How To Lay Artificial Grass

Artificial grass is the hardwearing and cost effective alternative to a traditional lawn that requires no mowing or weeding, looks just like real grass and is easy to install. Before we show you how to lay artificial turf here are some reasons why it is a great alternative to real grass.

What are the benefits of artificial grass lawns?

Hygienic, easy to clean and low maintenance – artificial grass can simply be brushed or washed down making it perfect for pets and children’s play areas and best of all it requires no mowing and little maintenance.

Hardwearing – unlike a traditional lawn artificial grass will not wear and turn into a muddy mess in wet conditions.  Artificial turf is the all-weather surface that can be enjoyed by children and pets year round but will look smart and lush for years.

Looks just like real grass – modern artificial turf products look and feel very realistic with various pile lengths and styles available for a variety of garden types and applications from short piles for ornamental lawns to longer piles for play areas and cottage gardens.

Cost effective and easy to install anywhere – artificial grass costs from as little as £18 per metre and can be laid in place of existing turf, over patio’s, on balconies and over most hard surfaces. 

Planning and measuring

Please note this is purely a guide and we would strongly recommend you employ a reputable landscape contractor to lay your artificial grass. We would always recommend you thoroughly research laying techniques prior to taking on your project yourself. 

Turf is sold by the square metre and is available from AWBS in 4m roll widths, a choice of pile lengths and lengths of up to 25 metres. Measure the overall length and width of the area to be covered with artificial grass and calculate the quantity of artificial turf required. It may be necessary to split complex areas into smaller zones to simplify the estimation process and drawing the area out on a grid or graph paper can be helpful.  It is important to include some additional length and width in your calculations to account for trimming and the shape of your lawn.  It should also be noted that rolls of artificial turf should always be laid in the same direction as one another to ensure that the pile matches and that the sections of turf should be sourced from the same production batch.

Removing the old turf and preparing the ground for artificial grass

Artificial grass requires a solid and stable base if it is to remain taut, smooth and looking its best and therefore it is necessary to remove the existing turf.  This can be done by hand with a sharp spade or a quicker and easier option for large areas is to use a mechanical turf cutter which can be hired for around £70 per day.

Once the old turf has been removed use a sharp spade to create a slight chamfer around the perimeter edge of the lawn so that the finished level is set approximately 30-35mm below the edgings.

In areas where the artificial turf meets paving or edging stone use a disk cutter to trim any mortar haunching flush with the paving, creating a neat edge for the turf to run into and be fixed in place.

Use a rake to level the ground so that a flat clean surface, free from high points and large stones, is achieved in preparation for installing the base on which the artificial turf will be laid.  Take care not to rake surface material into the newly chamfered edges.

Preparing and edges of the artificial lawn

Where there is no natural edge, paving or a wall for instance, it will be necessary to install an edging system.  For curved or circular designs and around features such as trees and shrubs a steel edging system should be installed and for straight lawns edges can be created using tanalised timber.

Stabilise the edges by laying a mixture of fine stone and post mix into the chamfered perimeter. This also helps to prevent worm casts and weed growth at the edges of the artificial lawn.

Trimming artificial turf around garden features and obstacles

Laying artificial turf is a similar process to laying a carpet.  Where obstacles such as trees and posts need to be accommodated it is necessary to make a cut from the closest external edge of the turf to the obstacle before trimming away the excess turf around the feature.

Using a sharp knife make a cut from the closest perimeter edge to the obstacle taking care to cut between the piles and avoiding damage to the grass blades.  This is important, if the blades of grass are damaged it will not be possible to achieve a neat seam when the turf is final fixed in place.

Starting at the base of the obstacle carefully use a sharp knife to splice the artificial grass roll.  This will release the tension in the turf roll and allow it to lay flat around the perimeter of the obstacle.

Next ensure that the 2 cut edges of turf leading from the perimeter to the obstacle meet perfectly.  If the 2 cut edges do not meet perfectly this indicates that the turf roll is still under slight tension and that further splicing and trimming around the base of the obstacle is required.

Creating a stable base for the artificial turf

With the edges of the lawn prepared the next stage is to create a stable base on which to lay the artificial turf.  If the ground is soft or unstable it will be necessary to clear a further layer of earth and lay a 40mm compacted MOT Type 1 base.

Once a stable and flat base has been achieved lay a 20-40mm thick layer of fine 1-4mm granite grit or similar. Using a rake or dummy rake distribute the granite grit evenly over the base creating a crown in the centre approximately 80mm higher than the surrounding edges.  Creating a crown in the centre of the lawn produces a more natural appearance and will allow for slight settlement over time.

It is now necessary to compact the 1-4mm granite grit base using a mechanical compactor plate which can be hired for around £25-£30 per day.  First thoroughly wet the granite grit base using a hose and sprinkler attachment.  Then compact the perimeter edges working inwards with each circuit until the centre of the area is reached.  Using a rake or dummy rake carefully remove any ridges that have been created by the compactor plate.  The compacted base should be approximately 15mm lower than the perimeter edgings.

Preparing the ground – installing a weed membrane

The final stage prior to laying the artificial turf is to install a good quality weed membrane.  AWBS recommend a heavy duty woven membrane such as Geotextile Fastrack 609 which is both strong and provides complete separation between the base and artificial turf.

The weed membrane should be stretched out over the entire area and fixed in position around the perimeter edges using 6 inch galvanised nails.  Where the membrane meets features such as trees or shrubs it should be trimmed and fixed, again using 6 inch galvanised nails.  Once the membrane is fixed in position the perimeter edges should be trimmed using a shape knife so that the weed membrane neatly follows the hard edges and features of the lawn.

Bonding the joints between sections of artificial turf

With the cut edges of the artificial turf meeting correctly the 2 sections can now be joined permanently.  Sections and rolls of artificial turf are joined together using a jointing tape and a special adhesive.

Measure the joint between the 2 sections of artificial turf and cut an equivalent length of joining tape. Lay the joining tape blotting side up, shiny side down beneath the turf and on top of the weed membrane.  Ensure that the tape is spaced equally beneath the 2 cut edges of the artificial turf and fix it in place with 6 inch galvanised nails along each side of the tape at 20cm intervals.

Check the alignment of the 2 cut edges of turf to ensure that they meet perfectly.  Then trim the turf slightly where the cut edges meet perimeter edge so that it is not disturbed once the adhesive is applied.  The adhesive is applied using a mastic gun.  Roll back one side of the cut turf edge and apply a constant bead of the artificial grass glue under the turf edge followed by an identical bead just in front of this edge for the second section of turf.  Now carefully roll back the second section of turf until the two edges meet perfectly taking care not to bury any of the pile or grass strands. 

Once you are happy with the position of the turf joint apply gentle pressure along the joint with your hand to disperse the glue.  Using 6 inch galvanised nails, open the pile to ensure that the nails do not bury any of the grass strands and nail along the joint at 50cm intervals starting from the perimeter edge.  Once the turf joint is secured in position fix the turf with 6 inch galvanised nails around features and obstacles.

Installing the artificial turf

When installing artificial turf it is recommended that the pile should be run towards the house in rear gardens and away from the house in front gardens.  This gives the artificial lawn a lush and natural appearance.

Unroll the artificial turf and position so that it lays flat on the base with no creases or bumps and ensure that it overlaps perimeter edges and features by 100mm to allow for trimming.  Where the artificial turf meets obstacles and features such as trees and posts fold the turf back and decide on the shortest route to trim the turf around the obstacle.

Installing artificial turf – trimming and fixing the edges of the artificial turf

Using a sharp knife trim the corners and edges of the artificial turf at the lawn perimeters.  Starting at the corners, fix the artificial turf in position using 6 inch galvanised nails at 75cm intervals along the perimeter edges.  In areas where the pile runs away from the finished edge of the lawn roll the edge under itself and then brush the pile by hand towards finished lawn edge.

Finishing and conditioning your new artificial turf lawn

Now that the newly laid artificial turf has been seemed, trimmed and fixed with nails along all of the edges it is time to add a heavy layer of kiln dried sand to the perimeter edges.  Work the sand into the artificial turf by hand, clawing the pile open to ensure that all the edges are fully loaded with the sand.

Next using a mechanical sand hopper spread an even layer of kiln dried sand over the entire surface of the artificial grass.  If you do not have a mechanical hopper, cut holes into bags of kiln dried sand and spread the contents evenly over the entire surface.  It is recommended that 6-8 kg of kiln dried sand be spread over each square metre of artificial turf.  Using a stiff yard broom brush the kiln dried sand into the pile of the turf.  Once complete use a mechanical blower to remove excess sand that has not been absorbed into the pile.  Repeat the process until all of the sand is absorbed into the lawn.

Congratulations the installation of your new artificial lawn is now complete.  If you would like a quote for professional installation of artificial turf please do contact our landscape gardening department who are based in Oxford.  For further information, advice or to see our artificial turf products please do visit your local AWBS Building & Landscaping branch in Oxford, Swindon or Yarnton where are knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you.

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