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Grass is better for some families, and turf works for others. Before you invest a lot of time and money making expensive changes to your yard, think about what kind of lawn suits your family’s lifestyle and tastes. Here are seven questions to ask as you decide how lush you want your lawn to be:

1. Do you use the yard or do you just like to look at it? If you play and walk on your lawn, natural grass might be right for you. But if a perpetually manicured look is what you’re after, why water it? Consider artificial turf.

2. Do you have children? Artificial turf can heat up to 180 degrees under the summer  sun, so your kids might not like it. You can cool it off by hosing it down; are you up for doing that every day? Families with children often opt for a grassy back yard, or at least a sizeable patch of the green stuff, where children can feel comfortable playing all summer.

3. Do you have pets? Pet owners tend to favor naturally grassy areas so their beloved dogs and cats have a cool, natural place to romp (and do their business). Don’t rule out artificial turf if you have pets, though: Most manufacturers say it’s OK to set Fido loose on the synthetic product; just clean up the mess he leaves and hose off the turf to remove the evidence.

4. Are you a golfer? It’s pretty hard to keep up with a natural lawn that grows so fast you have to mow it every time the duffer in the family wants to practice putting in the back yard. Even sod manufacturers admit that artificial turf is a good fit for golf-obsessed homeowners.

5. Do you like to work in the yard? If you have grass, you have to overseed it in the fall, and water, mow, weed, edge and fertilize it all year round. You’ll need some sort of irrigation system to water the grass regularly so it won’t die under the hot sun. Artificial turf, on the other hand, just needs raking (with a plastic rake,never metal) and blowing to chase away leaves and debris and an occasional hosing off, but little else, and it is likely to last for up to 20 years, manufacturers say.

6. Is “natural” important to you? Nothing smells like natural grass except grass. It’s got a look and feel all its own. Artificial turf isn’t “real,” but it looks pretty close. Manufacturers of the perpetually green synthetic grass have begun to design it with the occasional yellow or brown blade so the product looks more like natural grass.

7.How much can you spend on your lawn? 
You can expect to spend about $6 to $10 a square foot, for artificial turf depending on brand, quality and style, not including any prep work your yard requires. Compare that with a natural hybrid Bermuda sod lawn with an irrigation system at $2.50 to $4 a square foot installed. A basic, low-water native desert landscape, again, excluding any prep work, will run around $2 to $3 per square foot.

Choose your lawn after doing some research on price, maintenance, warranties, durability and how well it suits your taste and how you will use it. Then, take care of it as well as you can, and enjoy it for decades.


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