When we showed up this lawn was in distress. Likely due to watering restrictions imposed on Southern California home owners due to drought conditions. This home owner has grew tired of watering, mowing, fertilizing, weeding, aerating, resodding, and all that comes along with maintaining a “natural” grass lawn. Brown spots or uneven grass can really drag down the curb appeal of the entire house.
Installing Synthetic Grass Step by Step
Artificial Turf installation is an involved process we recommend having your artificial lawn professionally installed. The outcome of your artificial turf installation greatly depends on the turf product being installed to conform to the exacting specifications of base, correct product choice for a particular application, infill, seaming materials and work performed by skilled craftsmen who specialize in the trade of installing artificial grass products. That being said many people have had success installing their own synthetic grass lawn.
Step 1. Excavation & Base Preparation
First, we begin by using a sod cutter. We set the blade to cut approximately four inches down, which should remove all or most of the existing grass and its roots. Depending on the landscape we sometimes use a roto-tiller, Bobcat, pick, shovel, or whatever is necessary for the particular situation.
After it’s cut, we roll the sod up and put it in our dump truck or trailer.
Next, we excavate four to five inches down into whatever the existing area is comprised of such as dirt or grass. Now that the sod is all gone we spray a concentrated weed killer, cap any irrigation heads that were not caped before we began to remove the sod, and grade the subsurface for proper drainage. We then dump and spread the appropriate type of aggregate which can be a mixture of different types of foundation rock to build the proper base. Water drains through this aggregate base much better than through natural soil.
We use a mixture of big rock and decomposed granite in areas that require more dramatic grading or filling. The big rock goes down first, is compacted to approximately 90% compaction, then the smaller decomposed granite goes on top and fills in the crevices in the big rock layer to form a matrix which is very solid and allows for exceptional drainage.
Typically, artificial grass lawn installation involves capping any existing sprinkler heads, which is the beginning of big water bill savings for you. Sometimes we actually leave the sprinkler system in tact if there are large dogs in the area, to help against pet odors.
We compact and grade the aggregate to exacting specifications so the artificial turf will have the necessary grade and your lawn or putting green will be perfectly smooth. We then begin the artificial turf preparation.
The primary layer of rock is now applied. This is a 3/4″ crushed rock. Some lawns are landscaped with this rock instead of grass or artificial grass. We compact this layer of rock and start to shape the primary look of the turf surface.
Now we apply the second layer of rock which is decomposed granite (D.G.) and smooth it over the surface of the larger rock underneath. Decomposed granite is a very fine rock (3/4″ minus) that almost looks like dirt. This small rock fills in the crevices of the larger rock under it and when compacted they form a matrix that is very solid and drains very well. We start to fine-tune what the surface of the artificial grass will look like.
This decomposed granite layer is meticulously smoothed and then this layer is also compacted.
Step 2. Rolling Out & Cutting the Turf
Artificial grass is rolled out and cut to the lengths needed to fit each corresponding portion of the lawn.
The synthetic turf is unrolled and we broom the synthetic grass fibers up to create a more natural multi-directional appearance and prepare the fake grass fibers for the infill (if necessary) to be worked down to the bottom of the turf fibers.
Step 3. Setting the Seams
Each piece of the artificial turf is placed on the lawn and lined-up in preparation for seams (which are invisible if the installers know what they’re doing).
The synthetic grass is then placed where it will stay and seams are made where necessary. Seams are made by placing a mylar film down and spreading glue on it. Seams are invisible if done properly and will hold up to the test of time and elements.
Edges of the artificial grass are secured by six to seven-inch spikes about four to six inches around the perimeter and sporadically in the interior lawn area. We then shape around trees, rocks and borders before stretching and securing the artificial turf to its final resting place. Edges are vacuumed ahead of the sand going into the turf in order to remove any loose artificial grass fibers that are floating around as a result of cutting in the edges of the turf.
Step 4. Infill & Power Brooming
Artificial grass requires infill. Infill material can be a variety of different things depending on the application of the turf. In this case, the infill used is play sand. Sand is spread using a drop spreader to ensure its smooth and even.
Sand infill is now broomed in using a stiff bristle broom or a power broom. Sand is worked down deep into the artificial grass so it is not seen or felt. This is in place to protect the artificial grass backing from ultraviolet rays, weigh the turf down, and to keep the fibers standing straight up. You can see in the photo that he is working from right to left and the turf is starting to stand up where he has done just one pass with the sand and broom. The artificial turf starts to “come to life” now. Shine goes away as the turf stands up and it looks just like the real thing.
Artificial turf installation makes quite a mess and we now do some of the final clean up.
The finished product is a beautiful, low maintenance, artificial grass lawn.
And when we’re finished with the installation, all you have to do is enjoy the California weather and your beautiful synthetic grass lawn.
While a synthetic lawn doesn’t require routine maintenance you will need to clean it periodically to maintain its appearance. Depending on how your lawn is used and whether or not you have a pet, you may need to wash your lawn more or less often.