How to Lay Artificial Grass

london fake grass installation
Having a nice garden with a beautiful, green, fresh-looking grass area is something every homeowner would like to have. Real grass, though, needs its fair share of weekly maintenance. There are a lot of lawn care tricks you would need to learn, each one of them – specially designed for the many different types of grass, available out there. It takes a lot of knowledge and time, something many of us do not have. That’s why many people consider turning to the affordable and quick solution of installing artificial grass in their yards. In this helpful guide, we will show you all the necessary steps you need to take to do this on your own.

Table of Contents:

Measure Your Garden

First, you need to make a good plan of your garden and decide where exactly you would like to have your artificial grass. Second, measure the area a couple of times just to be sure. You can use a tape measure or do it by mapping the plot out on a grid system. As long as the calculations are correct at the end, it doesn’t really matter. Artificial grass is charged per square meter, so you should be really precise when taking measurements and placing them in your order. It’s a good idea to purchase some extra length, so you have the opportunity to cut the patches to fit your space as accurately as possible and not end up being short of material. The best thing you can do is to have a friend over to help you with the measurements.

Order Your Artificial Grass

After spending some quality measure time, you now have to choose the type of synthetic grass you want to buy. Check the internet or the shops, so you can have a good base to compare prices and quality. It’s always a good idea to ask some friends and family around if they could help you with your choice.
There are three main types of artificial grass you can choose from:

  • Nylon. Nylon grass is maybe the most expensive of all kinds, but the high price comes for a reason. It has the looks and the durability, you’d expect. This type is the strongest one of all. It will never lose its grassy shape, it will not melt even in the highest temperatures, nor lose its robust feel. So, if your garden space endures a lot of foot traffic, this grass will be able to withstand anything you will throw at it.
  • Polyethylene. Polyethylene grass is many people’s first choice, due to its functional and aesthetically pleasing features. The life-like soft texture and vibrant green colour make it extremely realistic, hence, preferable. Often, this type of artificial grass is used for soccer, baseball, and football fields. When combined with a secondary nylon thatch, it becomes even more resilient. The required maintenance includes mostly just an occasional raking.
  • Polypropylene. You will be tempted by this type of artificial turf mostly because it’s the cheapest one of all. Still, the bargain price may come at a different type of cost for you. It is not as nearly as durable as the other two types and has a lower melting point. Give it a couple of sunny, hot days and the blades will quickly lose their initial shape and natural look. It could work as an inside carpet or in a decorative area with less sunshine and hardly any foot traffic.
So, take your time when choosing the exact type of artificial grass, which will fit best your needs. Bear in mind that even if the initial investment seems like a lot, in the following years, you will see it paying off. Especially if you have children and/or pets, who will test the grass’s limits every sunny day.

Now that you have chosen the type and you have the measurements of your garden, you are finally ready to order. Usually, one roll of grass is around 25 metres long, varying from 1 to 4 metres wide. Don’t forget that you will also need the proper tools to complete the task. Some of them you might already have, but others, you will most likely need to buy. Here is what you will need:

  • A seaming tape
  • A sharp Stanley knife or a cutting blade
  • A geotextile membrane – it will prevent weeds from growing in between your grass blades
  • Some oval head fixing pins
  • Artificial grass adhesive
  • Spreader to spread the adhesive

Identify The Ground Type

Another important pre-installing step is to check what sort of ground you have beneath. By finding out what soil type you have, you will be able to also determine the level of drainage. This will help you establish what kind of stone aggregate or sand you will have to add. If you cannot decide exactly which type your soil it is, you can check the detailed information, offered right here.

This is only needed, of course, if you have decided to install the grass directly over soil. Another option is to do it on a concrete surface. In that case, head over to our post, devoted especially on the process of how to lay artificial grass on concrete.

Clearing The Area

Just like any clearance, start with the biggest objects. Remove any items and green waste from the patch you will be working on and around it, as well. After you are done, grab your digging tools and put on the garden gloves. Dig the turf with a spade or a turf cutter down to around 100mm. This will help making your artificial grass look even more natural and not too tall at the end, when compared to the surrounding areas.

Preparing the Base

Commonly, ground types are clay-based or mostly made up of sand-based soils. Depending on which category your soil falls under, you will decide how exactly you have to prepare the base before proceeding with the artificial grass installation job. Sand-based soils offer good drainage so, for creating the base, it’s good to use 50mm of sharp sand. With the clay-based type, the situation is different. There is barely any drainage, so you would most likely need to add an extra stone layer subbase. It should consist of type one stone, with a depth of 50-100 mm.

Levelling and Compacting

A good subbase is a smooth subbase. Even out the sand across the area, taking in mind the possible difference in depth in the different parts of the garden. You’ll need to fill any deep spots with a bit more sand, of course. As we’ve mentioned, the base needs to be nice and even before installing the artificial grass. But having an occasional bump in places might help the surface look a bit more natural. So, you can “take the odd liberty” to some extent. When it comes to tools, many people use an electric compaction plate to level the surface. If you don’t own one, worry not! You can just use a flat, straight piece of timber.

Installing a Landscape Fabric

As we mentioned a bit earlier, before placing the grass roll(s) into position, you will need to fit a protective weed membrane underneath. It will not only prevent anything from growing in between the grass blades, but it will also make the base a bit more stable. Place the sheets over the area with around 30cm of overlap.

Roll Out the Lawn

Okay. All the preparations are done. Your grass has finally arrived and you’re now ready for action. But how do you do it exactly? Thankfully, the process is not hard to complete at all. You just roll the synthetic material out. Yes, artificial grass comes in big rolls, so when the time for installation comes, you only need to place the turf in one of the corners and roll it out until it reaches the other end. Our advice is to leave it for one night to settle properly. If the area you are working on is a bit larger, you may need two or more rolls of grass. If this is the case, you will have to buy a joining tape and an appropriate adhesive, both designed for outdoor use. Secure the grass with a wooden batten or by placing landscaping nails every 10-20cm. When you are finished, brush with a broom.

Cutting and Tidying

Just placing the grass, though, does not mean that you are finished. If you look carefully, you will see that there are many rough edges, which need to be trimmed away with a craft knife, for example. Whether you have only one roll or more, you have to make sure that everything is installed neatly and nothing is popping up from underneath.

Glue together

As we’ve pointed out earlier, you will need to use a joining tape and an appropriate adhesive to secure two pieces of synthetic turf and cover a large area in your garden. So, get a Stanley knife, after you’ve rolled out the pieces of grass into position and cut a couple or more rows of stitches from both. Then, before you lay the joining tape (always with the shiny side, facing down), fold back the edges of the adjoining rolls of grass. Once the tape has been positioned properly, spread the glue evenly with a spreader or apply it with an adhesive cartridge gun in a zig-zag pattern. It is crucial to ensure that both rolls of turf have a sufficient area (5cm), covered with the glue, to make a good and neat bond with the tape. Pay heed not to damage any grass blades by getting them onto the glue.

Pinning it Down

If you decided to go with a timber frame to create a solid edge around the area (usually, recommended), make sure to secure the grass to it with screws or nails every 150-200mm. You can also glue it to the horizontal haunch of your edging block, if timber was not your choice material for framing but concrete. Another option is to just use ground pins and bash them with a hammer around 20-30cm away from the edges. As a final step, brush the grass again to hide the presence of the pins.

Should You Use Sand Infill for Artificial Grass?

Another option to pin the grass well to the ground is to use sand infill. There are multiple benefits to it such as increased durability, fire resistance, cost effectiveness and versatility to the artificial grass installation, however, there are also a few disadvantages. In order to get a better understanding, you can check our post on the matter here.

Finishing Touches

Before you’re tempted to let your kids run around on the newly installed synthetic turf, you need to make sure that the glue has dried out completely and all loose grass blades, debris and dirt have been removed with a stiff brush. Another important finishing touch that you should not forget to do is to in-fill the artificial grass surface with silica sand.

The purpose of using this material is:

  • Boosts the grass’s fire resistance
  • Stops it from rippling
  • Holds the surface in a secure position
  • Keeps it cool on hot days
  • Protects the synthetic fibres
To be on the safe side, leave the silica sand to settle and cure for about two hours before using your new and never-wilting, “evergreen” lawn.

Artificial Grass Maintenance Tips

Caring for your synthetic turf is far less time-consuming than mowing, watering and aerating a real lawn, for instance. So, follow these tips to enjoy your artificial grass for longer:

  • Rake the surface or use a leaf blower on a regular basis to remove debris.
  • Brush the grass with a broom to keep the fibres looking even, neat and straight.
  • Clean spills straight away with a mild detergent.
  • Pet accidents are best left to harden up before removing them and wiping the residue with a disinfectant.
  • Make sure that you don’t place any heavy objects and furniture in one place, but distribute them evenly across the lawn to avoid indentations.
  • Never place cooking devices on your turf and also, use sharp objects around it with caution.
  • Address straight away any repair issues, whether they are related to installation mishaps or accidents during use.
So, we hope that this post will help you get things right if you decide that artificial grass is the best choice for your garden. As you can see, it’s not rocket science to install and it is pretty low maintenance. Of course, if you’re not the DIY type of person, you can always call for professional landscaping help and get a seasoned specialist to complete the job for you.

Did you find the information worth sharing? Or maybe, you’ve got some tips and trick of your own about laying artificial turf? Then, please, use the comment box below to encourage our readers in making an informed decision.

Posted in All About the Lawn, Garden Advice

Last update: January 22, 2019
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