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How long can you leave lawn protection mats in place?

By Brett Hart Created: July, 2022 - Modified: January, 2024

When you’re looking to protect a manicured lawn from anything from massive construction equipment to heavy foot traffic, lawn protection mats are an amazing asset to keep the grass looking pristine. However, leaving these mats in place too long can cause damage of their own as they can smother or burn the grass if you aren’t careful.

So how long can you leave ground protection mats in place, you ask? That really depends on the type of mat you are using and the environment in which they are being used.

As a general rule, the hotter the environment and/or the more direct sunlight these areas will see, the shorter your window is to leave them in place. However, there are also several other factors at play, including the design and color of the mats. Let’s take a look at your most popular options, which include:
  • Black Mats
  • Clear Mats
  • Raised Mats

Black Ground Protection Mats

black lawn protection mat

Often the most affordable option, black ground protection mats are generally around ½ inch thick and made from a polyethylene plastic material. The mats are usually solid - except for those with molded handles or holes for connecting multiple mats together.

The solid, opaque construction and dark color of these mats does cause them to heat fairly quickly. In cooler climates, these types of mats are generally ok to leave in place for a day, but should be lifted at the end of the day to prevent damage to the grass below. Hotter climates will decrease the length of time they can be installed.

Clear Lawn Protection Mats

clear lawn protection mat

Clear ground protection mats are usually at bit thicker at ¾ inch and also made of PE plastic. The great thing about these mats is they are specifically designed to allow grass to continue growing even with the mats in place. This is due to the fact that they allow UV penetration. Plus being light in color, they do not heat up as quickly as the black mats.

With that being said, they are still solid and fairly heavy at 86 pounds per 4x8 foot sheet, so the grass won’t be able to grow freely. It just gives you a little more wiggle room for leaving the mats in place. Generally a few days is fine. Just be sure to monitor what is happening with your grass to ensure you are not smothering it.

One greatmats customer, Axel Landscape, located in Hopkins, Minnesota, did its own test that included a black mat and a clear mat left in place for 5 days, which showed little-to-no damage done to the grass after 5 days under a clear mat.

Raised Ground Protection Mats

matrax raised lawn protection mats

Raised ground protection mats generally are square rather than rectangular in shape and interlock together. On the underside of the mats is often a grid or pedestal style support structure that lifts the surface off of the ground, creating space for air and water flow.

That support structure also limits how much the grass will be crushed underneath the mats. The surface is also usually perforated for drainage purposes, which adds to the water and airflow underneath the surface. While this style of temporary outdoor flooring is generally solid in color, it does allow a little sunlight to slip through the perforations.

While this style of system often ranges from ¾ inch to 1 ½ inch thick, it’s also the lightest weight - due in part to the fact that they are smaller in size (1x1 foot or 3.89 x 3.89 feet) and partly because they are not solid. You also have the option of getting pedestrian focused products in addition to drivable mats. Pedestrian mats will be lighter weight as a rule.

Greatmats customer Sonya Smith, of Washington state, left her Portable Outdoor Tiles in place for 2 weeks and found some yellowing of the grass, but also noted that some grass was also starting to grow through the perforations of the tiles.

portable lawn protection tiles

So while there is no exact timeframe for length of time lawn protection mats can be left installed without killing the grass, we hope this helps give you an idea of what to watch for.