Artificial grass is a low maintenance option when looking forward to achieving a look of vegetation in your yard. If properly installed, it merely requires an occasional spray clean as a part of regular maintenance. It’s an excellent option for converting your barren piece of land into an appealing landscape that can last for decades. Now, a lot of confused enthusiasts ask about the procedure to install artificial grass in your yard. Let’s see…
You can complete the artificial grass installation process in four steps:
- Area preparation
- Base installation
- Grass type selection
- Lawn installation.
Each primary step is further divided into sub-sections to make it easier to follow. Let’s take a look at what you need to consider for each step:
#1: Area Preparation
We’ll start with the area preparation. Now, before advancing, let’s understand what “area preparation” actually means. Furthermore, we’ll discuss why this step is so important.
Area preparation for artificial grass installation includes complete removal of vegetation, leveling of soil, and border installation. Other optional steps include installation of drainage and weed barrier. Let’s elaborate on this step.
You can remove wild plants by hand. That’s a quick but tiring method. However, it’s tough to locate little saplings and seeds that are about to germinate. Once you’ve manually removed the plants, the next step can be sprinkling the weed killer. It will ensure that all the vegetation, irrespective of its size, is killed.
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The weed killer isn’t going to eliminate all the unwanted grass and weeds overnight. Begin this procedure at least two weeks before starting with the artificial grass installation. That way, you can ensure that all the vegetation is dead.
If you’re wondering why this step is essential, here’s the answer. If you installed artificial grass over growing grass and weed, the weeds would ultimately die and rot. Although the dead plants will turn into humus, they will release a foul smell in the environment. Who’d want a smelly lawn after all?
Top Soil Removal
Remove a layer of topsoil. You may dig 3 to 4 inches. Why is this step necessary? The turf of artificial grass is estimated to be 3 to 4 inches thick. So, digging the soil will ensure that the grass layer levels up with the entire ground.
If the soil is moist, let it dry entirely before digging and level up after digging.
Artificial grass is permeable, allowing water to pass through it. The absence of a drainage system will lead to water collecting in your lawn. During rainy days, the situation will worsen as the lawn will start flooding.
A plastic border is a great way to improve the appearance of the lawn. It’s also effective in keeping the artificial grass from slumping. Install a waterproof border at the edges and make sure not to leave any spot on the perimeter without a border.
Once you’ve installed the border, the next thing is to add a weed barrier. It will prevent weeds from growing in the future. Although there’s a slim chance that new vegetation will grow once the artificial grass is installed, weed is known to grow out of nowhere.
Moreover, the barrier also prevents earthworms and other terrestrial insects from building their colonies beneath the grass. Geotextile barrier is one good recommendation that you can find on Amazon here. Please note that the weed barrier isn’t any chemical. Instead, it’s a thin sheet that blocks the growth of wild plants and unwanted terrestrial insects.
#2: Base Installation
Although you could have installed the grass directly after installing the weed barrier, it isn’t recommended. Several impatient people usually skip this step, which is wrong. The base installation adds a layer of gravel (or something similar) for the efficient firmness of the grass. Here’s what you need to consider…
Filling The Base Material
Now you have to add some base material such as gravel, decomposed granite, crushed rocks, etc. You can choose any base material from these suggestions. The particles need to be 10mm or smaller.
Cover half the depth of the excavated area with this base material. We previously suggested digging 3 to 4 inches, meaning you need to fill 2 inches with this base material.
Wondering why this base material is so important? The minute gravel particles will create friction and hold the artificial grass firmly. No matter if your kids run on the grass or you wrestle with your buddies, the artificial grass will stay in place. A layer of the base material will also improve the drainage.
Merely dumping the gravel isn’t enough. Level it up by using a landscaping rake. If possible, use a manual (hand-held) road roller to compact the base material layer. The aim is to achieve a flat layer.
Moistening And Compacting The Base
Sprinkle the water gently using a garden hose to ensure the gravel particles stay in place. Water the area as if planting a new sapling. Try not to make it muddy. Again, use a compactor such as a manual road roller to level up the layer. If you performed this task correctly, you’d notice a drop in the height of the base layer along with a flat surface.
Making The Grass Ready To Use
You can’t simply unroll the artificial grass and install it. Since these grass come in the form of rolls, you have to unroll them, spread them somewhere under the sun for a few hours (say 4-5 hours), and let it get ready for installation. It will allow the grass to recover its shape and remove any moisture that could create a foul smell.
Meanwhile, let the base layer dry up completely. Before proceeding, make sure that the base layer is smooth. If not, it requires more compaction. Use the roller compactor or manual road roller.
#3: Artificial Grass Installation
There’s a variety of artificial grass available in the market. We’ll discuss that later, but first; here’s how to actually install the grass…
Laying the Grass
When the grass is ready for installation, spread it on the lawn area. Make sure that all the grass turfs are evenly spread out over the area. There’s a high chance that the grass blades might bend in one direction. Take care of it. How? When you lay all the grass layers, make sure that the grass blades in every turf are in the same direction. Or else the lawn will look artificial.
Cutting The Unnecessary Layer
Once you’ve laid all the layers of your artificial grass on the pit properly, you’ll notice that some part will be out of the pit. Don’t worry, that’s natural. So, the next step is to cut it off. You must use a utility knife or a carpet cutter to cut the grass layer efficiently.
Cut the turf alongside the border that you previously installed. This step is more straightforward said than done, so don’t be in a hurry. Take your time, making sure it is accurately cut so have a nice finish in the end.
Stretch The Grass Layer
Use a carpet stretcher to stretch out the grass layer. If you have no idea how to use a carpet stretcher, check out the following video, demonstrating how to use a carpet stretcher:
This step is crucial because it eliminates all the wrinkles. A few days after the grass installation, you’ll notice that the grass layer has expanded due to heat. To solve this issue and avoid excessive expansion after a few days, stretch the layer now. Furthermore, stretching it helps secure the grass turf tightly to the ground.
NOTE: A carpet stretcher is also called a carpet kicker. (Here’s a durable one available at Amazon)
Fasten The Grass Turf
Once you’ve stretched the grass turf, fasten them alongside the perimeter. For this, use some galvanized stakes or landscaping anchor pins. Hammer these pins at 6 inches intervals and try your best to hammer them nearest to the border. These pins can be 4 to 6 inches long.
Joining The Grass Turfs
Since you installed several layers of artificial grass, the next step will be to join them together. Unfold the edges of two layers adjacent to each other and install a strip of synthetic turf on the exposed ground. Apply adhesive on this strip and unfold the grass layers to stick together on the synthetic strip.
You might find some good alternates of the adhesive, such as outdoor tape. However, artificial lawn manufacturers recommend adhesive only. When you’ve applied an adhesive layer and folded the grass layers back, you may put some heavy rocks or any heavy object, so the grass turfs stick perfectly. Let the adhesive dry overnight.
If you’re extra cautious, you can fasten the turfs with the pins as well (just like you did alongside the border). Just make sure that the pins are well-hammered; otherwise, they might cause serious accidents later. (You can check out turf pins on Amazon here).
The artificial grass requires some sort of material to keep the grass standing and keep down the lawn layer. There are a few options that you can sprinkle on your lawn. These include washed silica sand, black crumb rubber, copper slang, etc.
There’s controversy regarding ballast application, where some people find it essential, while some people find it a waste of money. So how to conclude if you need ballast?
While walking on your lawn, if you ever feel that the grass turf is getting up or is being bouncy, it probably indicates that there’s a need to add some weight to keep it down. That’s when you need ballast.
Brushing And Watering
Once you’ve sprinkled some ballast, use a power broom to brush the grass blades. This step will make your lawn look more appealing and natural.
Finally, water the lawn. It is the final step, and you’ll see the best results the next day after watering it.
#4: Artificial Grass Selection
Remember we told you that there’s a variety of artificial grass available in the market? This section will cover that. Believe it or not, there’s a really efficient procedure while selecting the best artificial grass for your lawn.
The artificial grass selection procedure begins with the material selection, followed by the grass height and color. Finally, additional features such as heat and frost resistance, non-flammable, etc., are a consideration too.
Selecting The Material
Materials used to make artificial grass include nylon, polyethylene, and polypropylene. Let’s take a deeper look at the materials.
Nylon grass is the most robust option available in the market. It’s capable of withstanding the heavyweight and high temperatures without losing strength.
But this strength proves to be troublesome since the stiff grass blades aren’t comfortable when walking on the lawn bare feet. Also, if the kids ever fell while playing, the grass might be prickly. Nylon grass is only recommended if you’re installing a lawn in a tiny portion of your yard.
This type of grass feels far more natural and comfortable than nylon grass. It’s soft, and the texture is very appealing. Unfortunately, the softness makes it non-durable, especially if abused. It’s non-porous and can retain odor just like nylon grass.
One exciting feature of this grass is that it’s easy to wash. It eliminates the chances of bacteria growing in your lawn.
It is the cheapest option available in the market and the least durable one too. It’s unable to withstand high temperatures, and you can’t expect it to retain its texture for a long time either.
Despite so many disadvantages and limitations, people usually prefer this type of grass to practice golf in their yard. That’s because this grass offers a smooth roll for the ball. The soft and silky grass is what allows for such smooth rolls.
Selecting The Size
The next thing you probably want to consider is the grass size. Ideally, there are three main sizes: short, medium, and long. Let’s learn their features of each…
Short grass is good, especially if you have a pet dog. That’s because short grass feels good on the dog’s paws. However, going shorter than 30mm can be troublesome because it’ll look unnatural. Additionally, short grass becomes a little prickly, making it uneasy or uncomfortable when walking bare feet. If you have small kids, they won’t find it suitable to play on the lawn.
Medium length means somewhere between 30mm to 37mm. It’s neither too short nor too long, making your lawn perfect for walking bare feet. Kids can play around without worries, and your pet(s) won’t find it uneasy to walk in it. A lot of people prefer this length for their natural grass. This length makes your lawn ideal for sitting, partying, backyard camping, etc.
Long length becomes ideal for bugs and insects to grow their colonies. Furthermore, it’s pretty tiring to clean such long grass. Long grass is above 37mm in length. However, it’ll be perfect for sitting, walking, partying, etc., pretty much everything you can do in medium grass. Unfortunately, you might notice flat patches at random places on the grass since long grass easily flattens due to excessive weight.
Selecting The Color
You’ll generally find three different colored artificial grass on the market:
The most common, natural, and preferred color. Green-colored grass is capable of giving a realistic look to the yard. Green-colored grass comes in several textures and shades that will allow you to customize your garden as you wish. The dark and shiny color gives a feeling of healthy grass. This way, you can achieve a healthy-looking lawn without investing much time and effort in maintaining natural grass.
The mere thought of blue grass could be uncommon to many people, but many buyers willingly install blue grass in their yard. If you’re installing artificial grass for your kids, you might consider blue color as an option. Playgrounds usually have blue grass.
Other Bright Colors
Bright colored grass such as orange, turquoise, pink, yellow, etc., is available. The applications are different from achieving a natural look on your lawn. These colors are preferred if you’re making a lawn for sports and athletics. However, they’re least popular for yard lawns.
Special Features of Artificial Grass
Apart from varying colors, length, and material, artificial grass possesses some of the other notable features demanded by many buyers. Let’s see what those highlights are.
Outdoor installation of artificial grass is the most common application, meaning it must be capable of withstanding the harsh sun rays. If your grass isn’t UV stabilized, it won’t stand a chance to tolerate all the punishment that sun rays have got to offer. UV stabilized grass can retain its texture and color. Also, it can endure high temperatures without losing its strength.
If your artificial grass is absorbent, it’ll absorb the foul smell of bugs, insects, animals, etc. It also means that the natural odor of the grass will be lost. Therefore, several buyers demand non-absorbent fiber grass, which won’t absorb any smell (whether foul or sweet smell).
Additionally, non-absorbent fiber can further reduce the need to clean the grass more often due to the absence of unpleasant odor.
Natural grass has cytoplasm found in plant cells. This liquid prevents plants from catching fire to some extent, meaning the plant won’t catch fire so easily. Artificial grass would be nylon or plastic. These materials catch fire very quickly, hence posing the risk of fire accidents during parties or barbeque, etc.
Non-flammable grass is the solution to this problem. Although it doesn’t mean the grass can’t catch fire, it’ll melt and burn slowly, letting you gain control over the fire in case of a barbecue mishap.
Varying Color Blades
Grass usually has the same color and texture throughout the turf(s). Varying color blades result in a more realistic and natural look. It will appear like some portion is pretty dry, while some portion is healthy grass. It ensures a natural look as possible, so the varying color blades are attributes that many customers look for in artificial grass.
It is yet another feature that can lure a lot of customers. You don’t have to worry about the stains on your artificial grass due to animal waste, food dropped on the grass, etc. The non-staining grass makes sure that no stain makes it dirty that may make it unappealing.
So Which One Type of Artificial Grass Do I Choose?
There are so many options, types, and variations, it can be challenging to determine which is best suited for you. Let’s break down the steps you need in your decision:
- Let’s start with the material first. If you’re specifically looking for artificial grass for your yard, we highly recommend going for the polyethylene material. It’s durable, soft, and perfect for the outdoors.
- The next thing is to decide the length. Medium-length grass is highly preferred since it fits in almost every situation. You can play, walk, sit, and do pretty much anything on your lawn. Long grass is also another option to consider though.
- Let’s decide the color. The green color is the most preferred and highly demanded. Since you’re installing the grass in your yard, the green color will be a perfect choice.
- Finally, there are tons of attributes to look for in artificial grass. It’s totally up to you what unique qualities you want in your grass. Here’s a great choice that’s available in different sizes on Amazon.
Quick Maintenance Tips for Artificial Grass
While artificial grass doesn’t require much maintenance, it doesn’t mean it’s maintenance-free. It means you’re supposed to perform some actions as a part of regular maintenance. So what are those? This section will cover some quick, easy maintenance tips for your artificial lawn.
Tip #1: Brush your Grass Regularly
The approach to brushing your artificial grass is pretty different to brushing a carpet. Don’t be too harsh as if punishing your lawn. Brush lightly and be gentle to your grass, or else the layers could pull from the bottom. It’s advisable to brush your lawn weekly. However, brushing it twice a month isn’t an issue as well.
Tip #2: Remove Fallen Leaves
The quickest way to remove leaves from your lawn is to use a leaf blower. Dry leaves are very easy to remove, and you can consider removing them once every 2-3 days. Using a broom is also another good alternative.
Tip #3: Be Frugal with Watering your Artificial Lawn
Don’t use excessive water for cleaning the lawn. Although you must have installed a drainage system, it’ll still take some time for the water to get through the artificial grass layers. Sprinkling water in less amount will keep it cool during summers, allowing you to enjoy quality time and breathe some fresh air.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What do you put under artificial grass?
There are many different materials used as a base for artificial grass. For instance, a weed barrier to avoid vegetation growth under your grass is a wise idea. Next, when you’re preparing the base, you can choose any gravel, sand, class II road base, decomposed granite, etc.
Adding these materials is essential to ensure a strong foundation for your grass, which will hold the turfs firm.
How long will artificial grass last?
Based on the grass material, artificial grass can last up to 20 years. However, critics who’re against artificial grass claim they last no more than 8 to 10 years. It also depends on the way you use it. If you’re going to put weight on it every day, the weight will hinder longevity.
On the other hand, if you’re installing an artificial lawn primarily for enhancing your lawn’s appeal, it might last a little longer.
Why do you brush sand into artificial grass?
Sand gives weight to your grass. There’s a high chance that the turfs might become bouncy due to less weight. Sand eliminates this problem. Furthermore, adding sand also makes your lawn more natural. You’ll notice that most natural lawns have soil and sand. Though adding soil to your artificial lawn isn’t recommended due to several reasons. Sand isn’t capable of holding water, so watering your lawn won’t make it muddy.
In a nutshell, these are just the pros of brushing sand into artificial grass, and it’s not at all mandatory to do so.
The Last Word On Artificial Grass
You’ve learned the detailed procedure of installing an artificial lawn in your yard. We also discussed several grass options, some maintenance tips, and a few frequently asked questions that answer the most common queries arising in people’s minds.
Though artificial grass is a great way to have your lawn look immaculate, it still requires maintenance as would a natural grass yard.
Many golf enthusiasts keep a roll of artificial grass for use to practice putting. Simply unrolling the artificial grass and grabbing a putter and ball, you can easily set up your own tiny green to practice your game.
All said and done, artificial grass has its purposes and is a suitable replacement when natural grass cannot be utilized. Just remember that over time the artificial grass will break down and fade and will eventually require replacement.
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