How to Lay an Artificial Lawn – Explained!

A DIY guide to installing artificial turf.

A green lush front and backyard is a desire every Australian homeowner has. But the cost and maintenance of, let’s say Kikuyu grass isn’t on the budget side of things. Instead, installing an artificial turf may be the better choice for you.

Fake grass requires little to no maintenance, it’s fairly easy to install and it’s rich green in colour throughout the whole year. It ticks every box, no?

So, what exactly more would you need to DIY the artificial turf installation in your property? Let’s take a look at the tools needed for the job and follow a step-by-step installation process provided by our professional gardeners!

 

In this article

 

Tools needed to lay artificial turf

While turf installation is a fairly easy job to do by yourself, you’ll have to invest in the proper tools in order to have a smooth process and have a professional looking install. Here is what you’ll need to lay artificial grass:

Easy to find tools

  • Hammer and flathead nails
  • Rake, shovel and tape measure
  • Utility knife (throw in some spare blades too)
  • Water
  • Synthetic turf joining tape (can be found at any major hardware store)

Special tools

  • Finely crushed rock
  • Whitewash sand
  • Power blower
  • Compactor
  • Excavator (if you’re going to install the synthetic turf to a larger area)


Jump to your step!

 

Step 1: Remove the existing turf

 

A visual explanation of how to excavate the existing turf.

It’s time to start preparing the place of choice for the artificial grass. In order to ensure that your fake turf stays in place and it keeps its good looks, properly excavating the existing turf is a must.

First, it’s time to clean up the base. Remove any rocks, debris or sprinklers that may interfere with the installation of the artificial grass.

Grab your shovel and start excavating the extra soil that you won’t need. Dig to a depth of 70mm to 80mm. This is going to be the bed where you’ll lay out the artificial turf.

Once you’ve got the area excavated to the proper depth and the desired size, it’s time to grab your rake and level the base. Make sure it’s smooth, as big chunks can cause problems in future steps of the installation.

 

Step 2: Compact the base for the artificial turf

A visual explanation compacting the base for the artificial grass.

The next step of the installation of your fake turf is to create the perfect base. It’s best to use finely crushed rock as the base of your artificial turf.

Crushed rock can be found easily in most major hardware stores throughout Australia, and it costs about AU$45 per cubic metre.

Evenly spread the crushed rock base. You can use a rake to lay the sub-base as flat as possible.

After you feel like it’s good enough, it’s time for you to use a compactor to compact the base. A vibrating plate will be the best for the job.

If you don’t feel necessary to spend money on renting a compactor you can use a flat wooden plate and grab a friend to step on it. Repeat this process until the area feels ready.

Spray a mist of water on the crushed rock and use the compactor until the wet base becomes sturdy. The perfect depth of a sub-base for artificial grass is around 15mm to 20mm, so make sure to measure everything once you’ve compacted the crushed rock.

Anything deeper will make the fake grass look sunken in the ground, while anything more can result in an elevated and unnatural look.

 

Step 3: Roll out and place the turf in place

A visual explanation of rolling the turf and setting it in place

Great! You’re halfway done. Once you’ve compacted the base it’s time to lay out the synthetic turf itself. It has most likely been stored rolled, so you should leave it unrolled for two or three hours to allow it to set in place and even out any creases.

Always lay the separate synthetic turf pieces in the same direction. This way you’ll ensure seamless fitting.

Use a sharp utility knife to cut through the turf. Clean cuts will ensure proper joining and it will make the job a lot easier. Always change the blades if they start feeling dull. Remove any strips that may be covering an adhesive material.

 

Step 4: Join the pieces of artificial turf

A visual explanation of how to join two separate pieces of artificial grass.

One of the most important steps in making the fake grass look like real is to ensure proper joining of the separate pieces.

Make sure that the separate pieces of turf are as close as possible. It’s important that they don’t touch and don’t overlap. A small gap (just a couple of millimetres) is more than enough.

Roll out the turf tape through the whole length of the fake turf. Once you’ve set in place the turf pieces and the artificial grass tape, pill the adhesive protection of the tape and place the tape in place throughout the entire length of the joining. In order to make sure everything is secured in place walk a couple of times on top of the joining spot.

Depending on the artificial turf brand and the brand of the tape, you will have differences of adhesive and installation. The tips above are generalised, so it’s best if you read the instructions coming with the products, or check if they have a website with instructions in order to make sure your installation is the most suitable for the products you use.

 

Step 5: Trim the pieces of the fake grass

A visual explanation of how to trim the edges of the fake turf.

With the pieces joined and comfortably sitting in their bed, it’s time to walk around the turfs’ edges and trim any pieces that might be protruding out of the desired place.

Grab the same sharp utility knife (change the blade if you haven’t already) you used earlier and trim out everything you feel isn’t needed.

Make sure not to trim too much because you’ll have to make patches that will interfere with the natural look of the turf.

 

Step 6: Adjust the turf and set it in place

A visual explanation of how to set the turf in place

Almost ready! The turf pieces are joined, perfectly placed in its bed, but you’re going to play with your pets maybe, kids will be running around, a BBQ or two might take place this month – in other words, it’s time to make sure your brand new synthetic turf stays in place.

Grab your hammer and the flat head nails we mentioned you’ll need earlier in the article. It’s best if you use thin nail (so they aren’t noticeable from above) and nail the turf along the edges. Place a nail every 25cm to 30cm.

In order to hide the nail make sure you pin it between the blades of the leaf. You can also use a dark coloured sharpie to ensure the nails blend in with the environment.

 

Step 7: Protect and sand the turf

A visual explanation of how to disperse sand on your fake turf.

Small things add up to natural looking turf. Around 12kg of sand will be needed per square meter of fake turf.

Gently spread the sand throughout the artificial piece of grass. Use the rake to gently spread out the fine sand and make sure it’s even throughout the whole area.

You can also use a seed dropper to spread out the sand. However, if you’re working on a larger area we advise you to rent a sand spreader.

 

Hire a professional to do it for you!

While not necessarily hard, turf installation isn’t a job for people with little to no experience. Hiring professional landscapers will ensure that you’ve got a perfectly laid out lawn, proper drainage and the best fitment possible.

Ready to install your synthetic turf?

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Cost of installing synthetic turf in Australia

Increasing the curb appeal of your Australian home with fake turf will vary. The type of grass, the size of the area that you’re going to do and if you’re going to DIY the project or hire someone to do it for you.

The average cost of installing fake turf is AU$5,625 (for an average 75 sq. m. yard), but it also depends on the size of the area you want to place the turf in, the tools that you’ll need (mainly if you’ll have to hire an excavator) and the people needed for the job.

For low to mid-range synthetic grass expect to pay around AU$50 to AU$80 per square meter. For higher end fake turf expect a price of around AU$100 per square meter.

Most contractors will want to know the type of area they’re going to work on and price accordingly. For the most accurate price contact your service provider of choice and request a quote.

 

In conclusion…

Synthetic turf requires a big initial investment and a bit of old-fashioned hard work, but once set in place you’ll have little to no expenses in maintaining it, instead, you’ll enjoy a lush green turf year round.

So, if you’ve made your mind and you’re ready to invest in artificial turf contact us and we can discuss further working together in Australia!

Image source: Shutterstock/Christine Bird

Posted in Gardening Tips

Last update: June 11, 2019

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