuel for the motor? And what about this, and that? Where do you draw the line? Maybe get some sheep,” Paul laughs.

To Wrap Up… As With Most Things in Life:

  • There’s no ‘one-size fits all’ lawn – consider those 7 key factors to help you decide which lawn is right for your lifestyle.

  • The more you prepare your soil and surface, the higher your chances are of getting a lawn that you’re proud of.

  • The grass is usually greener where you water it. But seriously, with proper maintenance and consistency, you’ll get great results no matter which lawn option you choose.