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How to Install Artificial Grass on Dirt Surfaces

Updated: Mar 18, 2022

Once you’ve put together your materials, it’s time to start the lawn remodel and DIY your artificial grass installation. Follow the steps below for an artificial lawn that you can sit back and admire for years to come.

Step 1: Check for Underground Hazards and Measure the Area

Prior to measuring the area, you should pinpoint any sprinklers, water pipes, and electric lines that may be under the surface of your desired installation area. In most cases, you can simply cover sprinklers at the pipe level or remove them if they are no longer needed. If you need to keep existing sprinklers to water other parts of the yard, be sure to mark the location to avoid uneven surfaces and damage to the sprinklers when you lay down the turf.

Next, add drainage pipes (optional) for easy water clear out and protect any electrical wires by moving them away from the perimeter of the area by six to eight inches — this will make sure they won’t be damaged when you secure the turf edges with landscaping pins.

After you’ve completed your pre-installation prep and checked for any underground hazards your next step is to take down the proper measurements. Measure out the length and width of the area you want to cover with turf, while considering any joins or odd shapes you may need to cut turf for.

As most artificial grass comes in rolls, measuring the space you’re looking to cover will help you calculate how many rolls you’ll need as well as the amount of joining tape and glue you’ll need to purchase.

Step 2: Remove the Current Surface

Removing the current surface includes everything from pulling up weeds and existing grass to removing rocks and other debris that could inhibit a flat surface for your new lawn. If weeds are a pesky problem, we recommend spraying a weed killer (the all natural environmentally safe kind) two to three weeks in advance of the removal since these can take some time to take effect.

Once you’ve done that, the next step is to remove the top level of soil — for most yards this means removing the top 3-4 inches of soil to make room for your new base.

Step 3: Install a Bender Board (Optional)

For a little help getting a clean line to separate the artificial grass from other components of your yard, you can install a bender board. While not necessary, bender boards can help you map out the perimeter and give a clean and polished look.

Step 4: Compact the Ground

Prior to putting down a base layer, you’ll want to compact the existing soil to create an even layer–around 95% compaction. A vibrating plate, roller, or other flat compacting object is best to ensure a smooth surface.

Step 5: Install a Weed Barrier

Even if you sprayed a weed killer upon removing the pre-existing surface, it’s a good idea to lay down a geotextile weed barrier layer (also called landscape fabric), especially if your yard is prone to weeds. This will help prevent any weeds from sprouting up through your artificial grass later on and protect your investment.

Step 6: Lay Your Base

Having a base layer that allows for proper drainage is one of the single most important steps in the process of laying down artificial grass. In most climates, a 3-4 inch layer of stone, gravel or ¾” construction grade crushed rock will allow for excess water to easily pass through.

Step 7: Water the Base

After you’ve compacted the ground and laid down your base layer, use a hose to water the base layer and further compact it. Be careful not to overwater as this can also wash away your base layer or cause slumping.

Step 8: Seam Your Turf Pieces Together

Once you’ve prepared and finalized your base layer, it’s time to attach the artificial grass. Roll out your artificial grass at least 2-3 hours prior to installation (if not overnight) to allow it to acclimate and settle so there aren’t any creases. Be careful not to don’t drag the grass over the base or you might ruin the smooth surface

Lay out artificial grass onto your base layer and position where needed. As artificial grass has a pattern, place it so all the blades of grass are facing the same direction for the most natural look.

Fix any pieces that need to be connected by joining them together with quality outdoor tape or turf glue, by following the specific instructions on the products. Typically this is done by applying tape lengthwise to the bottom side of turf, lining up the turf edges to match the lines on the seaming tape. Apply pressure to the seams by placing heavy objects like plant pots, stones or other heavy materials on top to solidify the adhesive. We recommend that you utilize S shaped seams as opposed to straight seams in order to hide them. Seams are almost always going to be inevitable so any tips or tricks to hide them as best as possible is what you will want to do.

Step 9: Trim Where Necessary

After the adhesive has settled, cut and trim the grass using a carpet knife or razor knife to remove excess turf and fit it to the desired area (doing so on the backside).

Step 10: Pin the Grass with Landscaping Pins (Optional)

Pin down the turf with ground pins every 6–8 inches around the perimeter of the turf. You can also place pins along the seam to secure the turf further. Hammer them down flat being careful to not hammer excessively and cause dips in your new turf lawn.

Step 11: Brush Up Your Grass

For a final touch use a broom to brush up the fibers of the grass (against the grain) to fluff them up and help them appear more natural.

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