Switching from natural grass to an artificial grass lawn conserves water, reduces the need for chemical yard care products, saves you time on yard maintenance, and allows you to enjoy a lush, green lawn every month of the year. In Southern California, where we often experience drought, conserving water is particularly important and having a natural lawn that is green all year is becoming increasingly rare. These are just two of the reasons that homeowners are opting for synthetic turf and enjoying the many perks that come along with it.
Of course, many folks still remember the fake grass of 20 or 30 years ago and are not aware of the huge advancements in manufactured grass technology over the years. This means that folks considering replacing their natural grass with the synthetic sort usually have lots of questions. One question we sometimes get is, “Does artificial grass get mold or mildew?”
While mold and mildew are issues that most Southern California homeowners will never have to deal with, some folks in coastal communities or areas that receive more rain and have lots of shade do have issues with mildew in basements or mold growing on their eaves, decks, walkways, natural grass lawns or driveways. Mold can even be an issue in shady areas or areas with poor drainage in some of the driest parts of California. So, it makes sense that even Southern Californians would have questions about the potential for synthetic grass mold.
Does Artificial Grass Get Mold or Mildew?
High-quality, modern, manufactured grass has a permeable backing to enhance drainage and blades that do not absorb water. The installation process includes assessing potential drainage issues and a layer of base that enhances drainage further. When properly installed, synthetic grass drainage is similar to or better than natural grass. Because of this, mold and mildew are very rarely issues with artificial grass and you are much more likely to experience mold growth in a natural grass lawn.
There are, however, a handful of mostly avoidable situations that can increase the risk of mold or mildew on your grass.
In the few instances that you might hear about homeowners experiencing synthetic turf mold, one of the most common causes is installing the turf directly on top of concrete. When you install fake grass directly on top of concrete, you do not have the opportunity to prepare the ground and add base during the installation process, which means that you have significantly less control over drainage. Because of this, it is possible for water to pool between the concrete and the grass, which could lead to mold growth. However, you can avoid this by installing drainage tiles under the grass to improve air circulation and drainage.
A similar situation can arise with artificial grass throw rugs used on decks or patios, particularly if they do not have a permeable backing like that used in grass for larger installations. Of course, in the case of a throw rug, you can simply roll it up and store it when it rains or hang it to dry.
It is also possible to experience moldy grass if you choose a lower-quality turf product, such as those with blades made with nylon fibers, which absorb water, or inferior backing material, which does not allow proper drainage. You can avoid this by choosing a higher-quality grass product, so this is easy to avoid.
There are some instances where low areas that hold water, lack air circulation and get little sunlight will get mold. However, these areas should have already been growing mold or moss, so you would know if mold was going to be a problem in this area. This makes this situation easy to avoid, because you can simply point these areas out to your synthetic turf installer, and he or she can pay particular attention to the area when planning your design and installation. For example, if there are known drainage issues, this can be taken care of with proper grading before installing your new lawn.
The other situation that could potentially lead to mold growth actually has little to do with the fake grass. If you leave food on your kitchen counter or spill soda or juice on the floor, these items will eventually grow mold. If you have a dog and are not always able to pick up the pet waste in a timely fashion, you probably already know that the combination of dog poop and moisture can lead to mold on the poop regardless of whether that poop is sitting on natural grass, gravel, wood chips or concrete. While we do not see this a lot in Southern California, it is also possible for mold to grow on fallen, wet leaves.
With all of these things in mind, it only makes sense that these same items will grow mold in these situations regardless of the surface they are on. Therefore, if there are wet leaves, pet waste, food, spilled drinks, or other biological matter left on your artificial grass lawn, you may see mold growing on these items on your grass. Like the above-mentioned situations, this is easily avoided. Regularly removing debris, cleaning up spills as they occur, and rinsing down pet restroom areas is all that is necessary to avoid these situations.
How to Remove Artificial Grass Mold
Synthetic turf mold is rarely an issue, particularly with newer turf products and in dry climates like Southern California. For the most part, all you really need to do is the regular maintenance you would be doing to care for your fake lawn anyways. Regular cleaning will remove the debris, dirt and biological matter that could cause mold growth, while fluffing the blades ensures proper air circulation.
If you have artificial grass installed on concrete and have mold growing between the grass and concrete or beginning to appear on top of your grass, you can clear this up with household bleach, which is best used as a diluted mixture with water. Just be careful where you spray it, since it can be harmful to living landscapes.
In other rare instances where mold might grow on manufactured grass, you may be able to remedy the situation with vinegar, bleach, or a mold-removal product made specifically for use on artificial grass and similar surfaces, such as MoldOff.