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Cost of Artificial Grass Installation: 2021 Price Guide

The cost of an artificial grass installation is one of the most common questions we're asked. The answer isn’t always direct as we wish it could be! However, this article will help you better understand the breakdown of turf installations, and how contractors cut corners to advertise lower prices. 

In our guide below, we'll discuss the different factors affecting the cost of your installation. We'll cover materials, labor, and any other fees that you may see during the project. For the sake of this demonstration, we'll be plugging in numbers from a sample yard that is 500 sq. ft. with no borders or fences. If you are looking to get an idea of pricing for your specific project, request an estimate here in 2 minutes or less!

yard size*Please Note: Costs may differ depending on geographical location - These numbers reflect California pricing.

 Materials Labor Operations Overhead Profit

The above mentioned are the key factors considered when assigning a cost to artificial turf installation projects. Click on each to discover what they entail, and the consequences of cutting corners in that area. 

Materials

There are a number of supplies needed when beginning an artificial turf installation. This is where you'll see a large chunk of the cost stemming from. Below we'll walk through common materials used, and how much they typically cost. 

Artificial Grass

Synthetic grass is a fascinating blend of materials. The turf blades on the lawn are made to look and feel like real grass. A home or business owner can choose from many different styles, lengths, and colors that will complement their style. You can install pet turf, putting greens, and sports turf to name a few. For the sake of this guide, we'll be focusing on median-grade turf materials because they are the most popular.

Installers Cut Corners By:

  • Using Old Recycled Grass Materials - Causes visible seams.
  • Using Low-Quality Materials - Looks fake and too bright.

Typically, medium to high-quality artificial grass materials are priced from $1.87 to $3.73 per square foot. Remember this price may vary depending on location, manufacturer, and style.

When ordering artificial grass, take into consideration that there will be wasted material. Yards that are rectangle won't experience as much waste as yards that are curved. While most yards require 10-20% excess material, you may need a little more or less depending on the size and shape of your backyard.

For this pricing table, we'll figure in a 10% waste at $2.80 per sq. ft.: 

Total Material

500 sq. ft. +10% Waste 

550 sq. ft. 
Artificial Grass Cost

550 sq. ft. x $2.80/sq. ft.

$1,540.00 Subtotal
Cost After Taxes

$1,540.00 + 8% California Tax

$1,663.20 Total
Cost Per sq. ft.

$1,663.20  500 sq. ft.

$3.32/sq. ft.

Class II Road Base

Road base is a material that's made of crushed rocks of various sizes. This is installed as a base surface on artificial grass to provide stability for the installation. Once at least 2 in. of soil has been excavated from the area, road base can be applied. The pricing of road base will be different based on your location. 

Installers Cut Corners By: 

  • Removing Less Soil Saving In Hauling Costs - Weeds will grow back and poke through the turf.
For this exercise, we'll use the low end of the average: $.30/sq. ft (including taxes).
 
Class II Road Base Cost

500 sq. ft. x $.30/sq. ft.

$150 

Bender Boards

Bender boards are an important component of artificial turf because it helps separate turf from other types of landscaping like trees and shrubs. The brown board is a 20-foot long roll of polypropylene. The thick board can be obtained for $15.80. 

If there's a concrete or stone border around the perimeter of the space, bender boards aren't necessary. If you have a wooden or chain link fence, bender boards are still needed to provide stability. Often homes with existing landscaping already have bender boards installed separating the grass from their shrubs. It's important to assess your space to know how many rolls we'll need to order. 

Installers Cut Corners By: 

  • Not Using Bender Boards - The base will expand as temperatures change and the turf will detach around the edges causing nails to loosen. 
  • Using Wooden Stakes to Install - They'll dissolve within a year, resulting in bender boards falling apart.

In our example, our lawn has no borders so we'll need to install bender boards around the entire space. Refer to the price grid below for more details!

Perimeter 20ft. + 20ft. + 25ft. + 25ft. 90 ft.
Bender Board Rolls 90 20  4.5 Rolls (Round To 5)
Bender Board Cost 5 Rolls x 15.80/Roll $79 

Weed Barrier

Weed barrier fabric is used in most installations. It's a cloth-like fabric that lays under the surface of the artificial turf. It prevents seeds from penetrating the ground beneath. In our experience, weed barriers cause the build-up of bacteria under the surface over time so for this reason, we don't recommend it. When working with clients, we recommend using a weed preventer herbicide instead. However, we're adding weed barrier to our cost list because of how commonly used it is. Weed barrier fabric comes in rolls that are 1,500 sq. ft. for around $68. 

Because our sample yard is only 500 sq. ft. one roll will be more than enough!

Weed Barrier Fabric Cost $68.00 x 1 Roll $68

Securing & Adhesive

There are many small materials that customers don't remember to factor into the price of their project. Nails, glue, seaming tape, and stakes are just some of the additional materials needed for a secure installation. The price of these extra materials will fluctuate depending on the length of the perimeter. 

Installers Cut Corners By: 

  • Using Fewer Nails - Turf will begin to lift and detach over time.
  • Sloppy Quick Seaming - Causes visible seams that may rupture.

For a 500 sq. ft. project, we estimate that these additional materials will add up to be around $100.

Extra Materials $100 (Ballpark Estimate) $100

Infill

Infill comes in a variety of materials. Rub ber, silica sand, and flex sand are the most commonly used types. Because of such a large price range, many cut corners during this step. We recommend choosing the best infill that you can afford so you don't have to reapply it often. This will save you money down the road. A high-quality infill will provide your artificial grass with durability, wrinkle prevention, and a long life span. For pet owners and spaces with children playing, we recommend antibacterial sand infill to prevent bacteria and odor build-up.

Installers Cut Corners By: 

  • Using Cheap Infills - Provides less durability and won't withstand elements over time.

Per recommendation, we'll use antibacterial sand in our pricing table below. The cost for this is about $22 per bag after taxes, and weighs in at 50 pounds. Typically, you'll want at least 1-2 pounds of turf infill per square foot of space. We'll use the median of that: 1.5 pounds of infill per square foot.

Square Footage Covered Per Bag 50 1.5 lb. 33.33 sq. ft. 
 Infill Bags Needed 500 sq. ft. 33.33 15 Bags Of Infill
Cost of Infill 15 Bags x $22/Bag $330 

Cost of Combined Materials

Artificial Grass Materials (After Taxes) $1,663.20
Class II Road Base  $150
Bender Board Materials $79
Weed Barrier Fabric $68
Securing & Adhesive $100
Artificial Turf Infill  $330
TOTAL COST OF MATERIALS $2,390.20

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Labor

When it comes to the cost of labor, you absolutely get what you pay for. Many forget to factor this into their budget, but the hard labor and man-hours it takes to provide you with a quality installation will cause prices of artificial grass installation to rise above more than just material costs.

Crew

The more qualified a team is, the more they'll charge. Choosing a turf installation crew that has experience and knowledge of the process is vital in the longevity of the turf's life. 

Installers Cut Corners By: 

  • Installing Quickly and Sloppy - Mistakes are made when compacting, cutting, and seaming carelessly to save on labor costs.

You can always cut costs here, but your quality of work will suffer. If you don't pay for a good contractor, then you will end up with a subpar job that leaves you with costly repairs. For a solid installation, a qualified crew will charge between $3.13-5.06 per square foot for labor costs. We'll use the median of that for our pricing table below and plugin $4.09/sq. ft.

Crew Costs 500 sq. ft. x $4.09/sq. ft. $2,045

"Free" Estimates

Most companies advertise free estimates on their website. It's a way to keep them in line with the competition. These proposals are typically detailed presentations outlining materials needed and optional add-ons. While these are free to people just browsing, the time spent working on these estimates doesn't come without a cost.

Preparing an estimate and driving to an appointment will cost around $75 give or take depending on location and traffic. Before signing larger accounts, it can take up to 5 visits to the worksite to close a deal. This can rack up nearly $400 in additional costs for just one project, and sometimes these projects are never signed. Every time you hear "free estimate" just know that they're not free to the clients actually moving forward with the installation, and they're factoring that time into the overall price.

At InstallArtificial, we don't think it's fair to make our customers pay for other people's appointments. We ensure that the budget is clear and outlined for each customer in our proposals and that they're comfortable with the price range before we make visits to homes or businesses to pass our savings to you.

For our pricing table, we'll stay on the low end and add $75 to account for "free" estimates.

Cost of "Free" Estimates $75 (Ballpark Estimate) $75

Combined Labor Costs

Crew Costs $2,045
Cost of "Free" Estimates $75
TOTAL LABOR COSTS $2,120

Operations

Operational fees are another hidden cost that they don't tell you about. This refers to any costs that are added from transporting materials to and from the worksite. While most companies won't lay these fees out for you, they're built into the final proposal. Keep reading to learn what operational costs entail, and how much it affects the overall pricing of your artificial grass installation.

Cost of Fuel

The cost of fuel will vary greatly depending on your geographic location. The crew coming to and from the job site in their vehicles will also raise fueling costs. Projects that take longer, will naturally rack up more fuel costs. Because of this, it's nearly impossible to give an average cost of fuel for turf projects. For the sake of our price guide, we'll use $260.

Cost of Fuel $260 (Ballpark Estimate) $260

Delivery Fees

Delivery of materials typically isn't free, so it's another thing that's factored into the final bill. Depending on where you live, delivery costs can range greatly. Also, the cost will vary depending on the manufacturer you use. During installation, there will be artificial grass materials and road base that will be delivered to the residence. On top of the cost of delivery, the crew must also unload the heavy material. 

This typically ranges from $360-$650 per trip, depending on the above-mentioned factors. For our example, we'll use the low end of those fees at $360.

Delivery Fees $360 (Ballpark Estimate) $360

Hauling Costs

When the crew removes 2 inches of soil from the surface, it must then be hauled away. The price of hauling will vary depending on how many truckloads of removed grass and soil there is. Hauling a container of waste typically costs around $248. For a 500 sq. ft. lawn, we'd only need to haul one truckload

Hauling Costs $248 x 1 Truckload $248

Cost of Combined Operational Fees

Cost of Fuel $260
Delivery Fees $360
Hauling Costs $248
TOTAL OPERATIONAL FEES $868

Overhead

Any reliable company will have a boatload of overhead costs. While this may result in the price of your project rising, it's worth the extra money to ensure the installation runs smoothly. If the company you choose doesn't provide their own insurance, for example, you as a homeowner may be responsible for any injuries on the job site. Overhead costs include but are not limited to:

General Liability Insurance                Workers Compensation Programs

Payroll Expenses                                  Accounting Fees

Taxes                                                    Licensing Fees

Auto Expenses                                    Admin Staffing Fees

It's hard to identify exactly how much is tacked onto prices stemming from overhead costs. However, as you can see there are many behind the scene fees that are protecting both the installation company and you as a home or business owner.

On the low end, a turf company's overhead can add 10% to your project total. We'll use the total price we've accumulated so far to calculate the overhead costs below.

TOTAL OVERHEAD COSTS $5,378.20 x  10% $537.82

Profit

Bottom line is to stay in business, turf companies must make a profit. To continue to grow and develop crews they must make money at the end of the day. A lot of landscaping and artificial grass installation companies struggle to make a profit after all the above expenses.

Turf companys' profit margins usually sit at around 10% but they can range up to 40%. Since we've stayed on the low end during this entire exercise, we'll plug in 10% in our price guide below.

TOTAL PROFIT $5,378.20 + 10% Margin $537.82

Wrap Up

During the entirety of this pricing guide we've used low to median averages, so keep that in mind when assessing overall price. This is just a starting point, there may be other needs that are specific to your project such as rewiring irrigation lines, or adding borders to any trees throughout the yard. Additional material add-ons will affect pricing as well. Optional installation additions may include: pet-friendly turf materials, putting greens, aluminum bender boards, padding systems, and drainage systems. 

Below we'll wrap up our findings, and discover the low-median cost of a simple 500 sq. ft. backyard installation!

Material Costs $2,390.20
Labor Costs $2,120
Operational Fees $868
Overhead Costs (10%) $537.82
Profit (10%) $537.92
TOTAL ARTIFICIAL INSTALLATION COST (LOW END) $6,453.84

If you're seeing cheap prices, there's no magic happening. They're skimping on either materials or expertise. Some companies outsource your projects to crews that they don't even supervise. Before opting for the cheaper installation, reference this pricing guide and discuss the specs of your project with the crew to ensure they're qualified and insured. Anyone offering a lower price than this is more than likely cutting corners somewhere. As always, give us a call for any questions related to your specific project or request an estimate below to get started! 

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