When I looked for guides on Installing DIY Artificial Grass, I couldn’t find a definitive step-by guide. Questions I had, such as; How much astroturf costs, what materials you need to install fake grass yourself, and How difficult (or easy) it is to Install yourself, weren’t addressed.
So, I wrote my guide based on my experience, and this summary from Reddit concurs, that Installing artificial turf DIY is a simple (albeit “dirty”) job that most homeowners can afford – and should be able to install themselves (OK, a few friends wouldn’t hurt to have around either 🙂
If you want to install artificial turf, you are not alone. With recent water shortage concerns and the cost of maintaining a real grass lawn, many people are switching from natural to artificial grass.
This is especially true in regions where fake grass is more cost-effective than maintaining natural grass (South, Southwest U.S.). Today, we answer your questions and guide you through the process of installing Artificial Turf yourself.
What is Artificial Grass?
Artificial Grass (or Turf ) consists of excellent “Grass blades” woven into a carpet-like material. The grass blades are a plastic filament usually made from nylon or synthetic polymer, applied to a heavy-duty “perforated” rubber mat (much like carpeting).
How To Install Artificial Grass
Installing artificial grass first includes a subsurface drainage medium (like sand or gravel) installed and then leveled directly before installing the artificial grass.
When water lands on fake grass, it passes through the filaments and matting, quickly draining through this base medium and into the ground soil. This process also prevents water or pet urine from pooling on the artificial turf.
If you’ve decided that an artificial lawn is a perfect choice for you, but the price seems a bit high, there’s an easy way to bring that cost down: It’s called the Astro Turf DIY (Do it Yourself) Method, and here are the Seven Steps to install artificial grass:
Before you start, Watch This Video – “How to Install Synthetic Turf.”
Step 1: Order The Supplies for Artificial Turf Installation:
- First, measure and determine the total square footage of the Artificial Lawn you will install.
- Before your turf lawn base material is installed, prepare all the materials for the complete installation. This will give you the fastest installation possible for you and your crew.
The materials you will need for this project are:
- Crushed Miscellaneous Base (CMB) or Decomposed Granite (DG) (2-3″ deep)
- Artificial Turf (sold online at SGW – or Ewing Landscape Supply and at your local big-box home improvement store)
- Carpet Seam tape (for all joints)
- Adhesive and Large Caulk Gun
- Spray water bottle (to activate carpet tape adhesive)
- Hammer & Nails
- Tape measure
- Infill material
- Power broom or synthetic turf rake
Step 2: Install Base Layer
- Before installing your lawn, you must establish what base layer (medium) you will install under the artificial turf.
- Typically, you’ll install 2-3 inches of “landscaping decomposed granite.”
- While there’s some debate about the best base (medium) for artificial grass, this fine, chipped granite usually delivers the best drainage at a reasonable cost while being relatively easy to put in.
- Be sure to compact and level the granite medium since it must be level when you install the actual turf. Hint: Rent a dirt compactor. You don’t want any valleys, holes, or pits – and remove any stones.
Step 3: Sketch Layout Before You Cut Artificial Turf
- Before you begin, it’s a good idea to sketch out the layout of your turf. The project’s final design will depend on the width of the turf roll you are using. In other words, the size and shape of the area you plan to install.
- In this sense, laying artificial grass is like installing carpet flooring.
Step 4: Unroll the Artificial Grass
- Before installing the turf, roll it out flat onto a clean, dry surface. Once rolled out, the artificial turf must rest flat and warm up for six hours.
- It’s essential to keep the artificial turf flat during this time since you want it to lay flat when it’s time to install it.
- A flat, clean driveway, especially with good sun exposure, works well for this purpose.
Step 5: “Seam” The Artificial Grass
- The next step in installing artificial turf is to lay out the cut pieces according to your plan and seam the edges together.
- Seaming is where the seam tape comes into play. Be sure to line up your seams as carefully as possible before starting this step since this will help make the turf look a bit more natural and wrinkle-free when finished.
- Roll out the seam tape to the length you need to seam the pieces together and cut it into appropriate sections.
- Then, roll back one side of the seam and place the seam tape underneath. You can then mark the tape with a pencil or marker where the line between the two pieces will be.
- Next, roll both sides of the turf away from the tape and apply your adhesive. Carefully lay the pieces of turn down onto the tape, bringing them together where you’ve marked the tape so that they fit correctly.
- Remember that the adhesive used for seam tape requires a light misting of water to activate it, so you’ll need a spray bottle filled with water for this project.
Step 6: Fasten Artificial Grass In Place
- Laying artificial turf requires more than seam tape to hold it in place.
- You’ll use 6-inch nails around the artificial turf perimeter to fasten it to the medium underneath.
- Space the nails about 12 inches apart in low-traffic areas and 8 inches in areas where you and your family will be walking regularly.
- Be sure to complete all of your final cuts and trimming before you nail the turf down since you won’t be able to move it quickly after this step.
Step 7: Spread The “Infill Material”
- Your final step in installing artificial grass is to spread an infill material to make your synthetic lawn look more natural.
- Infill is a green-colored substrate material that helps the “blades” of your fake grass stand up like natural grass and maintains pressure on the turf by weighing it down.
- Applying infill is the final step to give your fake lawn the look of natural grass.
- To apply infill, use a garden drop spreader or spread it by hand.
- Once the infill is distributed over the turf, you must spread it evenly to get the right look.
- The best way to do this is with a power broom, but you can get away with a regular hand broom or a synthetic turf rake.
- Be sure to spread the infill evenly since you want it to cover the entire turf rather than end up in thick piles.
Is Artificial Grass Worth It?
In our opinion, Artificial grass is worth the money for anyone who could appreciate the four benefits of artificial grass we list below. Those who have never owned a property with Artificial Grass may not know exactly what it is and whether artificial grass is worth the installation price.
So, if you’re wondering how much it costs to install fake grass – or how difficult it is to install artificial turf yourself? Today we’ll show you the benefits, average cost, and how to install artificial grass DIY so you can easily make that decision for yourself:
Five (5) Benefits of Installing Artificial Grass
1) Artificial Turf “Saves Water.”
While many people benefit from installing a synthetic turf backyard, many homeowners choose synthetic turf to cut down and save money on public water usage.
Additionally, if you live in a dry or desert climate, you may have restrictions on public water use, making it challenging to maintain natural grass correctly.
For many of these reasons, Artificial Turf is especially prevalent in the Southwest United States, offering homeowners economic relief and providing water conservation benefits.
According to Bob Villa, there are numerous reasons to install artificial grass, specifically for those with “Water Woes.”
2) Artificial Turf “Helps Save the Environment.”
In addition to using less water, artificial grass doesn’t require chemical fertilizers or pesticides. If you’re concerned about your lawn’s environmental impact, a synthetic alternative may be the right choice.
Synthetic grass will always have a lower environmental impact than natural grass, making it the right solution for the eco-conscious homeowner.
3) Artificial Turf “Prevents Pet Damage to Lawns.”
Outside of environmental considerations, many homeowners also choose artificial lawns to keep their dogs from damaging their yards.
As any dog owner knows, dog urine can easily damage natural grass. Fake grass for dogs is a great solution to prevent your family pet from ruining the lawn, especially if you live in a dry area – where watering grass enough to counteract the pet urine isn’t a viable option.
4) Artificial Turf “Saves Time On Lawn Maintenance”:
Finally, artificial grass is an excellent option for anyone who doesn’t have or appreciates the time lawn maintenance requires.
While we’re a bit obsessive about lawn care here at Best Home Gear – we understand some people would prefer a root canal – to spending their weekend working on a lawn 🙂
If you fall into this category, installing a maintenance-free fake grass lawn will help you get out of everything from fertilizing to watering, mowing, trimming, and blowing!
5) Artificial Turf Creates a “Cooler” Yard
Most desert climate areas don’t employ real grass lawns but instead create “zero-scape” lawns, utilizing crushed stone, gravel, and desert plants.
According to AZ Central, It’s estimated that surface temperatures in places like Phoenix, Arizona, where I spend part of my year, paved and concrete surfaces can soar to over 180 degrees, with outdoor ground surfaces reaching as high as 140 degrees.
With peak outside temperatures reaching as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit, the stone materials used in typical (non-grass) yards will absorb, retain, and build up the heat all day.
While artificial grass is a hotter surface than natural grass lawns, they significantly reduce heat vs. crushed stone and gravel yards.
To Provide a Cooler Yard, install Artificial Grass To:
- Avoid stone materials in a yard that absorb and retain heat
- Shade the earth below the artificial grass.
- Allow retained heat to escape – Artificial grass mat is made of porous material.
Conclusion, Whether you’re using artificial grass for dogs, trying to cut down on your environmental impact, or don’t like routine lawn maintenance, there are many different reasons why you might want to consider switching to an artificial lawn.
How Much Does Artificial Grass Cost?
Initially, it’s easy to get scared off by the cost of artificial grass. Fake grass can cost relatively high up-front, ranging from $5 to as much as $15 per square foot.
The Good News – Typical Artificial Turf installations are location-specific (small backyards, seating areas, etc.) and usually run between 100 – 1,000 square feet of installed lawn on average.
The amount you’ll pay, of course, will depend on the grade of turf material you choose, the drainage medium you select (granite vs. sand), the amount of labor it takes to install turf in your yard, and the overall price range for the area you happen to live.
To get a rough idea of what you’ll pay, refer to this artificial grass cost comparison chart – but on average, you will pay approximately $7.00/SF to have a medium-grade artificial turf lawn installed professionally.
Artificial Grass Costs:
If you install DIY artificial turf, you buy the materials, but all labor costs are waived.
For Instance, the highly-rated Greenline Sapphire Fescue 50 Turf Grass from Home Depot – is less than $2.50/SF for the Artificial Grass material.
Before you decide that artificial lawn cost isn’t for you, let’s also stop and consider how it stacks up against owning and maintaining natural grass lawns.
On average, you can expect to pay about 25 to 50 cents per square foot for natural grass sod, which looks like a much better price option – on the surface.
The better consideration, however, is to look at the Lifetime Cost of each type of lawn.
Natural Lawn Maintenance Cost:
After you lay down a natural (sod) lawn, you’ll still have to pay for herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, and water, the cost and maintenance of a lawnmower, and extra grass seed for occasional reseeding.
Unlike installing fake grass with natural grass, these aren’t one-time expenses. Instead, they are costs you will expect to pay year after year.
Artificial Grass Saves Time & Money
Since a synthetic lawn can last as long as 25 years before it needs replacing, it usually pays for itself in seven years or less and lasts another 15 years – after the break-even price has been realized.
When you factor in both the cost and the time savings of not maintaining a regular lawn, you’ll come out significantly ahead on artificial grass.
Before you ask “how much astroturf lawns cost,” consider how much you’re already spending to maintain your lawn each year.
Once you crunch the numbers, you may be surprised by the annual costs of maintaining a natural grass lawn – And how much pressure it takes off home improvement chores. Let’s take a look at the numbers below:
Artificial Grass vs. Natural Grass: Maintenance Cost Difference
- Artificial grass represents a substantial initial investment for most homeowners – with prices ranging between $5 and $15 per square foot installed. $7.00/ per square foot is the average cost. However, artificial lawn ownership is free for up to 25 years once artificial grass is installed.
- Natural Grass only costs about .30 cents per square foot. But that’s only the beginning. The maintenance cost of an existing grass lawn requires Water, trimming, mowing and blowing, and seasonal fertilizing to keep it lush and weed-free.
- Your Time: Place and value on Your labor. The time you spend yearly to provide the above lawn maintenance can be up to 100 hours per season, which is very significant.
1,000 Square Foot Lawn – Cost Comparison Example:
For comparison, let’s look at the example of installing and maintaining a 1,000-square-foot “Artificial Turf lawn vs. Natural Grass” Lawn:
- Natural Grass (Sod not Grass seed) @ $.40 cents/SF = $400
- Artificial Turf (Complete Installation) – National Avg. @ $7/SF = $7,000
Maintenance Cost (Annual)
Natural Grass Lawn Maintenance:
- Lawn Contract – $120/month x 6 months = $720*
- Seasonal Fertilizer (4 times/annually) – (by homeowner) = $150
- Watering ($20/mo. avg. 1200 gal.) x 6 months = $120**
- Natural Grass Maintenance – Annual Cost = $990.00
* Professional Lawn Contract average. You could also calculate the cost of lawn maintenance, including mower equipment, maintenance/replacement, fuel, etc., to perform work yourself.
** Water Estimate does not include the irrigation system maintenance/repairs cost.
Artificial Grass Lawn Maintenance:
- Occasional spot watering = $20.00
- Artificial Turf Deodorizer Treatment (For pet owners) = $30.00
Summary: Investment and Maintenance Cost Difference:
The break-even cost of installing Artificial Grass (Initial Investment) vs. Natural Sod is approximately seven (7) years.
Maintenance Cost: (over 20 years)
Artificial Grass vs. Natural Grass – after the Initial 7-year investment (Years 8 through 20) you save approximately $900/year (or) an $11,700 savings over the next 12 years.
As we said, It takes roughly seven (7) years or less to break even on the Artificial Grass installation cost. So, If you plan to stay in your home for seven years or more, it may be worth the initial investment, just on cost alone.
However, If you plan on staying longer or your home market considers the investment in artificial grass an improvement and selling point for future buyers, it is worth considering.
- Installing Artificial Turf yourself (DIY) without hiring a professional – will significantly reduce the initial investment below the figures noted above. And NO Weeds to remove.
- On average, homeowners save 16 hours/month or 96 hours/season – of lawn maintenance labor over a regular six-month season.
- 16 hours a month to do “other things” – is Priceless.
- You save money by using Grass Seed vs. Sod – But the germination period is 20-30 days to grow grass from seed.
- Artificial grass can be installed in 2-3 days.
Video – “How to Install Synthetic Turf”
With the above Seven Steps, you will know how to install artificial grass yourself and how to save substantial money on labor costs.
It’s good to remember that every yard is different, so you must adapt this process to fit your situation and property configuration.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: How Much Does It Cost To Have Artificial Grass Installed Professionally?
A: On average, professional synthetic turf installation (labor only) will run between $2.00 – $3.00 per square foot. Costs will vary in your area; the above labor average is for turf material only.
Hiring labor to install the medium-gravel base ahead of the turf installation could cost an additional $1.00 – $2.00 per square foot.
Q: How Do You Prep Ground for Artificial Grass?
A: The steps we recommend for the ground preparation of installing artificial grass include the following:
First, remove grass or weeds, level the ground, and add substrate (base material) of decomposed fine granite.
Once the ground has been prepared, you can install the artificial turf and cast a layer of infill over the grass to make it look more natural and weigh the artificial turf down.
Q: Is Artificial Grass for Dogs a Good Idea?
A: As mentioned earlier, one of the primary reasons many homeowners install astroturf – is to keep their lawns from being ruined by dog urine.
This is especially important when you can’t water frequently enough to prevent damage.
The necessary steps described above will allow you to lay down artificial grass that your dog won’t be able to damage.
However, buying pet-friendly synthetic turf is important if you install fake grass for pet protection. These products are designed for better drainage and to withstand a dog’s wear and tear on the turf.
Q: How Do You Clean Dog Urine On Artificial Grass?
A: Pet urine is naturally drained through the perforated holes in artificial grass and evacuated through the coarse ground layer below.
If you don’t get regular rain showers, watering the pet area turf with a garden hose or sprinkler is usually sufficient to clean it.
In addition to selecting the correct blend of Artificial Grass for dogs, pet urine can leave odors if not attended to regularly. For this reason, always have a dog urine deodorizer on hand for artificial turfs, Such as this one from Simple Green at Amazon, which is applied with a garden hose attachment sprayer.
Q: How Do You Install Artificial Grass on Concrete?
A: The steps listed above for DIY artificial grass installation assume you’re installing the grass over dirt.
However, If you’re installing artificial grass on top of concrete, there are extra steps you’ll have to complete before you can start the installation:
Follow These (2) Steps To Install Artificial Grass over Concrete:
- Step 1: First, you’ll need to check the drainage. You should be okay if your concrete surface drains well because it is on a slope. However, If water pools on the concrete slab, you must drill some small 1/4″ drainage holes to keep water from pooling underneath the artificial grass.
- Space the 1/4″ holes in concrete randomly – specifically in the low area where water is “pooling.”
- Step 2: Install a waterproof foam underlayment beneath your turf for safety. It’s easy to find, as most flooring contractors use a similar material under wood flooring installations.
- A foam layer will help cushion against falls and could reduce the likelihood of injury should a fall occur on artificial grass on concrete.
We hope this article has helped you learn how to install artificial grass in your yard.
DIY artificial grass is a great home improvement project for people looking to reduce their ecological impact, make their yard more pet-friendly, or reduce the work they must invest in maintaining their lawns.
While synthetic grass isn’t for everyone, we think it’s an excellent long-term economical option worth considering.
Installing Artificial Turf is a relatively simple process that you can do with just a bit of know-how, a few pieces of essential equipment, and a few sets of extra hands to help you out!
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