When asked what people are looking for when it comes to tackling the landscape remodel, most people respond with low-maintenance and when it comes to ground cover, few things are as low maintenance as artificial turf. Advancements in turf tech have come a long way from the classic green carpet days, so today I’m gonna show you how you can install a beautiful artificial turf lawn at your home.
This one is pretty difficult because it’s a pretty labor-intensive installation and requires some specialty tools depending on your application. This is one of those rare instances where I’ll say that this isn’t really a pure DIY job, meaning that it’s not really something I recommend doing on your own. That’s not to say it can’t be done, as you’ll see, but at least having several people available to help you will make your life so much easier.
If your installation is over an existing lawn area, your first step will be to kill the existing lawn and remove as much of it as possible. If you have a solid base to work from and want to skip ahead over the next part, I’ll leave a timecode link down below to take you to the next steps. If you need to fill and grade the area like I do, I’ll show you how you can do that now.
One of the most important steps is making sure the area is graded properly and what that means is that it’s sloped properly for adequate drainage. In this case, I worked with my building transit to create a grading map of the area. The transit allows you to set a level point of reference so you can measure the elevation differences across your area to create a grading map.
Now that may sound a little bit complicated but once you get the hang of it, it’s really not that difficult. What you’re trying to do is figure out the elevation change from one point to another point, once you get used to it a few times it’s pretty easy to do. In this case, I want the highest elevation of the installation to be up against the house and slope towards the outer walls 1/4 inch per foot. So since this area is roughly 18 feet wide, I want the highest area by the house to be four and a half inches higher than the outer wall grade.
As I bring infill and compact it, I repeatedly check the grade to make sure that it is what I need it to be. Compaction is important because the loose soil or fill will settle over time. So compaction speeds up that process and will make sure the installation lasts for a very long time. Adding water throughout the process helps the soil or fill dirt settle and also helps keep the dust down.
You can rent both a vibratory plate like this one, which is good for vibrating about 4 inches deep of material or a jumping-jack like this one, which allows you to compact a little thicker base material and is good for around edges. If you are adding a lot of fill to an area, it’s a good idea to compact it in layers along the way until you get the elevation about a half-inch to three-quarters of an inch below where you want your final turf elevation to be.
Now this is where I made a mistake on my initial installation. As I reach my final grade, I should have used a fill material with a smaller aggregate like decomposed granite for the final four inches. An aggregate is basically the stone material that’s in your fill, so if you have small stone, you can compact it a lot easier. The road base that I used had larger rocks in it even though it was supposed to be small, so it didn’t compact super smooth when I rolled out the turf initially and I can feel all the little discrepancies. More on that later, but that’s why I’m saying that the preparation is the most important part of the installation.
Once you’ve established the proper grade and compacted the base, you can roll out the turf and cut it to the proper size using a utility knife or a turf cutting tool. Be sure to cut the turf slightly larger than the area that you’re installing in that way you can trim off any excess later on and ensure complete coverage. If your area is larger than the turf roll, you’ll need to seam the turf, which I’ll show you how to do shortly.
Getting the turf into the installation area, was a little tricky and where I definitely could have used an extra set of hands to move. So, once I had the piece cut and rolled out in the area, that’s when I realized my base preparation wasn’t going to work because I could feel all the little bumps and stones and stuff caused by the larger aggregate. So, what I ended up doing was scrape back a little bit of the fill and skreeted a thin layer of sand on top to create a very flat, nice, soft surface if I were to do it again I would use a decomposed granite base for the final few inches of fill.
Now to seam the pieces together I ripped another strip of the turf paying close attention to make sure that the fibers were oriented in the same direction and then aligned the edges along with the other piece. Once I made sure the pieces lined up properly, I used a few landscape spikes to hold the pieces in place and folded open the seam.
Next, I rolled out some turf seam tape and staked it in place along the length of the seam. Now I don’t recommend you buy these cheap landscapes staples off of Amazon unless you want to waste half of them by bending them. I’d recommend just buying 6-inch galvanized landscape spikes.
From there, you’ll want to apply a liberal amount of outdoor carpet adhesive to the tape and spread it evenly across the whole thing using a notched trowel. Let the glue set up for about 10 to 15 minutes and then slowly work your way down the seam connecting the two sides and securing the seam in place with landscape spikes. Pay careful attention to make sure that you get a tight seam between the two pieces.
Once you’ve let the glue set up, make your way around the perimeter of the installation area and use landscape spikes to secure the turf in place. If you notice any wrinkles or loose areas in your turf, you can use a carpet kicker like this one to help you get the turf nice and tight. You can use a variety of different tools to cut off the excess on the edges, but I had the best luck with just a regular sharp utility knife.
Work your way around the entire perimeter tightening, staking and cutting as you go. Take your time to carefully cut around any obstacles like trees, planter beds or drains like this one. Once you have the turf laid out and installed next, you’ll add the infill. Many people are familiar with the little rubber pellets you see in sporting applications, but for residential use, the most common infill is actually sand.
And finally, once the sand is installed, the final step for the installation is to use a stiff-bristled push broom or a turf rake to sweep the sand into the fibers and help them stand up. Make sure to work in the same direction across the turf to help create a uniform surface. From there, you can do any last-minute touch-ups around the edges or at the seams with a pair of scissors, which will be the last time you’ll ever have to cut this grass. And that’s it you are finished with this project.
So that’s it for this project I hope you guys enjoyed it and I hope you learned something new I know I did as this was my first time installing synthetic turf like this. As I mentioned earlier, it’s not a project that I recommend that you tackle as one person, but it’s definitely something you and a few friends can knock out in a weekend.
My family absolutely loves the way this space came together, and it’s such a comfortable and nice play area for my son. And I know a lot of you are going to ask about the heat it does get much hotter than normal grass in the direct Sun, but as we’re typically not spending a ton of time outside in the middle of the hot hot day it’s not a huge deal for us and it’s very comfortable in the mornings and in the late afternoons.
Post time: Aug-26-2021