PREPARING YOUR LAWN
If you haven’t done so already, the first step is to plan out and measure your garden to determine how much artificial lawn, geotextile membrane and jointing materials you will need. Roughly calculating the right amount to order will help you to prevent a high amount of waste and cut-offs and ensure you don’t spend more than you need to, keeping the project cost-effective. There are several mobile apps that can be used to measure distances; however, you can’t go wrong with a good old-fashioned tape measure! Make sure to measure several times, comparing the last measurement each time to catch any potential mistakes.
Haven’t downloaded our project planner yet? Click here to download a blank grid image, useful for plotting your garden measurements.
REMOVING YOUR LAWN
This is an essential part of preparing the ground to lay artificial grass, even if it's one of the most physically demanding aspects of the DIY process; though it is made much easier with the right tools. Unfortunately, most of us don't own the best tools for this job and we have to make do with a spade and wheelbarrow. Watering the sod a few days before you intend to remove it can make the job slightly easier, preventing lots of dry mud and dirt from getting scattered everywhere. However, be sure to avoid overwatering as this can create messy, muddy patches that do not dig up easily.
We find it easiest to use the edge of your spade to cut small squares into the grass - approximately two inches deep and ten inches long and wide. That way, you should be able to remove most of the roots and the squares should be a good size to get your spade under and lift away from the soil. Depending on the type of grass in your garden, the roots may be shallow or clinging deep into the soil beneath; it can take some effort to separate the two layers. This is a physical task and will be quite tiring, so take lots of breaks and keep well hydrated if you are working in the sunshine. This can be made much easier by renting a turf-cutting machine. These can be hired from local hire centres and will save a great deal of time and effort.
If you are planning on reusing your topsoil, passing it on to friends or family or even selling it locally, consider removing the sod in strips that can be easily rolled up for simple storage and easy transportation. You may need to manually remove loose soil clinging to grassroots in order to ensure a tight roll and make it easier to stack flat sections of grass.
LAYING A BASE OF GRANITE DUST
When exploring how to lay artificial grass on soil, we recommend laying a crushed stone base to bind the top of your subbase and ensure an even distribution across the entire area designated for your artificial grass installation. We would recommend laying any subbase onto a roughly levelled area beforehand for the best results. If you are planning to add a border to your updated garden, make sure that you fit and install your chosen artificial grass edging at this stage. This will prevent you having to disrupt your perfectly compacted and levelled subbase in order to put the edgings in. Ensure that you put the edgings in to your finished level though to avoid trouble later on in the process.
We use a special granite aggregate mix which is mostly stone and only a little bit of dust (less dust is better, particularly with dogs). This is available from most builders’ merchants, and other crushed granite stone aggregates are also suitable as a subbase. If you’re really struggling, you can use sharp sand under artificial grass (although this is not recommended if you have dogs).
Make sure to have your ruler available and to hand; you’ll need to aim for a depth of approximately 15-50mm. We'd suggest measuring the depth of the first patch, then trusting your eyes for the rest, otherwise, the weekend will be over, and you'll have achieved little more than creating a pit full of dust! If you have large dips within the area or have removed lots of plants, trees or bushes, we would recommend using Type 1 stone to help consolidate the soil before blinding over the top with the crushed granite.
Again, our professional installers have useful tools to make this process easier, but you will need to flatten the subbase for artificial grass out as best you can. A plank of wood or a long spirit level can do the job but a lawn roller, tamper or wacker plate is best.
LAYING A GEOTEXTILE MEMBRANE
If you want your new lawn to last as long as possible, we strongly recommend laying some form of weed membrane. It's best to lay the geotextile membrane on top of the subbase to prevent any chance of unsightly weed growth (although it can also be laid underneath the subbase as well).
Laying a geotextile membrane for your artificial lawn is an easy process, requiring no additional joining materials. It simply involves unrolling a sheet of the membrane across the laid subbase. Be careful not to displace too much evenly laid out subbase or you will risk creating an uneven surface to lay out your artificial grass. Our high-quality geotextile membrane for preventing weed growth is available to buy online here. Once down it is often easier to fix the geotextile to the base using some small nails and then cut to the desired shape with sharp scissors. Be sure to pull the membrane as tight as possible when pinning it down for the best result without lots of creases. The pins will also stop it from moving once you start cutting and allow for a neater finish!
INSTALLING ARTIFICIAL GRASS
At this point we'd suggest taking a step back to congratulate yourself for what you've achieved and have a nice cup of tea. But mainly because the next step requires a bit of planning.
You want to lay your carpet in a way that will minimise cutting too much, and if you're having to join two or more pieces of grass, you need to make sure the grass is laid with the pile running in the same direction on each piece. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to lay the grass starting from the longest straight edge to avoid the most cutting, although this isn’t always possible.
It's important not to rush this process. Roll out our artificial grass and then leave for ideally 24 hours - this allows any creases to fall out. Then, stretch the grass to make sure it's nice and flat. In the summer when it is hot, this process should be a lot quicker.
TRIMMING EXCESS LAWN TO SHAPE
Cut the grass to shape using a Stanley knife for a perfect fit. Like all processes of removing material during installation, it’s important to measure twice as you’ll only get to perform the cut once. Otherwise, you run the risk of cutting too much from your new lawn. It’s difficult to explain the best techniques for cutting in the grass, so please do look at some videos on the internet if you’re unsure!
There is no reason to rush this process. You’ll be making the final joins next and if the process of trimming any extra lawn is carried out hastily and goes wrong, it can be difficult to join smaller offcuts together to repair the problem area.
MAKING NEAT JOINS
By ensuring that the pile on joining pieces of grass run in the same direction during the artificial grass installation process, you’ve made joining two artificial grass carpets neatly a much easier task for yourself. To guarantee that joins are secure and look the part, follow the next process steps on how to join artificial grass:
- Cut off the manufacturing edge strip (if present) or cut off another 3-4 stitches so that there is as little backing as possible next to the stitch and butt the two edges together
- Fold back the edges and position jointing tape (smooth green side down) so that the edges of the carpet meet down the centre of the tape when joined. It is often easier to fix the tape with nails all the way along to prevent it from moving
- Apply adhesive in a zig-zag motion to the rougher white side of the tape allowing, one cartridge for approximately every three metres
- Fold the carpet back into the wet adhesive starting from one end and working your way down to the other. This step is easier with another person to prevent the whole carpet from suddenly folding back over forcefully impacting with the glue.
- Weight the seam to ensure good contact with the glue until cured
The more care and time you take over this operation, the neater and less visible the joins will be.
SPREADING AND BRUSHING IN FILLER SAND
We always spread sand on top of fake grass to aid the finish. When it comes to what sand to use for artificial grass, the type of sand under artificial grass and the type you lay on top are different. We advise you to spread silica kiln sand across your artificial lawn as soon as you have finished fixing the joins, building the depth in layers and gently brushing in the sand with a stiff-bristled (non-metal) brush.
There are no strict guidelines on how much sand for turf you should use as it varies depending on the pile length, but generally, it’s about 5kg per m2 of grass. It’s important not to apply all the sand at once and to only lay the sand when the artificial lawn and weather are dry as you won’t be able to efficiently brush the sand in when wet or damp, and it will affect the appearance of the end result.
When you have finished applying an even layer of sand to your artificial grass, firmly and vigorously brush the sand into the carpet, brushing against the pile fibre direction to encourage the individual grass tufts to stand upright. When brushed out effectively, you won’t need to worry about sand-coloured artificial grass – it will blend in seamlessly. A power brush is best for the final brush, which again, can be hired if you’re looking for the best possible finish.