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How to Install Artificial Grass

Replacing real grass with artificial is a simple way to cut costs and conserve water, but how is artificial grass installed? What should you expect from the homeowner's point of view? Below we will walk you through different installation best practices to ensure a quality job is completed.
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Safety First

Safety protocol is top of mind before beginning any artificial turf project. Once the crew arrives, they will first line the perimeter with cones and ensure safety for people and vehicles on the street. The crew will also protect the surfaces such as concrete, walls, and fences. Only then, the work begins. 

artificial grass installation safety priority

Testing Irrigation

Before artificial grass installation starts, the first step is to check for any underground hazards. It is very important to make sure that after artificial grass is installed every single planter has a water supply. Failing to do so will result in many expensive repairs. Any unwanted sprinkler heads will be located and either capped or removed. When checking irrigation, it's always best to cut any existing lines. However, if the line is feeding nearby planters they may need to be left in place. There may be certain situations where we only partially cut the line or go in for reinstall. Additional charges may apply. To be fully transparent, we clearly and precisely lay out additional fees within our estimates.

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Preparing the Base

Base preparation for artificial grass install

Installing a base surface for artificial turf is a vital step that will determine the quality of your artificial grass. We will remove the grass and roots and then smoothly grade the surface to set us up for a seamless installation. For the best results and maintenance, we recommend a weed preventer application. This will not eliminate weeds entirely but will reduce the probability of growth. 

During the soil removal process, we cut 2 to 3 inches of grass and soil with a sod cutter. After the soil removal, debris is removed and hauled away. It is important to cut the sod instead of damaging the surface because it will leave the lawn looking smooth and clean. If you dig instead of cut, the finished fake grass surface will become bumpy over time. Any incline in the excess of 3 or more steps will require a ramp to be installed for more efficient hauling. Due to increased workload, this will affect pricing

Electrical: We plan ahead when it comes to irrigation and electrical. Our main objective is to create an area that is high functioning at any time of the day. We highly recommend placing conduits and low voltage lighting to enhance your space. This will also substantially extend the time you can spend in your backyard by creating enough lighting.

Gopher Mesh Installation: Once the surface has been cleared, another suggested add-on is the installation of gopher wire. While this step is optional, it is recommended to protect the area. Hillside areas are full of gophers. This process includes laying wire down on the surface of the space but also the sides to create a "cage" with no exposed dirt that gophers can crawl through.

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Compacting the Base

After soil removal, we begin the compaction process. In some cases, you may put a thin layer of decomposed granite to ensure the surface is perfectly smooth. Thought, dg alone, is not the best base material for artificial grass. We use only a class II road base that is recommended by manufacturers and only then put a thin layer of decomposed granite.

Benefits of using Road Base Material as opposed to sand or decomposed granite:

  • Decomposed Granite is a fine substance that will allow nails to detach over time 
  • Decomposed Granite can easily be washed away by rain and other elements
  • Road Base is a much stronger and solid material that will fuse together to maintain the integrity of the installation 

When is Decomposed Granite a Viable Solution? 

The only instance we recommend decomposed granite if it is fairly difficult to access the area. In this situation, the crew builds a frame and adds a membrane for support. The turf is then stapled to the frame eliminating the use of nails.  Also, for DIY applications decomposed granite is easier to work with. In this case, you must purchase and apply a stabilizer to ensure the base is solid.

Pet Turf Base Preparation

When a customer opts into the pet-friendly turf system, a layer of drain core is installed on top of a thin layer of turf deodorizer to help prevent bacteria growth underneath the artificial grass. This will help to control lingering urine smell. When wet, the deodorizer releases a cleaning substance and is excellent for the occasional pet use, and is often recommended for front yards. The use of antibacterial sand in our pet-friendly turf restrains the growth of bacteria, achieving a cleaner and cooler pet turf surface.

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Turf Placement

artificial grass installation cutting and seaming

Now that the base is smoothly graded and compacted, the surface is ready for artificial turf installation. We leave the artificial grass rolls out in the sun before cutting, giving it time to adapt to its environment. Once measured and cut to size, the artificial pieces are aligned to prepare for seaming. With the use of professional adhesive, the grass is glued together and prepared for stretching. The crew is equipped with professional stretchers to maximize efficiency. After trimming the edges we lay nails throughout the entire surface every 2 feet, and every 2 inches on the perimeter to reduce stress on the turf caused by temperature fluctuations. The crew will double-check all nails for full contact before moving on.  

For children and ultimate pet-friendly turf installation, a frame should be installed around the perimeter and the artificial grass will be stapled to the frame. For commercial projects, we must recommend a nail-free installation to keep all occupants safe when  not supervised. 
Bender boards are installed to separate artificial turf from planters in areas with a curved landscape, while treated wood boards are used in landscape areas with straight lines. Treated wood is chemically treated to maintain its integrity in the soil. Through upgrading to our Aluminum Bender Boards, we can achieve a more precise artificial grass installation with prevented color erosion.
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Sand Infill

Once installation is complete, a sand infill will be applied to the artificial turf area. Most manufacturers recommend a heavy layer of sand infill. However, to provide a natural look we recommend laying between1/4 - 1/2 inch of sand. The sand infill is necessary to prevent wrinkles, but it can attract heat so we keep our applications light. We have created an entire section discussing best practices to achieve the coolest temperatures year-round for your artificial grass.

Artificial grass installation applying sand infill

Brushing and Clean-Up

From the beginning to the end of the artificial grass project, we take care of everything! After the safety inspection and sand infill application is complete, we brush and clean the lawn entirely. You get a brand new lawn ready to roll!

artificial grass installation brushing turf


For light artificial grass cleaning, we recommend using a leaf blower or stiff-bristled broom and then rinsing with water. For even better results, use a pressure washer. When power washing your turf, keep the nozzle at least 1 ft away from your artificial grass. As a best practice, we suggest using a sanitizer. For pet-friendly artificial grass areas, we recommend a more in-depth cleaning process that you can read more about in the Pet-Friendly Turf category. 
And there you have it! A guide to the installation steps when opting for artificial grass in your backyard. We recommend going with an experienced and efficient crew for the best results. To have peace of mind working with InstallArtificial, request a free estimate below!
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