How to install Artificial Grass
Thinking about starting your next landscaping project? Have you ever considered removing your boring, yellow grass? Artificial grass not only looks great, it can save you money and free up your schedule. Don’t waste any more time mowing the lawn day after day - throw out your lawn mower and start installing artificial grass. If you’ve got the handyman skills, we’ll show you how easy you can do it yourself:
Step 1: Measure and plan
Just like any new project you’re going to need a plan. To start off this project the first thing we’ll need to do is calculate the total square footage of your project area as well as select the artificial grass we’re going to use.
There are too many artificial grasses to fill in this article, but if you spend a little time looking, you’re guaranteed to find one that matches your local grass aesthetics. If you’re not sure where to look, you can call your local landscape centre to find out if they carry them, or have any idea where you can start looking. If you’d like to do a bit of quick research without driving to the store, you can also check out Bella Turf’s website, a popular Canadian artificial grass supplier.
Once you’ve figured out what the dimensions are for your new artificial grass project, you’ll need prepare a turf plan for your yard. While you’re designing your turn plan, remember that the artificial grass rolls come in 15’ widths. Make sure that the turf grain is going in the same direction or else your artificial grass won’t look right when your project is finished.
Step 2: Tear out
During this step we’ll want to remove the existing sod from your yard and dig down approximately 4 to 6 inches so we have some room for our base. If you’re like me and don’t want to put in the back breaking work to get the project down, I’d recommend you rent a sod cutter for the job. If you’re located around a Home Depot, you can normally rent a decent sod cutter for under $100 an hour.
So you’ve got your sod cutter and you’re ready to start cutting - but wait! Do you have a plan on what you’re going to do with the sod once it’s removed? Make sure you have some sort of truck that can help you take it to a disposal area. If you’re not sure where to dispose it, in Calgary we can take it to the local landfill, although you will get charged for disposing of it.
Anyways, now that you’ve got a plan in place for disposing the sod, it’s time to start removing the sod from the ground. The best strategy to make sod removal as easy as possible is to start on the outside edge of your area and move inward in a spiral like pattern. Next, you’ll want to change directions and start cutting the grass in a criss-cross fashion. Using this omni-directional cutting strategy will make the removal of your sod as easy as possible.
So you’re finally done cutting the top layer, “what’s next?” you asked? Now you’ll need to evenly remove the aforementioned 4 to 6 inches of sod and soil from your yard. Since you already know I hate hard work, the best way to get through this process quickly is to use a walk-behind tractor. Of course this is going to cost you a little bit of money as well, but there is nothing like a bit of raw power to help you cut corners and spend more time watching HGTV.
So once the sod is removed and everything appears to be level, simply rake the existing base as evenly as possible and proceed on to step #3.
Step 3: Base Construction
Now that you’ve got your base material waiting and ready to go, you’ll want to spread it evenly on the area that you had prepared in the last step. The best strategy to getting the base as evenly as possible is to first bring it in load by load with a wheelbarrow. With your first load of base material, dump it at the farthest point of your project area and work backwards, raking it evenly as you go. When you’re done spreading and raking the base material, use a hose and water it thoroughly to allow it to settle while we compact it.
To really pack down the base material, use a plate compactor in the same direction that you had used the sod cutter previously. Start from the outer edges and go in a spiral, then change direction and go criss-cross to evenly pack down the area. There will be areas that the plate compactor can’t reach, in these areas it’s easiest to use either a plate tamper or a 2x4 and a hammer.
When you’re done packing the base material down, you’ll want to look over the entire area for imperfections that need to be either filled or flattened. To fill in any imperfections, simply bring in more base material and cover the area. For any high areas that need to be flattened, just use your rake to level out the area. When you’re done fixing any imperfections, finish the job by going over it with the plate compactor again.
Step 4: Preparation
We’re almost ready to start installing your brand new artificial grass! Are you excited? I sure am! In this phase you’ll need to go back to your original turf plan drawing. You’ll need to make sure you measure and mark exactly where your artificial turf is going to lay from each direction. This will allow you to set it down in the exact spot that it will be laying in. It’s important that we do this step before laying down your artificial grass since moving the turf after it has been laid can upset the base construction we compacted earlier.
Step 5: Rolling out the Turf
Now the fun begins! We get to start working with your brand new artificial grass. To get started you’ll need to find a level surface that you can roll out your turf. Once the grass is rolled out you’ll want to measure the area you’re going to lay and cut a mark in the grass for reference on both sides. Once you’ve finished measuring and cutting the grass, roll the turf back up so the back of the turf and cuts are facing upwards on the roll. Using a chalk line, snap a straight line between the two previous cuts you had made. Now, with a sharp knife, cut the turf following the chalk line as closely as possible.
Next you’ll want to flip over your artificial grass and look for the edging material on the roll. You’ll need to remove the extra edging by cutting between the first and second tuft. To make this easier, keep tension on the loose piece as you cut.
Once you’re done cutting it’s time to roll up your turf and lay it on the yard. Like I mentioned before, make sure you roll out your turf on the correct spot of the area. If you need to make some minor adjustments you can lightly shake the turf edges to push some air underneath it. This will allow you to move the turf more easily and put less pressure on the base.
Step 6: Cut around Objects
So your new artificial grass is in and looking great, it just needs some cuts and touch ups to make it look perfect. Depending upon what you’re cutting around you have to strategies to stick to:
- If you’re cutting around a sidewalk, patio or similar objects, you’ll want to pull back on the piece you’re cutting to allow you see where you’re cutting.
- If you’re cutting around a tree or other object in your turf plan, you’ll want to make sure you give yourself a big relief cut to allow the turf to sufficient space to bend around the object. The goal here is to make sure your first straight cut meets back up with itself behind the object. Cutting around the object, you’ll want to make sure your relief cuts are close enough together that the turf is still able to lay flat on the ground and the flaps are able to go up the object you’re cutting around. Once everything is looking perfect, cut off any of the flaps.
Finally, if you need to remove any additional turf, make sure you cut the turf back little by little so you don’t cut it deeper than necessary.
Step 7: Seaming the Turf
So your yard looks amazing, the grass is in and you’re ready put it all together. Starting this phase you’ll want to make sure both of the turf edges are as flush as possible. When you’re happy with how it looks, grab the edges on both sides of the seam and bend them apart. Now take both edges and lay down small sections at a time while paying attention to any places where the edges overlap. If you find any places that over lap and need to cut some turf away, cut the piece that you just laid down leaving the edge of the piece alone. It’s best to check your seams every couple of inches and work your way down the entire seam. To prevent your seams from being visible, make sure any gaps between your pieces are under 1/8”.
Next you’ll cut a piece of seam tape the length of the turf and lay it down centred underneath the two folds of the turf edges. Spike the seam tape from both edges to make sure that the tape doesn’t move when applying the turf adhesive.
Once your seam tape is secured you’ll want to start applying the turf adhesive. Pour the adhesive on the seam tape and spread it evenly across its entire surface area. Before adhering the turf edges to the seam tape, you’ll want to make sure you have some help. Since you’ll need to apply the turf edges closely starting from one side, you want to make sure the opposite side doesn’t prematurely fall onto the adhesive glueing itself down for good. During this stage, have someone hold the turf edges apart from the opposite side of where you’re working. One thing to look out for while you’re adhering the turf is that you keep the fibres completely away from the glue.
Once you’re finished laying down the turf, go back across the seam and rub it with a lot of pressure on both sides. Rubbing the seam will make sure the glue is completely stuck down on both surfaces. Next you’ll want to spike the turf on both sides of the seam as close as you cant to the edge every few inches. Make sure you continuously separate the fibres from the nail as you hammer it in place.
Step 8: Infill and Broom
The final step to perfect your grass - you’ve almost made your way to 20 years of maintenance free life! Depending on what you want to use, you can either use a stiff bristle push broom (hard) or a power brush (easy!):
- Stiff Bristle Push Broom: If you’re looking to put in a lot more effort than you need to, this is the choice for you! To infill your grass with the push broom you’ll need to first need to push up the grass fibres to allow the sand to drop in. Once you’ve gone over an area, use a flat head shovel to evenly distribute the sand in a back-dragging motion. As a rule of thumb, you’ll want approximately 2.5 lbs of infill per square foot of turf. Once you’ve filled enough sand, go over the turf with your brush until the sand completely drops into the thatch.
- Power Broom: If you’re planning on using a power broom you’ve made the right choice. Since you hate doing extra work, like me, we can skip the first step of separating the fibres. The first thing you’ll need to do is lay out 2.5 lbs of infill per square foot of turf. Once you’ve laid out the sand, it’s time to use the power broom separate the fibres and help the infill fall into the thatch. Using the power broom, start at the edge of your yard where the fibres are facing away from the fence, hold the throttle and push the power broom firmly into the turf while walking backwards steadily in a straight line. Your best bet for a perfect job is to work slowly and overlap all of the lines so the sand drops evenly into the thatch of the turf.
Once you’ve finished your infill, look over your lawn for any high and low spots on the surface. Fill any of the low spots with infill and simply push the high spots out with the broom. Once you’ve topped up your infill, go over your yard with the broom of your choice one last time. If you have any extra material left over simply remove it with a leaf blower.
Step 9: Enjoy
You’re done! It’s time to crack open a cold beverage, bring out the lawn chairs and enjoy your amazing and flawless artificial grass lawn. Take it from me though, don’t let your neighbours over or they’ll never leave.
We hope you find this article as much fun as we did writing it. If you’re not up to the challenge of installing your own artificial grass and you happen to live in the Calgary area, give Precision Greens Calgary a call and we’ll help you through the process!
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