How to Install your Artificial Grass
Everything You Need to Know About Installing Artificial Grass
One of the obvious perks about installing a synthetic lawn is the low-to-no maintenance part. That is, if you do the installation correctly off the bat. If there are tiny beads of sweats building along your hairline, you are likely considering doing it yourself. A DIY can be daunting, especially if you have a seriously large lawn.
Before we specify in detail how the installation process goes, we should probably cover the basics first. Here are the major points you have to remember when choosing your artificial grass. We list them down below for your consumption.
Points to Remember When Choosing Artificial Grass:
The best type of grass to choose is the one that best responds to your needs. You have to make sure that the artificial grass you’re getting is one that’s perfect for the reason you’re installing it in the first place. The 5 most popular uses for synthetic grass include yards, dog runs, play spaces, outdoor living areas, and backyard putting greens. But you don’t have to stop there.
With a creative mindset, you can create more combinations with more specific installation projects. For instance, you can install fake grass on your rooftop or balcony or even custom cut an artificial turf carpet for your bedroom for that cool outdoorsy feel. The great thing about synthetic grass is that it’s practical in so many aspects. It can simply replace your natural lawn or become an outlet for all your creative ideas.
2. Physical Characteristics
The 5 basic features that define every type of fake grass include the following;
Backing Weight - Backing weight is the total weight of the turf’s primary backing and the secondary coating for every square yard of turf. The backing is the part of the artificial turf that holds everything together, so it’s mandatory that this component is durable. The higher the backing weight, the more durable it is. You may consider products with lower backing weight for purely decorative purposes.
Pile Height - The blade or pile height is the length of the longest blade that can be found in your turf. A sufficient pile height can make the turf look like a perfectly grown bed of grass.
Durability - Refers to the length of time the grass blades or the turf itself will be able to hold its shape and withstand its listed foot traffic. The better the durability rating, the longer you can expect the turf to last.
Feel - The texture of the grass as compared to natural turf. The closer it is to the real deal (try feeling it with your eyes closed!) the better quality it is. Take note that high-traffic blades (the ones used for extreme sports) are designed to be tougher and as such, they would not feel as luxurious as the ones you would want to install in, say, your patio or play area. If you’re having doubts about what feels right, just ask to speak with a product specialist for recommendations.
Color - Natural grass will never be a perfect tone of green. There will always be areas that will wilt first and will add a yellowish or whitish color to the mix. Some people prefer their artificial grass to look as green as green goes so single toned turfs will be perfect for them. Other clients, on the other hand, prefer their turfs to be more on the natural side. If you’re a part of this group then go for multi-toned synthetic turfs with different colored thatches as well.
It’s not really uncommon to find bad quality synthetic grass on the market nowadays. When it comes to artificial grass, you literally get what you pay for. High-quality fake grass involves a large amount of research and care in manufacturing and distribution as well as design and innovation. Although this shouldn’t make the price tag go absurdly high, it shouldn’t make it dirt cheap either.
High-quality synthetic grass will not only look good, it should also perform well and last as long or even longer than its average life of 25 years with the proper care. A good marker of quality is the length of the warranty being offered by the seller. The manufacturer’s warranty is a badge of their confidence in their products. The longer the warranty, the better.
Warranty reflects quality and says a lot about the manufacturer’s faith in their products and services. More than a decade and you know you are getting the best the industry can offer. MegaGrass overs a manufacturer’s warranty of 15 years – that’s five more than our competitors.
A common mistake that a lot of fake grass newbies make is not thinking long-term. Some of them skimp on quality synthetic turf to save a few hundred only to end up replacing most of their lawn in a few years or worse, just a few months. An artificial grass project is a long-term investment for your home or commercial space. If you go for the premium brand right off the bat, you will eventually come to see that your grass will pay for itself over time.
If you’re having issues justifying the costs of your synthetic grass lawn, you can always ask around for financing options. A lot of manufacturers offer easy payment installation options for those who have challenges in paying straight cash. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance, the right company will make you comfortable in coming up with terms acceptable to you.
Now that you have been introduced to the basics, let’s get you started on the steps you need to take to install your artificial grass lawn. There are actually 3 major parts in the installation process - preparing the area, installing the base, and installing the lawn. In this post, we provide a comprehensive account of the details for each part and the steps involved.
PART 1: PREPARING THE AREA
- You don’t want weeds to ruin your newly installed artificial lawn. Get rid of them before they can cause problems. Spray the installation area with a non-toxic weed killer you trust. Make sure there are no other existing vegetation on the area you want to install your turf on. Do this at about two weeks before you start your landscaping project to give the weed killer ample time to work. Keep in mind that it is mandatory that the plant material is dead down to its roots.
- When excavating rain-soaked soil, let it dry for a few days before you proceed. This will minimize the chances of slumping. A slight slope will help improve drainage, and although the remaining surface doesn’t have to be perfectly graded, you would do well to walk over the area or use a hand tamp to apply pressure to any loose soil.
Remember to remove the top level of the soil, if that’s where you’re planning to install your lawn. To make room for the new base, dig the top by 3 or 4 inches. There are a lot of tools you can use to break up the soil easily. If there are existing grass, weeds, or other plants on the area, make sure to remove them so they don’t create an uneven surface after they die.
- Carefully plan your drainage. Installations built on top of well-draining soil should give you little to no problems, as the synthetic grass is usually permeable. If, however, you have no choice but to install on top of poorly draining soil or a hard surface such as concrete, it’s best you take the following precautions: in the absence of a drain near the lawn, install an efficient drainage system before you continue. There really is no way around it. If the area experiences very light rainfall, small drainage gaps at around every 6” around the perimeter should be enough to keep things moving.
- Install a sturdy border. If not already present, install a waterproof border along the perimeter to keep the lawn from slumping or slowly separating over time. There are a lot of options available but a simple bender board is usually enough. If you’re interested or looking to overhaul the border, you can just pour a concrete curb surrounding the area instead. Make sure that the border is NOT above the grass level otherwise the drainage may suffer.
- Adding a weed barrier is optional, but this extra step eliminates the hassle of weeds poking through your synthetic turf. It won’t break the bank to include in your installation plan. This is that extra precaution in case your weed killer stops working just as you’re about to install your turf, sometimes even after the turf has been laid out.
To make sure this doesn’t happen, you can lay out a geotextile barrier at the very bottom of the dug-up area. Aside from weed, this can also help deter gophers and earthworms. Do keep in mind that this barrier can be a bit heavy, so you may need extra hands when handling it. Ideally, this is installed under the base material. Throw in some rodent wire between the base material and natural soil, if your space is frequented by the not-so-cute garden terrors. If you’re not entirely sure if it’s already safe to install your synthetic grass, you can always contact a professional pest control company to help you. You wouldn’t want wild rodents destroying your freshly installed lawn.
Part 2: INSTALLING THE BASE
- Add the base material best suited for your installation area. Depending on where you live geographically, the material you use for your sub-base and the depth in which you need to dig could vary. Places like Arizona and Nevada actually have decomposed granite and crushed rock beneath it already. Regions that experience harsh winters like Minnesota or Wisconsin, need a trench of at least 6-8 inches to accommodate the extreme weather that makes the grass expand and contract. With artificial grass -it’s all about the sub-base. But for an area with a mild climate, here’s what to do: Buy gravel, crushed rock, decomposed granite, or pretty much any material smaller than ⅜ inches. Pour around 3 - 4 inches of the base material to improve drainage and prevent the grass from slumping.
While shock and lawn pads are optional, if you’re installing your lawn over a hard surface such as concrete, a self-leveling compound or a quality rubber shock pad should work well as a drainage slope. Of course, if children or elderly people will frequent your synthetic lawn, you may want to add a shock pad to minimize injuries and as a solid precaution.
- Grade the base. With a landscaping rake, smooth out the base material. You can make use of a string, bubble level, and ruler to grade flat surfaces to a 2–3% slope. This down-slope will contribute to the efficiency of your drainage system.
- Slightly wet and compact the base. Lightly sprinkle the base with a garden hose to lubricate the material in preparation for compaction. Be careful not to overwater the base. You can either use a plate compactor, hand tamp, or roller compactor to apply pressure until a sturdy base is achieved. Ideally, the base should be reduced to around 90% of its original depth, it should feel like concrete but retain its permeability.
Several back and forth passes in different and overlapping directions are required to get the best compaction results. If budget is not an issue, you can rent or buy a vibratory plate compactor which is the most effective option for this particular step. A hand tamp can be purchased permanently at a very affordable price.
- Roll out the lawn on the side of your prepared base as it dries. Unrolling the turf during this time, gives it a couple of hours to recover its shape after being tightly packed for shipping and transport. Check that the base material is dry, smooth, and firm before you proceed with the next step. If the base is not smooth, more compaction is required. If the base is lower than expected, you may need to add another layer of material. This is to guarantee that when you join the seams of the synthetic turf together, it isn’t an uneven mess. Any misstep in this step (no pun intended), will result in an overall wavy look to your yard or space.
- Lay your seam fabric over the base layers, serving as the layer just right below your grass.
Part 3: INSTALLING THE LAWN
- Stretch out every turf strip and lay down over the base. DO NOT drag the grass over the base or you might ruin the smooth surface. Using a carpet stretcher or a carpet kicker is an optional but otherwise helpful step. A carpet stretcher can stretch the strips of turf shortly before you fasten or seam them. Stretching the turf using this tool eliminates wrinkles, reduces expansion brought about by heat, and helps secure the surface tighter to the ground. Synthetic turfs blades tend to bend towards a specific side. A good rule of thumb when deciding where your grass should be pointing is to use your eyes. No literally, they should be pointing towards your eyes when you’re looking at the space as a whole. For instance, grass you’re installing on your front yard, should point to the street, for grass installed in your backyard, the blades should be pointing to your house. That’s it’s ‘good side.’
- Trim the excess artificial turf at least by 2 – 3 stitch rows out. The edges of the grass patch are the weakest parts of the turf, so as to avoid the edges of your yard caving to either side, eliminate the problem. Cut it off! You can use a utility knife or a carpet cutter to cut the underside of the turf. For long cuts, cut short distances at a time and repeatedly compare the edges to make sure there are no visible gaps. You may also use a marker to draw a line guide onto the back of the turf.
- Peel back about 2 feet of your loosely laid turf to reveal the seaming tape beneath it (remember? We put it on top of the base layers), and then apply your turf glue in a serpentine pattern and make sure that the glue is bulging up and not flat.
- Seam the strips of turf together carefully. Some installers lay seaming tape on the ground and then place the two turf strips on top of it. Others simply fasten the strips using staples or nails, with ideal positioning at approximately 1 every 3 inches. After you seam the grass, put some weight on it and let it dry for two hours before proceeding to the next step.
- Secure the turf perimeter. Use landscaping anchor pins or 4 – 6 inch galvanized stakes to fasten the turf in place, just around the perimeter at around 6 – 8 inch intervals, also along the seam. Although you need to hammer them flat, you should be extra careful and avoid excessive hammering as it can cause dips in your lawn. For a more secure fit, offset the stakes on opposite sides instead of using 2 lines of stakes opposite each other.
- Add infill of choice to your product. Majority of fake turf require specialty infill to keep the blades standing, to weigh the grass down, and to provide the cushioning for intensive use. Before applying the infill material, make sure that the lawn is completely dry. You can use a drop spreader or simply scatter the infill by hand. Rake in every layer until smooth. For the best results scatter 1.5 inches to grass with face weights of up to 60 oz. Anything more than that face weight should know you’re done when approximately half the blade length has been covered.
- Remember to brush the turf in between infill applications. After you’re done raking the infill, you can use a power broom to further bloom your turf and brush up the grass blades. If using a power broom is not an option, you can use a simple carpet rake or nylon-bristled broom.
- Set the infill by watering the lawn. After a day, recheck to see if you like the final result. If you feel like the lawn isn’t bouncy enough or that the grass blades are still too exposed, add and rake in another infill layer. Once you are satisfied with how everything has set, you can use a leaf-blower (optional) to clear out any debris from the lawn surface.
A huge part of your installation success lies on the quality of the artificial turf, products, and the materials that you will use for your installation area. Finding a manufacturer that you can trust will either make or break your landscaping project. It’s why you need the best company to go to for all your artificial turf needs.