A few years ago, we undertook a pretty big project to transform our garden from a dilapidated, boring space that was unsafe for kids to one that would be great for us as a family all year round (you can read about it here).
We’re so chuffed we had it done and have spent a lot of time in it over the last couple of years. Yes, it’s small – or ‘compact’ in Estate Agent language – but the space has been designed really well and works perfectly for us.
However, in hindsight, one of the decisions we wish we’d have made was to install artificial grass rather than regular turf. It fleetingly crossed our mind back then, but we deemed it an unnecessary luxury on top of an already eye-watering budget.
Anyway, fast forward three years, fake grass is something we’ve been thinking about more and more. The artificial turf market seems to have exploded during this time, helped by better quality, increased ranges and more of an acceptance to go fake. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but we’ve always been drawn to it.
There wasn’t a major reason why we wanted artificial grass, more a number of minor ones which all added up. The real grass in our garden was in pretty poor condition – it’s dry and dead in summer, muddy and mossy in winter, the edges are pretty threadbare, it has bald spots, it’s full of weeds and previous definition with the existing planting has been lost.
Not only did this bring down the general appearance of the garden that we’d spent a lot of money on, but it also meant that the kids didn’t use it as much as we hoped. They play on the decking, but the grass has tended to be an underused part of the garden depending on the weather.
Finally, there’s maintenance. Having real grass means you have to cut it and care for it, so there was obviously an appeal of going fake in terms of time and money savings – I’d no longer have to buy grass seed and grass feed, plus I’d be reducing my household tasks. If you’re thinking that sounds a little lazy, then you’re probably right!
Anyway, as part of our decision to look into artificial grass, we discovered that Carpetright actually supply it. This initially surprised me because I expected it to be more of a niche product – I guess fake grass is ultimately just an outside carpet though, so it actually makes perfect sense.
So, with that, I spoke to the guys at Carpetright to see if they were interested in working together. Luckily, they said ‘yes’ and agreed to supply us with artificial grass of our choosing in exchange for sharing our experiences on this ‘ere blog.
So, below, you’ll find my full review – from picking our grass (Derwent), to ordering it, to having it delivered through to having it installed. Spoiler alert: Overall, our experience is overwhelmingly positive and we’re chuffed that we’ve switched to artificial grass.
Real Grass Vs Artificial Grass
Rather than make you wait until the end of the post to see the improvement to our garden thanks to Carpetright’s artificial grass, I thought I’d do it backwards way on and show you the finished product first. So, here’s a number of photos, including before and after shots, to whet your appetite.
Choosing Our Artificial Grass
Picking the grass we wanted was a tough decision. We needed it to look good and closely resemble real grass, but we also wanted it to be hard-wearing and soft to the touch because the kids would be playing on it. The vibrant green astro turf like stuff was not what we wanted.
We checked out the Carpetright website and found six different grasses – these ranged in price (from £15 to £30m²), quality and features, such as the grass height or ‘greenness’. To help make our decision, we were able to order samples which arrived in the post a few days later. We also visited our local branch to look at larger versions of the samples to get a better idea.
Overall, we were impressed. After plenty – and I do mean plenty (!) – of consideration, we decided to go with the Derwent artificial grass (bottom middle in the photo above). We thought that this one looked the most realistic out of all of the samples and liked the different shades of green and brown which helped to mimic natural grass without making it look too fake.
We also felt that Derwent was one of the softest and nicest to touch when we compared grasses – this is probably down to the 42mm height, which makes it quite a tall artificial grass compared to a lot on the market. At £22.99m², it was one of Carpetright’s mid-price grasses, so it felt good value for money, particularly as we preferred it to the more expensive ones.
Ordering Our Artificial Grass
You can order the grass online, but I preferred to liaise directly with our local store as I was a little worried about sizing. They have a handy area calculator on the website, but as I have miscalculated the size of a bedroom carpet in the past, I was pleased when they said they’d send over a fitter to measure up the area for me.
He arrived the next day and was with us for around 30 minutes. During his visit, he measured up the area, provided a written estimate for the Derwent grass, then answered a few questions I had about the grass and the overall process. This estimate was emailed to our local store, who then got in touch to see if I wanted to place the order.
The area of turf to be replaced was roughly 11m² and in an ‘L’ shape. Due to the size and shape, it had been measured up as 3.8m of Derwent on a 4m roll (2m roll is also available), which came in at £331.06.
I was actually surprised with this price and expected it to be more – in my head before we started looking into it, I was thinking that it’d be around the £500 mark, so anything cheaper was obviously a bonus.
The last step was getting the grass to our house. You can pick it up for free in store with Click & Collect, but for ease, we went with the Home Delivery option (£29.99). The order went in on 23rd April and it was available for delivery to us anytime after 4th May.
We were updated throughout this process by email and the grass arrived safely on the agreed date. Luckily, it just managed to fit into our garage until we were ready to install it!
Installing Our Artificial Grass
Unlike with their carpets and other internal flooring, Carpetright don’t offer installation on their artificial grass range. I’m not sure whether they have plans to do so in the future, but I reckon they’re missing a trick at present by not doing installation too.
You can install the grass yourself and don’t necessarily need a professional to do it for you. However, having read a bit about installation, I soon decided that it was way out of my DIY comfort zone and it was time to call in some help! I didn’t want a repeat of past fails.
I therefore looked for someone local to fit it for us. Plenty of people and companies said they could do it, but I wanted someone who specialised in artificial grass installation – luckily, I found Steve at The Artificial Lawn Hub who’s installed over 100 fake lawns and obviously knew what he was talking about.
In total, it took 2.5 days to fully install the grass in our back garden, however this had to be done over a week due to bad weather and an issue with the grass size (more on that below). For all materials and labour (excluding the artificial grass), it cost us around £750 to have the grass professionally installed.
Day 1 saw Steve do the following:
- Clear and dispose of the existing natural lawn
- Prepare the foundation level
- Cement in edging blocks to create a boundary between existing plants
- Introduce, level and wacker plate mot type 1 foundation material
Then, Day 2 saw Steve attempt to finish the job by doing the following:
- Introduce and screed sharp sand to desired height and level
- Install, trim and secure weed membrane
- Roll out, trim and secure artificial grass to all boundaries
- Buff lawn and detail for realism
However…it was at the rolling out stage where we hit a stumbling block. Upon opening and unrolling the grass, Steve found that it didn’t tally up with his measurements. After double and triple checking, the artificial grass we had was roughly 30cm shorter than it should be (3.8m instead of 4.1m).
I got on the phone to the store to see what had happened. After a few minutes of investigation work, it turned out that the fitter who had come to calculate the area had measured it incorrectly. It appeared that he’d measured the distance from the shed to a pillar that sticks out of our back wall rather than from the shed to the furthest part of the wall.
I understand that mistakes can happen, but this seemed to be a bit of a rookie one and the kind of error I hoped to avoid by not ordering from my own measurements! This mistake sadly meant that the garden couldn’t be completed on the day as planned, and therefore had a knock on effect for both us and Steve.
Anyway, Carpetright very quickly apologised for the error and gave us the option of (a) choosing a different artificial grass which they had in-store and transporting it home ourselves, or (b) reordering the Derwent in the correct size and having it delivered at a later date.
As Derwent was our favourite, we decided to go with option b and reorder. I expected to have a reasonable wait to get the replacement grass, but to my amazement, it was with us in a super speedy time – the order went in on Monday morning and the grass was with us by Wednesday morning. I can only praise the way that Carpetright rectified the error that had been made.
A few days later, Steve was able to spare half a day to finish our job. This time – and to our relief – the replacement grass was the right size, so he was able to:
- Roll out and trim artificial grass to correct size and shape
- Secure artificial grass to all boundaries with fixing pins
- Buff lawn and detail for realism
Despite a few bumps in the road – namely the weather and the sizing mistake – Steve did a brilliant job at installing our artificial grass and we were very happy with the results. As evidenced by the process above, the actual installation is quite challenging, so if you’re thinking of getting fake grass, I’d suggest you enlist the help of someone who knows what they’re doing.
During the process, I was really interested to hear Steve’s view on the Carpetright Derwent artificial grass. As a consumer, I was really happy with aspects like the appearance and the feel, but I have very limited experience of fake grass. As someone who has installed loads of artificial grass though, I was keen to get his thoughts, which he sent me after installation was complete:
“We mainly install grass from a Bedfordshire based supplier who I have built a fabulous relationship with over the years. I have occasionally fitted grass from some of the so called ‘top brands’, which in truth, didn’t hold up against my regular lawn. So how would a chain store lawn fair, I wondered? To be honest, I wasn’t holding much hope that it would compare.
I was surprised though. On rolling out the lawn, I was initially struck by its quality of weave and colour. Good lawns have a richer darker shade, as this one did. Derwent is a thick, dense weave and has a longer pile than my usual lawn.
Derwent’s backing is thin and seems to be a competent base for the weave. This enabled the install to be crease-free during installation and seemed to have a memory and flatten out immediately. The cutting in was easy also and cutting round details and edges was a pleasant surprise. Both my client and myself were very pleased with the result.”
Final Thoughts On Our Artificial Grass
We’ve had the Derwent artificial grass from Carpetright installed for a week now and we’re really chuffed with it. Aesthetically, it’s a marked improvement on our old grass and has given the entire garden an uplift. I particularly like how it fits under the decking and sits really neatly against the bricks and edging blocks.
As hoped, I reckon it looks really realistic. I’d feared that I’d look at it and just see a big, green carpet, but that’s not been the case at all. This is probably due to the thick pile, the individual blades and the various greens and browns within the fibres. Overall, this gives the impression of a healthy, tidy and well maintained lawn with no weeds or dead patches in sight.
Looks aside, it’s already been great for the kids. They’ve played on it a fair bit since it was fitted and certainly more than they would have done if it was the old grass. This has even included when the grass has been wet, which is something we’d have probably discouraged previously due to the inevitable mud and mess that comes with real grass after a downpour.
As mentioned before, I obviously don’t have to spend time cutting the grass with a lawn mower or strimmer anymore – in fact, I’ve already got rid of them on Facebook Selling Groups to bring in some pennies and free up space in the shed! The same goes for weeding, watering and attempting to fill dead spots with grass seed.
There is obviously an element of maintenance though to keep it looking tip top. I’ve found that leaves or debris that fall onto the grass just tend to sit there, so I’m becoming quite obsessive about removing anything that doesn’t belong. I’ve even been out there with a vacuum which got a few weird looks from the neighbours!
Having a dog is something to consider too. The grass is pet friendly so there’s no issue with the dog doing his ‘business’ on there, but we’ll want to keep it clean to avoid any odour. This will probably just consist of regularly hosing down the area and giving it a quick spray with something designed to disinfect and deodorise.
Although it resembles grass, it’s obviously different. For instance, I’ve noticed a a crunching sound when I walk on it, which doesn’t happen with real turf. In addition, it can leave an impression in the grass if something, like the kid’s outdoor toys, are left on it – however, this disappears as soon as you ruffle the fibres. It seems to dry pretty quickly too and drainage is fine.
So far, I’ve had no issues with the grass. Obviously there was the mistake with sizing, but that was soon rectified. If I’m being extremely picky, there’s a few faint lines on the right side of the grass, which I assume is from where it was put tightly onto the roll. However, I expect these to go with time and they actually show up clearer on photos than in real life.
So there’s my slightly-longer-than-planned-but-I-had-a-lot-to-say review of Carpetright’s Derwent artificial grass. Replacing our real turf with fake grass wasn’t an easy decision, but it’s one that we’re massively pleased we took. Roll on summer!
Disclosure: The Derwent artificial grass was provided to us by Carpetright with the purpose of writing an honest review in exchange for the product. All fitting costs were paid by ourselves.