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Consequences of a $4.99 Turf Install

Learn how cheap contractors are offering turf installation at $4.99 per sq. ft. Discover what you're really getting at this cost. Below we’ll walk you through how they achieve those prices, while also listing the consequences of cutting corners.

What does it take to install turf for $4.99 per sq. ft.? According to manufacturer recommendations - We can't do this. However, there are ways to attain this rate and save some money. But at what cost? A poorly installed project will look good initially, but after a year or two will begin to fall apart costing you more money. So, what do these cheap installers have to do to fit a tight budget?

Scratch the Surface

The first way to cut costs is to not remove the soil fully. When doing this, installers only scratch the surface of the grass leaving the roots in the ground. This allows installers to remove only the lightweight material, saving hundreds of dollars in hauling costs. By only scratching the top of the surface and covering it with the weed barrier, they achieve an installation that looks good now but won’t survive long term. After a couple of years, those roots will penetrate the weed barrier and infect the area. At this point, the warranty will have expired for the client. The only way to fix this is to completely reinstall - the right way.  

Use Refurbished Material

Some installers avoid manufacturer recommendations to apply two to three inches of road base material over the compacted surface. Instead, they apply a very little amount or use refurbished material. This easily saves at least $1,000. It will be hidden underneath the grass so most clients don't even notice that there is not enough road base applied. It may produce a beautiful lawn initially, but after a few years or a few rain showers the nails may start to detach from the surface and the surface will begin to appear bumpy. However, it will do the job for now and the installer will get their money.

Fewer Nails & Visible Seams

Another way to save time and material is during the seaming and securing process. Nailing artificial grass down costs a lot of money and is labor-intensive. We recommend applying nails every 2-3 inches on the perimeter and every two feet throughout the surface. Installers can save approximately $200-$400 per 1000 sq. ft. by using fewer nails. They will only secure the perimeter, and only apply nails every 6 inches instead. With temperature fluctuation, the turf will contract and possibly detach from those nails causing the turf to bubble up and/or come loose. The same goes with the seams. Straight sloppy seams are visible and fall apart easily.

visible seams defect in cheap front yard artificial grass installation project

Eliminate Bender Boards

By not installing bender boards to separate the turf from planters or fences, installers are saving themselves hours of labor and hundreds of dollars on labor costs.  But without these, there will be nothing to hold the base around the perimeter resulting in the turf detaching quickly. Some will also save on stakes by using wooden stakes instead of plastic. Plastic stakes cost 10x the amount of wooden stakes. The issue with wooden stakes is that they’ll dissolve within the year, but will appear perfectly fine initially.

I’m sure you have noticed a trend. All of these ways to cut costs provide a beautiful lawn in the beginning. Over time, the cheap work starts to show and it’s usually not long after installation. The people offering these low prices don’t care because they’re getting paid. Think of this article as a checklist on what not to do. Following manufacturer specifications is key to building a safe and long-lasting artificial grass surface. You’re spending your hard-earned money on this project, so let us install it right so it lasts for years! Request an estimate today.

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