If you’re fed up with dog urine ruining your lawn, or you’re looking for creative solutions for your apartment balcony, it's time to consider artificial grass, also known as artificial turf. Synthetic grass won't harbor fleas, doesn't need watering, and can offer your dog an indoor alternative.
“Choose products that are sustainably sourced and environmentally friendly,” adds Kate Perry, a certified dog trainer with the Animal Behavior College and author of the bestselling guide “Training for Both Ends of the Leash.” “They should be easily disposable in accordance with your local sanitation provider’s rules and deliverable to your location or available at local stores.”
Our favorite artificial grass, SunVilla Realistic Indoor/Outdoor Artificial Grass, is lead-free and UV-resistant. It comes in a wide range of sizes that can be cut to fit almost any indoor or outdoor application. But some of our other recommendations may fit you and your dog better.
Here are the best artificial grasses for dogs.
SunVilla Realistic Indoor/Outdoor Artificial Grass
No infill required
Wide range of sizes
Gets hot in warm weather
To earn the best overall spot on our list, an artificial grass must be well-rated, somewhat realistic, durable, reasonably affordable, and appropriate for a range of custom indoor and outdoor applications. SunVilla artificial grass, sold under many other brand names, including Pet Pad, Petgrow, and Pet Grow, has achieved a more realistic look by having a pile height similar to a mowed lawn. At more than an inch long, multiple shades of green filament yarn are interwoven with yellow curly thatch yarn that simulates young and old grass fibers.
Available in a huge range of roll sizes, you’ll find as small as 28-by-40-inch mats all the way up to 13-by-25-foot rolls. That range allows you to cover an area of 28 to 1,066 square feet with a single roll.
Customers find this artificial grass easy to clean, durable, and easy to install. The manufacturers recommend you use SunVilla artificial turf self-adhesive seaming tape to secure panels together, but other seam tapes should also work. You’ll also feel good knowing you have a 10-year warranty.
Materials: UV-resistant curled polypropylene and monofil polyethylene yarns, dual layer polypropylene backing sealed with latex rubber waterproof coating︱Pile Height: 1.38 inches︱Density: Not listed︱Face Weight: 70 ounces per square yard
Best for Potty Training
Petmaker Artificial Grass Potty Mat
Convenient for indoors
Great for apartments, patios, garages, and porches
Made in China
When you’re potty training, you can’t watch them every minute. But you can provide them with an easy-to-clean indoor surface that simulates the outdoors to help guide them in the right direction. The Pet Adobe Artificial Grass Potty Trainer Mat—also sold under the brand names Petmaker and Pet Pal—uses a three-layer system. A top grass mat sits on top of a layer that collects liquids, and both rest in a durable collection tray.
It can be used on patios and other outdoor spaces, and since it has drain holes it can also be used in areas exposed to rain. Simply wash with warm soapy water and dry. Many pet parents buy two, so you always have a clean, dry one available. Additional grass mats are available for purchase separately. Some pet parents add disposable pee pads for additional absorbance when they are away all day. This system also works very well for senior dogs with mobility issues who can’t easily get themselves inside and out.
Materials: Synthetic plastic grass mat and durable plastic tray︱Pile Height: 1.25 inches︱Sizes: Small 16 x 20 inches, medium 20 x 25 inches
Ottomanson Evergreen Collection Artificial Grass Tile
Easy to clean
No tools required for installation
Made in Turkey
If you’re looking for a simple installation for flat surfaces, like a balcony, porch, or garage, interlocking artificial grass tiles might be a great fit for you and your dog. Sold in packs of six 1-foot-square tiles, each tile features a hard plastic backing with feet to raise above liquids and allow airflow.
The yarn design is quite similar to our best overall pick, with multiple shades of green intermixed with yellow thatch. They have a direction, so lay out the pieces in position before you connect them if you want the grass to flow all in the same manner. The hard plastic bottom pieces snap together.
Because these are self-draining, they shouldn’t be used indoors unless they’re on a waterproof surface or catchment tray.
Materials: Polyethylene and polypropylene yarn, hard backing︱Pile Height: 0.3 inches︱Face Weight: Not listed
Goasis Lawn Artificial Grass Turf
Low pile for low profile
UV-, fade-, mold- and mildew-resistant
For most, roll-out application is one of the simplest ways to create your desired space. Like our best overall pick, Goasis rolls are well-rated, reasonably affordable, and appropriate for indoor and outdoor applications. You’ll appreciate the wide range of sizes, in widths from 2 to 13 feet and lengths from 3 to 82 feet. That means you can buy the closest size for your space and then cut it if needed for a perfect fit.
Customers like that it’s lightweight, easy to clean, and drains well. Some liked the low pile, while others thought it didn’t look enough like real grass and was too shiny. Your dog will like that it’s soft to the touch. Many customers noted how easy it was to install and keep clean on patios, dog runs, and decking.
Materials: UV-resistant polyethylene yarn, polypropylene fabric, reinforced net with latex backing︱Pile Height: 0.4 inches︱Density: 63,000 tufts/square meter
Zeodorizer Artificial Turf Infill
Organic, nontoxic product with no plastic
May be harder to find than some other infills
The right infill material, a substance added to the turf after installation, keeps turf fibers standing upright, acts as a weight to keep turf from shifting, and improves artificial grass function. Although silica sand and rubber infill are commonly used for non-pet applications, they aren’t generally recommended for dogs. Silica sand acts like cat litter and will hold odors. Rubber infill is often black and will increase the turf temperature and could burn your dog’s delicate feet in areas with warmer temperatures.
If you choose to use infill material, we like Zeoderizer Artificial Turf Infill. Made of pure zeolite pumice, a natural volcanic rock mined directly from the earth in Southern California, this material is naturally absorbent and antibacterial, preventing stains and odors. In fact, zeolite is a negatively charged molecule, so it binds to positively charged ammonia like a magnet, keeping it from transitioning from a liquid to a gas form that creates odors. The infill is also white, so it doesn’t heat up like other infills, keeping the grass surface cool for your dog’s feet in hot weather.
If you follow the manufacturer's suggestion to use about 2 pounds per square foot, it will also act as a secondary weight to keep the artificial grass in place.
Materials: Zeolite pumice︱Size: 40-pound bags
We like SunVilla Realistic Indoor/Outdoor Artificial Grass because this soft turf is available in a range of sizes that can be cut to fit your specific indoor or outdoor needs. It’s durable, looks real, requires no infill, and is easy to install. If you use a different product that requires infill, Zeodorizer Artificial Turf Infill is a naturally occurring organic product that neutralizes odors.
What to Look for in Artificial Grass for Dogs
The downside of artificial grass is that they are mostly made from interwoven synthetic plastics and rubber, which are made from fossil fuels and prevents them from being reasonable to recycle. Near the end of the grass’s life, you could find ways to repurpose it or give it to others who will. Otherwise, the landfill will be its final destination, so be sure you’re committed to the idea before undertaking a large area.
There are also environmental benefits to artificial turf over the perfect natural lawn. Artificial turf does not require watering, fertilizer, or pesticides to control weeds or insects.
Some services and retailers claim that their turf is eco-friendly and sustainable. But you have to look closer to know for sure. Polyethylene, a common plastic used in turf yarn, can be considered sustainably made when the ethanol used to synthesize it comes from the fermentation of sugar extracted from corn or beets. Polyethylene made in this way is considered a “bioplastic” and degrades much faster—within a few months to a few years—compared to several hundred to several thousand years or more for other plastics. But the manufacturing process still consumes energy.
Since interwoven products are no longer recyclable or biodegradable, when mixed with other materials, the product might be better described as more eco-friendly than other products.
Materials & Durability
Because most artificial grasses are made of a combination of plastic and rubber, you want them to be durable and last, so you’re not creating a lot of waste for the landfill.
The yarn, or grass part of your turf, is made of either a single plastic or a combination of the plastics polyethylene, polypropylene, and nylon. Nylon is the most expensive and durable yarn material, but it’s not soft and is not commonly used for pet greens. Select products whose grass filaments are UV- and fade-resistant, that customers confirm are durable, and that come with a quality warranty. Those that use multiple colors of yarn tend to look more like a true lawn. The most realistic-looking grasses include a thatch yarn in a different color, weight, or texture meant to mimic the inconsistencies of natural grass. It often makes sense to spend a little more on a quality product rather than buying a less expensive product you’ll have to replace often.
Pile thickness, or grass height, is somewhat of a matter of preference, although a thicker pile will likely hold up better for larger dogs.
The density of the yarn (also called stitch count) is the number of blades per square inch. A denser stitch count usually signifies a higher-quality, more durable turf that looks more like a real lawn.
You might also see the term "face weight," which refers to how many ounces of material per square yard a type of turf has. Heavier face weights generally indicate better quality and more durability, but face weight does not include the weight of the backing material.
Most turf has a two-part backing. The primary backing is often made of woven polypropylene fabric, also called a grid, that allows the artificial grass yarn fibers to be tufted into the material in rows. The best backing will resist stretching.
The secondary backing is often a rubber coating applied to the reverse side of the primary backing in order to permanently lock the tufted fibers permanently in place. Together, the primary and secondary backing make up the back weight. Higher quality back weights are above about 26 ounces. Opt for higher back weights for high-traffic areas.
Unless you’re buying a small patch of grass in a catchment tray, grasses installed for pet use should have a fully permeable backing with drainage holes that allow pet urine to pass through. Without them, urine will sit in the turf, trapping odors and leaving moisture near the surface for your dog to track into your home.
If you’ll be installing the grass yourself, be sure to research the manufacturers' installation instructions before you buy. Some require more preparation of the ground surface, or sub-base, than others. Your artificial grass will look better and last longer if you properly prepare the sub-base—often a layer of compacted sand, crushed granite, river rocks, and gravel beneath the artificial grass that allows for optimal drainage and support.
Consider what associated materials will be needed for installation and include them in your cost evaluation. Thoroughly measure and plan so you buy enough square footage and determine whether the brand you choose sells artificial grass in rolls that will suit your space. Some require seam tape for connecting multiple strips of artificial turf, or you can buy interlocking sections.
Some artificial grasses don’t require infill so consider this factor before committing since it will have an additional cost and labor. In turf that requires infill, choosing the right one will keep your artificial turf in top shape and help with longevity. Artificial grass designed for use with infill will become flat and matted if you skip the infill.
Infill helps keep fibers upright, acting as a stabilizer to prevent the turf from moving, and they can also make the grass look and feel more realistic. Some help keep the turf cooler in hot weather, while others that are black or other dark colors will heat up the turf, so consider those recommended for your climate when selecting an infill.
Infills also cushion your dog’s paws and protect the backing from sun damage. A wide variety of infill materials are available, including silica sand and black crumb rubber. For pet surfaces, choose brands with antimicrobial, anti-odor, or cooling properties.
Is artificial grass safe for dogs?
“Artificial turf is safe for dogs to use for elimination, but no dog should be left unattended with any form of artificial surface until they are old enough to be trusted not to ingest any of the surface,” says Kate Perry, a certified dog trainer with the Animal Behavior College and author of the bestselling guide “Training for Both Ends of the Leash.“ "If you cannot trust your dog not to chew on the surface, an alternative form of elimination surface, such as an eco-friendly WizSmart Pad, would be a better solution.”
How do you install artificial grass?
Many hire a professional when installing artificial grass over a natural turf. That’s because it requires multiple preparation steps before you roll out the turf. That includes accurately measuring, removing the turf, and laying weed barriers, gravel, and sand layers. There is also a range of ways to cut, trim, tape, and bind artificial grass. You’ll likely have the best results if you watch a few short how-to videos or articles like this one by Bob Vila that can provide much more detail than we can include here.
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This piece was written by Lorraine Wilde, who has had at least two dog companions in her home for the past 35 years. When researching these brands, she evaluated the type and quality of the materials, the company’s research and development of the grass, and their business ethics. She has only the highest standards for pet products in your home. She holds a master's degree in environmental science with an emphasis on toxicology.
Kate Perry is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and a certified dog trainer with the Animal Behavior College, where she also works as a mentor-trainer, teaching students how to become trainers in their own right. She is the author of the best-selling guide, "Training for Both Ends of the Leash," and was rated "New York's Best Dog Trainer" by New York Magazine. Her philosophy and methodology, which have been approved by numerous veterinarians, centers on the use of positive reinforcement.