We made the decision to have fake grass after battling with the real stuff in a part of our garden that we reclaimed from a wilderness state.
It can be used all year round with all resources on it
We have tyre planters for children to plant into and have two Spring tyres for bulbs and primroses/primulas, another tyre with a small willow to show seasonal change which we underplant with annuals such as love in a mist and another tyre with bamboo which we are growing to form a den type area.
The "grass" area also has a large sandpit and our Wendy House on it.
When we installed it we were concerned that we had lost some of the "natural feel" but the children love it and one little one dived across it so that he could rub his face and hands in it and pronounced that he loved it.
Low maintenance with no mowing - which when you are a term time setting is a real benefit especially over the six weeks break and when it's dry we can brush it clean and have even on occasion given it a good hoover !
Cost - however we got a local trade to do it for £1500 and it is guaranteed for 10 years
For those of you who worry about loosing the natural look - well we have had it for two years now and nature will out - some of our annuals such as love in a mist and california poppies have self set and we are letting them grow through without the area returning to a wilderness of nettles and brambles.
We are very lucky that our Church landlords are v. amenable and let us reclaim the wasteland when capital access grant funding was available so therefore it didn't cost us anything. Our original playground (which we still have was a mix of concrete and spongy play surface) so nothing natural there.
At one point in our "grass" garden we had a one meter square raised bed which we divided up into a "square foot garden" for planting edibles and cropped radish, beetroot, lettuce, garlic, spring onions and potatoes. We have however "reclaimed" a grass strip in the church carpark and now have an allotment instead. And yes we do know how lucky we are, however I think that our Church landlords now appreciate that we are a bit like "friends with benefits" as our outdoor space has greatly improved what was there originally and the Church parishioners (always good to have them on board) like the changes we have made.
I hasten to add that this has all taken time - we have been there nearly 10 years now.
So to all nature lovers out there - a fake grass garden is not necessarily the death knell to nature that it is perceived to be