Types of Artificial Turf—And How to Choose the Right One

Jun 12, 2024 | Artificial Grass

Did you know that there are over 11,000 species of grass around the world?

Artificial grass doesn’t have quite so many varieties but there are still plenty to choose from. Most of it may look the same from roll to roll but once artificial turf is rolled out in your backyard, one type can be very different from another. 

Different turf designed for different purposes has different physical characteristics, properties, and compositions.

If you’re considering making the switch from real grass, many benefits of artificial turf await you. But it will pay to delve deeper into the type of artificial turf you need before making any decisions.

Here are the main things to consider…

The effect of technology on artificial turf types

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In the beginning, there was only AstroTurf. Well, at least in the 1960s and 1970s, AstroTurf was the only option on the market.

Fast forward six or seven decades and buyers of artificial turf have a dizzying array of options available thanks to the advances of turf manufacturing technology.

Many of these advances have improved the overall quality of artificial grass and answered many of the shortcomings of the original AstroTurf.

Now, artificial turf is made with many different materials and has distinctive appearances and grades. The cost of artificial grass also varies greatly from one type to another.

Turf is not simply designed for use on backyard lawns or sports fields—though these remain popular uses—but it’s increasingly used for playgrounds, commercial landscaping, and putting greens too.

Let’s look at the main ways that one type of turf differs from another…

How does artificial turf differ in composition?

Let’s start with what artificial turf is made from. When we’re talking materials, we need to consider the two main sections that make up turf: the blades and the backing.

The turf blades

The turf blades on artificial grass are sometimes referred to as “yarn”. There are three main types of plastic-based yarn used in the manufacture of artificial turf: polyethylene, polypropylene, and nylon. 

A closer look at each one reveals some important differences…


This is the most commonly used yarn for landscape turf and almost all of the turf products supplied and installed by DFW Turf Solutions are polyethylene-based and made in the USA.

There are good reasons for this. Polyethylene is versatile and provides the best balance between cost, durability, and a natural grass appearance and feel. Despite being soft to the touch, it can withstand high temperatures and heavy traffic and needs only occasional maintenance to keep it in pristine condition.


Polypropylene may be the lowest-cost option but it is also used in putting green turf, which is more expensive. 

It’s soft to the touch but may be less durable than other types of artificial turf, especially in areas of high sunshine and heat. It’s often used on putting greens and as a layer of thatch on some landscape turf.


Nylon turf is very strong, highly durable, and often used on sports fields and putting greens, where high foot traffic is expected. It can also withstand high temperatures, strong sunlight, and heavy weights but this comes at a price: nylon is usually the most expensive option.

Nylon turf also usually feels stiffer or “pricklier” to the touch than polyethylene or polypropylene-based turf.

The backing 

Most high-quality artificial turf has a two-part backing:

  • The primary backing is usually made of a grid of stretch-resistant woven polypropylene. This is a netting-type material that the grass fibers are woven into in rows. 
  • The secondary backing glues and seals the turf together and is usually made from rubber or polyurethane.

These materials are generally preferable to latex, which is also commonly used in turf backing, One of the major issues with latex backing is that it can trap odors, such as pet pee, leading to unwanted smells emanating from pet turf. That’s why the backing for the best artificial grass for dogs is usually made of polypropylene.

How does artificial turf differ in physical characteristics?

The physical characteristics of artificial turf can be broken down into several different areas, as follows…

Fiber height/pile height

The pile height, which is the length of the artificial grass blades, is one of the most obvious differences between various types of artificial turf.

Some turf types, such as putting green turf, have very short pile heights (typically 0.5-0.7 inches)—just like the real thing. Shorter pile heights are also suitable for athletic fields and other areas that see high wear and tear.

Lawn turf is usually more luscious and generally has a pile height of between one and 2.5 inches, which allows for a lush feel but less wear and tear.

A moderate pile height of one to 1.5 inches is a good multi-purpose length, suitable for moderate wear and tear for most backyard landscaping ideas and commercial spaces.

While shorter pile heights make the turf easier to clean and often more durable, longer pile heights look more natural and inviting, and provide a more cushioned surface.


The purpose of most artificial turf is to emulate the look and feel of real grass. But real grass varies in so many aspects, including color.

Artificial grass, therefore, now comes in a variety of greens, from brighter lime green to darker olive green. You can even have it custom-made in other colors for other purposes, such as custom sports fields and businesses, for instance.

For most backyard uses, we recommend olive green or field green. This provides a natural look and also avoids heating up excessively like some darker turf.


Real grass is not uniformly green. It has inconsistencies and an underlayer of dead grass below the vibrant living grass. This affects the overall color and appearance.

The best artificial grass mimics this, with a layer of curled brown or tan-colored blades below the main grass blades. If the turf has no thatch, it may look less realistic as lawn turf.

Thatch is generally not necessary for other areas, such as playgrounds or sports fields, and is unnecessary for putting green turf.

Face weight and total weight

The face weight of turf includes only the turf’s fibers and stitching. The total weight includes the fibers and the backing. Both are usually measured in ounces per square yard of turf and typical measurements are between 50-110 ounces per square yard.

Usually, when you buy artificial turf, the product specs include both weight measurements so make sure that you compare like with like.

The face weight affects how luscious and realistic your artificial turf looks and feels because it determines the density of the grass blades. It also affects durability. Face weight doesn’t necessarily determine quality but it’s fair to say that most high-quality turf will have a correspondingly high face weight. 

There is no “ideal” face weight, pile height or density for turf. Much comes down to personal preferences and intended usage. Some people prefer a low face weight and high pile height and others prefer a high face weight with lower pile height. 

If you’re unsure, get the right advice from turf professionals.


As mentioned, artificial turf should have two forms of backing, which together stabilize the turf system and make it more durable:

With the primary backing, the blades/fibers are stitched into the woven backing, allowing the turf fibers to be tufted into the material in rows and facilitating the seaming between artificial grass panels.

The secondary backing is like a coating applied to the reverse side of the primary backing to glue the tufted fibers permanently in place.

These materials combined with the face weight of the turf make up the total weight of the turf. Generally, the backing should weigh at least 25 ounces in high-quality turf that will see moderate to heavy traffic.

The backing of the turf also affects the overall drainage performance of the turf. How well the area drains is an important factor for almost all outdoor uses of artificial turf and much will depend on the construction of the backing—most notably, the perforations which help to make the grass permeable to liquids.

You can check how effective at drainage the turf you choose is. The best turf provides a drainage rate in the region of 30+ inches of rain per hour per square yard—but the overall drainage of an artificial grass area is also affected by ground preparation and installation.


The type of infill you spread over your artificial turf also affects its appearance and performance.

Infill is often overlooked but plays an essential role in maintaining an immaculate, well-drained, odor-free space:

  • Keeps fibers standing upright and looking more realistic
  • Prevents matting
  • Prevents the turf from “shifting”
  • Helps with a cushioning effect of the turf
  • Protects the backing (especially from the sun and heat)
  • Antimicrobial infill helps prevent odors (such as dog pee)
  • Can help to keep the surface of the grass cool 

Infill is generally made from silica sand, crumb rubber or zeolite but you may also see coconut shells and other exotic materials used.

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What are the different types of artificial turf usage?

One of the reasons for the explosion of interest in artificial grass is its versatility. No longer is it confined to professional sports fields. Advances in the quality of turf have created ever-more realistic options that can be used for multiple backyard landscaping ideas.

When considering the type of artificial turf to order, one of the most basic considerations is what you’ll use the space for. Whether it’s a low-maintenance lawn, a recreational area or a dog run, there’s an artificial turf type to match what you need…

Backyard landscape turf 

Most homeowners in the southern states want a low-maintenance lawn that looks immaculate but natural all year round.

The best option is a soft, lush, high-quality turf with a high face weight and a long enough pile height to ensure it is comfortable and springy to walk on. The turf should also be able to withstand moderate to heavy foot traffic, remain cool in hot weather, and drain well if the lawn is used by your family.

Pet turf 

Artificial turf has many benefits for dog owners—and your canine friend will love it too. Pet turf systems are specifically designed to handle whatever your dog can throw at it, including boisterous play and dog pee.

Dog-friendly turf should have a non-latex, highly permeable backing for drainage and an antimicrobial infill to prevent bacteria and pee odors. It should also stay cool for your pet’s paws. You may want to consider a slightly shorter pile height to make it easier to collect solid waste in dog-run areas.

Like all turf, artificial grass for dogs should be installed professionally with properly prepared ground and no weed membrane underneath.

If you get it right with your pet turf, you and your dog will enjoy an odor-free, toxin-free area with no digging and no mud trailing back through the house.

Putting green and golf turf 

Artificial putting greens can closely resemble the appearance and performance of real grass greens—with a fraction of the maintenance—thanks to the advance of synthetic turf technology.

This type of artificial turf has a short pile height (0.4 to 0.75 inches) and may be made of nylon rather than polyethylene. This is particularly hard-wearing and, with the appropriate infill, can mirror the roll of a golf ball on a real grass putting green.

The best artificial putting greens also have a fringe, fairway or chipping area beyond the main putting surface for an extended golfing experience.

Swimming pool turf

The best artificial turf type around a swimming pool is highly permeable so that it drains water well and is not harmed by chlorine or UV rays. Often, an antimicrobial infill is a good addition too.

Pool turf is regularly installed in the form of turf strips, which are set between pavers. Because of the possibility of excess water, it’s important to prepare the ground beneath the turf carefully for drainage too.

This type of turf is popular for pool owners as it saves having to regularly trim grass that may become difficult to tend between flagstones.

Playground turf

The best playground turf is hygienic, with good drainage and installed with safety first in mind. A shock-absorbent foam pad should be installed underneath the grass to cushion the impact of falls. 

A turf with thatch and a good face weight will be durable enough to withstand heavy foot traffic and also provide extra cushioning.

Like with all types of artificial turf, a professional installation is essential for playground turf.

Sports field turf

Artificial turf started its journey into the mainstream consciousness when it was used in sports fields across the world during the 1970s and 1980s.

Since then, many professional stadiums have upgraded their artificial turf as better options have come onto the market. Many others have made the switch from real grass to turf for a lower maintenance, more cost-effective option. Another attraction for team owners is that synthetic turf is not dependent on getting enough sunshine (stadiums can be tall with limited sunlight).

Sports turf is also used extensively in amateur sports and recreational facilities across the country. The best sports field turf stands up to significant wear and tear and is highly durable.

Are there eco-friendly types of artificial turf?

There is a debate about the eco-friendliness of artificial turf.

Those who argue that turf is eco-friendly point to the fact that it’s usually recyclable, uses fewer resources than real grass (minimal water, no lawnmower fuel, etc.), and reduces the chemical load because no pesticides or fertilizers are required.

At DFW Turf Solutions, we consider all of the artificial turf we install to be eco-friendly for these reasons.

However, opponents of artificial grass claim that a lot of product ends up in landfills and point to the fact that turf is not biodegradable. They also argue that it does not provide the benefits to the environment offered by natural grass (in particular, carbon dioxide release).

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What factors should you consider before selecting artificial grass?

Personal preference plays a big role when selecting artificial grass but because many homeowners are relatively inexperienced with selecting turf, they are happy to receive recommendations about the type of artificial turf to install.

We will consider each of the following before recommending an artificial turf to you:

  • What is the main purpose of the space?
  • Who will be using the space?
  • What is the size and layout of the space?
  • Do you have dogs? If so, how many?
  • Will there be light, moderate or heavy foot traffic?
  • What is your budget?
  • What is the local climate?
  • Is there glare from windows to contend with?
  • Any other relevant factors?

Customized artificial turf spaces…

The many types of artificial turf available today open up multiple possibilities for home and business owners who want to save time and money and enjoy an evergreen space all year round.

Whatever the main purpose of the green space is, there’s a synthetic turf to match. Weigh up the qualities of the turf and consider all of the factors carefully before you select your turf.

Our experienced team of turf professionals is ready to discuss your artificial turf installation with you. We’ve helped thousands of home and business owners enjoy customized green spaces over many years…

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