How To Install An Artificial Lawn

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Installing a low maintenance artificial lawn for the home is easy if you follow these steps. Identify the area for the new artificial lawn. Mark off the boundaries with an outdoor spray can marker. Artificial turf generally is available in 15-foot rolls. So, plan the new turf area with as few seams as possible. Once the new turf area is marked, calculate the lineal feet required to plan the budget for the project.

Remove The Old Lawn

Remove the sod (grass) by using shovels, renting a gas powered sod puller or hiring local laborers. Remove approximately 3-inches to 5-inches of soil to make room for the new sub-base and turf materials. Remove all tree roots and large rocks. Pitch the soil slightly away from the house and other structures to allow for water to run-off. This is a good time to cap off or remove any underground irrigation within the artificial lawn area. When the grading is finished, compact the remaining soil with a vibrating plate compactor. These are available at most local rental yards.

Install The Borders & Paths

Depending on your landscape, there are many choices for borders and paths. Natural stone, rock, metal or plastic edging, bricks, concrete curbing, or polypropylene impregnated wood bender board are all good choices. They will have the same life span as artificial turf. Make sure your border materials carry a warranty similar to the new artificial turf being installed.

Prepare The Sub-Base

Install the new sub-base with ¾-inch minus aggregate material to a minimum depth of 2-inches. Rake this layer out evenly, or to the desired contour. Keep drainage and water flow in mind during this process. Water should flow away from all structures. One yard of this aggregate material will cover up to 150 square feet at depth of 2-inches. Lightly wet the entire aggregate surface. Use a vibrating plate compactor again to compact the surface several times. Repeat this process until the base is quite firm. Next, install a leveling layer of ¼-inch minus decomposed granite to a depth of 1-inch. Rake this layer out to the desired grade and compact, as mentioned earlier. One yard of decomposed granite will cover approximately 310 square feet at a depth of 1-inch.

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How To Install The Artificial Lawn Like A Pro

  • Once the base is compacted, roll out artificial turf and tack in place, using galvanized nails 16d or 40d, spikes, or landscape staples. All pieces of artificial turf should be laid down in the same direction.
  • Then, cut and fit the turf into all perimeter borders as needed. A carpet knife works well for this. Secure the perimeter of the artificial turf every six to12-inches.
  • Where two pieces of artificial turf come together, it will need a seam. The seams are simply glued together with outdoor carpet glue and 12” wide seaming tape. At the joint seam, a 12-inch wide piece of seaming tape should be cut to the length of the seam. The artificial turf is laid seam to seam. Check that it fits tightly together before the turf is glued. The pattern of turf stitching on the under side must run in the same direction before the two pieces are glued.
  • Pull back both sides of the turf at the seam to install the seam tape. Check both sides of the seam. It should be properly trimmed to match up perfectly. Lay the seam tape down on the base directly between the two pieces of turf that are to be joined. Apply gluing compound to the entire piece of seam tape with a notched trowel. Place one side of the turf in the middle of the tape. Lay the other side of the turf over the middle of the seam tape to match up exactly to the turf that has just been glued to the tape. Mesh the fibers together using your fingers or a brush. Allow 24 hours for the glue to properly dry.
  • Spread a layer of silica sand using a drop spreader. Drop spreaders are typically used to distribute fertilizer. Evenly distribute #20 grit silica sand over the entire artificial turf area. Apply between 1-lb. and 3-lbs. of silica sand per square foot to lend weight to the turf. This helps to prevent expansion and contraction of the turf during temperature changes.Work the silica sand down into the fibers of the artificial turf, by using a 24" stiff bristle, or coarse nylon push broom. If available, power brooms can make this go faster and easier.

Installing artificial turf allows you the beauty of grass without the hassle of mowing, weeding or fertilizing. Just keep an eye out for any damage that may occur, and patch as necessary.

Last Updated: February 7, 2012
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About Bill Washburn William "Bill" Washburn has a BA in advertising from the Art Center College of Design and has taught at the University of Southern California and Northrup University. Writing from a well-connected studio in the rural foothills of the west coast, he is a frequent speaker at local art associations and has published numerous articles discussing periods of art history and the fundamentals of drawing and painting. William is a master gardener who grows his own culinary herbs, organic heirloom vegetables and a variety of fruits. He writes frequently about his gardening experiences on his website Pioneer Dad. He is an accomplished advertising writer, fine art painter, and art director with more than 20 years' experience. 

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