Shawgrass is a tough turf that calls for preparation and proper installation.
Artificial grass installation should only be done by a Last Lawn professional. Preparing the site is critical for lasting success and while it will involve the most labor, it will also provide the best results. These artificial turf installation tips will help to ensure that your projects are planned well and give your patrons the results they want and need.
A. Area: The plot for an artificial grass job should be visibly defined and marked.
B. Drainage: Determine if the installation area has an adequate existing drainage or will require extra drains or modified drains, grading, or sloping.
C. Soil Condition: Determine if you will want to wet or soften the soil or use a jackhammer to get rid of invasive rocks. Waterlogged ground may need to dry a few days prior to when artificial turf fitting begins.
D. Irrigation: Locate existing sprinklers or bubblers for the rest of the trees and plants or complete irrigation for trees and plants before you proceed. Mark all irrigation lines, electrical conduit, etc. under your lawn that could be damaged during the artificial grass project. Move these obstacles where you are able.
Irrigation sprinklers are not needed for lawn turf, you’ll want to request help from your irrigation specialist to assist in rerouting or shutting off heads. If you choose to add the TurfChiller cooling technology, you may want to simply change the irrigation settings at the box as your customers will be thrilled having a convenient watering source.
E. Preventing Future Damage: Determine if additional supplies you require to safeguard against damage from small land animals such as rodents. Rodent wire (similar to chicken wire) might be exactly what you need. Secure the complete space to stop the artificial turf from being ripped up or damaged by your cat or dog.
F. Existing Design Elements: Uncover existing concrete borders and determine whether you need to pin the turf into concrete borders. If you are planning to use different border materials, curbing, or edging, set it prior to clipping the synthetic grass and supplementing it with any base material, as this will provide you a more precise measurement for the synthetic turf. Roots from trees in your yard, as well as preventing to attract pests should also be strategized around.
G. Measurements: To reduce labor, determine the size of the prepared space thoroughly and design the plan to bring down the number of seams in the synthetic turf. Expect to need a bit of excess material, particularly if you include curved edges for your desired layout. A good number to use is 10%. Use a smart level or transit for a proper slope of 2% min.
H. Design Application Tips: All synthetic grass installments have a pile (grain) direction that has to be taken into account. Notice the direction of the pile and install all of the synthetic turf in the same pile pattern. Putting synthetic grass in disagreeing pile patterns may end up showing obvious seams. The grain should face toward the desired viewing direction as this will bring down the sheen.
Measure the full synthetic grass space, and order more than enough synthetic grass to cover the whole area. Do this even if you only do partial installations over a period of time. Artificial grass is manufactured in different batches with normal batch-to-batch distinction, so you will do well to purchase enough for your full project. Artificial turf is normally packaged in rolls that are 12 or 15 feet wide, so you could separate your installation space into 12 or 15 foot wide sections, and then add the full length of these areas. Roll out the turf the day before, letting the panel set. If the artificial turf is bent, lay it flat in the sun or pull it taught.
You will need more infill if you choose a higher pile height. So make sure of your measurements. Also, it is important to remember that the artificial grass wrapped closest to the middle might be excessively wrinkled, plan on about 18” of waste just to be certain you don’t need to order more.
B. BASE MATERIAL
You will need about two to six inches of a stone base layer under your artificial grass. One yard of base material is enough to cover 80 sq. ft. at 4 inches depth (one yard = one ton). Fine stone or aggregate (89 stone; 1/4” to 5/8” in size) can be laid on top of a coarse mix (57 stone; 1/2” to 3/4” in size), or a combination of coarse and fine aggregate (often called crush and run) is used.
Avoid using pea gravel as your base layer. Never use pea gravel as the rounded stone will definitely shift to a problematic degree. Pea gravel stones have a smooth, rounded surface, making them difficult to compact. Your nearby nursery, mulch or stone center will be your for gravel.
Infill helps anchor the synthetic grass down and stabilize the fibers to keep them upright and protects against matting. Infill is crucial as it promotes water flow and produces a strong, normal grass feeling base. Different infills can work as well. TurfChiller brings down the temperature of the turf considerably and requires 2# at the very least to have any effect. Envirofill is a turf fill that is green in color, offers some cooling properties and has Microban®. having it all is a very good combination when children or pets are involved.
D. SAND INFILL
In some regions, it is recommended that you get a color-coated sand on the top of your infill. This color-coating makes the sand more expensive than normal sand, it is most often only used on the top of your infill. The right rate would be 1 lb per sq ft. Determine the volume of sand infill before you begin; an educated amount is three to five pounds of sand per square foot on 50-80 ounce synthetic grass.
TurfChiller is an evaporative cooling technology for cooling artificial grass areas. The Turf Chiller technology is a pre-coated material which comes adhered to the sand infill. Once you have laid it out, just wet to get it started. Turf Chiller demands moisture in order to give you a long-term cooling effect.
We highly recommend TurfChiller as it is a specialized infill that brings down surface temperatures substantially. When used around the kids and pets it supplies another tier of relaxation and gives you the best peace of mind on hot days.
Be sure to make a weed boundary. You could also want a wire mesh rodent fence if you have had prior rodent problems (gophers, moles, etc).
G. SEAMING MATERIAL
Make sure to have enough seaming tape to run the entire length of your seams, and to cover any paste. Take time to go over your seams well as this will be one of the most visible aspects when finished. Also, please ensure to note all of the adhesive labels to be sure that they are used and packed away correctly.
Plan your installation to lower the chances of visible seams; for example put the seams in the back or out of . Also, consider changing up your project to keep 15’ widths, this can save a lot of backbreaking work and possibly visible seams as well.
H. LANDSCAPE NAILS/SPIKES
(approximately 3.5 – 10 inches in length)
Nails will be used along sidewalks, tree rings, and other objects around the space to landscape. They will then get covered by infill but you might need to lay them as deep as you can. There are a range of spikes that you can purchase made of different materials from plastic to galvanized/non-galvanized. Local dirt will drive these decisions.
Use will determine the length of nails or spikes to use. Nails should be applied approximately every six inches along the outside of the lawn, as well as around all seams to hold down the turf.
Use nailer board nails one-to-two inches galvanized or staples 1⁄4 inch – 1⁄2 inch. More frequent nail spacing may be required when using nailer boards.
I. EDGING MATERIAL
Polyboard is superior to most lawn edging options because of its durability and multiple uses. It looks to be real wood but acts like plastic. Polyboard can be bent and curved to meet all your lawn maintenance needs. Pressure-treated wood might also be used.
TOOLS & EQUIPMENT
Gripped leather gloves
Safety cones—for setting up on street for materials and equipment
100 ft. standard metal tape measure
Snap line for marking lengthy cuts of turf
Hard-edge level—two-to-four foot
Square or T-square for squaring edges of turf
C. SITE PREPARATION
Flat head shovels
D. BASE PREPARATION
Transit or smart level
Asphalt or landscape rake (40 inch)
Pointed mason trowels – used to clear off edges of concrete, etc
Hand Tampers (Eight or 10 inch)
Water filled roller
2” x 1” x 2’ pieces of wood – for hand tamping fringes & small areas
E. TURF CUTTING
Commercial tier knives and blades (get a blade and knife set that is easily changeable and stock up on blades)
Drop spreaders for small projects using a small drop spreader (holds approx. 75 lbs. of infill) or for larger areas, using a commercial drop spreader (holds approx. 200 lbs.) or walk-behind or tow-behind machines.
Installation and grooming rakes (poly-nylon)
Grooming hand brooms or tools (poly-nylon)
G. MATERIAL HANDLING > 1000 SF
Forklift with forks and 15-foot carpet pole
Bungee rope for holding loads
H. HAND TOOLS
Small hand shovel—for cleaning around pipes and awkward borders
Pliers (various sizes and shapes)
Wrench and socket set (for small tool repairs and use in adjusting irrigation, etc)
Sledgehammer (medium to large)
Cement chisel for getting rid of random concrete, rocks or other items
Pipe cutter (for modifications to irrigation)
I. POWER TOOLS
Power brush to fibrillate (bloom) blades
Hand saw or power saw to chop bender board, pipes
Leaf blower (for cleanup of organic materials and job site areas)
Sod cutter (optional rental)
Vibrating plate compactor (optional rental)
J. MISC. TOOLS
lots of small and big tarps or plastic drop cloths
Several little containers for used blades and small buckets for filling by hand, small tools, and job materials
Gas cans for both plain gas and mixes
K. SITE CLEAN UP
Water hose (100 ft.) and nozzle with variable heads
Brooms (one hand bristle and one soft bristle)
Small hand broom for edges, rocks, and more
Shop vacuum (two gallon or larger)
2. AREA PREPARATION
Before you dig, call 8-1-1 to avoid causing damage to utilities underground and service interruption. This is the universal number for the 71 regional services that coordinate location services for public underground utilities in the U.S.
A. Remove all turfs, sods, mulches, etc. from the marked area. You can do this with a hand-held shovel, or a gas-powered sod puller (you can rent one at most rental centers) or hire a landscaper to remove the existing sod and any landscaping you want removed from your area of installation. Excavate two-to-six inches of turf and soil if removing an old lawn. Then you need to replace this soil and turf with two-to-six inches of stone base material.
B. For landscaping around flowers, shrubs, trees, utilities, light poles, etc., make sure to mark around those areas and leave room for the turf edge configuration.
C. Leave an ample room uncovered around the bases of trees.
D. Before you begin, make sure you are aware of any local legislation about the disposal of green waste. Allow your site to dry for a few days before excavating.
E. Make sure not to use a tiller to remove turf since that can ruin the soil under the sod and create an unstable base. For larger areas, a sod cutter is recommended. These are available at one of your local tool rental suppliers. A spade or shovel can be used to cut the sod into small strips in small areas.
F. Decomposition of organic material that’s left under newly installed surfaces will lead to sub-surface failure. Any recently removed tree stump or root areas need to be free of organic materials, then filled and compacted prior to job starts.
G. With an inverted spray can marker, mark boundaries for your yard and layout. Keep in mind that synthetic turf comes in either 12-foot or 15-foot widths. Remember this when you plan out your installation to have as few seams as possible with your layout.
H. A variety of border solutions and edging materials can be used for your synthetic turf project. Examples of this include transitions from synthetic turf to a flower bed, stone edging, mulch, or sidewalks. You might also utilize synthetic turf edging or synthetic lumber.
I. This is the best time to add edges, large rocks, install walkways, stepping stones, pavers, and walls.
J. If you have a sprinkler system within the area of installation, if possible, reroute to the perimeter, or turn off the valves of unnecessary sprinklers and cap them.
3. SOIL COMPACTION
A. It may be essential to compact the native soil/subgrade prior to base construction.
B. In the case where the native soils are saturated or soft, it is advisable to install a geotextile to separate the soft soils from the crushed stone base.
C. As a rule of thumb, if there’s standing water, or if water comes to the surface under foot, a geotextile should be used.
D. You should fully firm up the earth that you want to have as the foundation for your synthetic turf. For this you can use a sod roller or a vibrating plate compactor, which you can rent from your local rental suppliers. Make sure that the existing ground is properly sloped or follows the grade of the surrounding area for draining to work.
E. You should apply a top-quality weed and turf killer to the synthetic turf project site.
F. Figure out if extra supplies are needed to avoid damage from ground animals, weeds, or rodents. Weed boundaries and rodent wire (similar to chicken wire) may be the solution (this is not always necessary in arid or dry climates).
4. BASE CONSTRUCTION
A. A crushed stone base of two-to-six inches is recommended to be spread evenly over the prepared site.
B. If operating heavy machinery to do so, the machinery should not drive directly upon the prepared area. If it is beyond avoiding, the worker in the machine must be wary of turns that can damage the base.
C. The crushed stone can be a D.O.T. Class 2 aggregate or equivalent, with a maximum particle size of 3⁄4”, or approved equal. We provide Class 2 aggregate in many areas.
D. The crushed stone is then spread evenly, as smoothly as possible. Using a finer material will make it easier to aid in the final grade.
E. For the depth of the base as a general rule, in arid climates such as San Diego, Las Vegas, or San Diego, two inches of base course is plenty. In climates with more rain or a higher water table, such as New Orleans, Houston, or Seattle, up to six inches might be necessary.
F. Gently shower your surface with water and then firmly compact the sub-base using a hand compactor, landscape roller, or vibratory plate compactor.
G. Check for surface depressions. If the base grainy layer is not as smooth as you would like it, or there are unwanted textures, it might be necessary to add a layer of fines (stone dust, screenings manufactured sand, etc.) to fill in the low areas or create a level surface. This layer must be kept to a small depth, ideally no more than two inches. This layer must be pressed with a heavy roller or plate press. Fill in and re-level any base dip that is more than 1/4” deep.
H. Even though turf drains water down through drainage holes that are part of the design, we also suggest giving the base a small slope, away from any buildings, to a proper drainage space to prevent any pooling of any kind.
J. Continuous passes over the installation space are necessary until a compaction rate of 95% or higher is attained. When dry, the installation space needs to be smooth and firm to eliminate unwanted bubbles under the turf.
K. Add your base starting at the opposite side of the lawn. Go from edge to edge, not center to edge. Feather base from load to load. The base layer should be distributed evenly. Grade and level to meet design and drainage requirements. Shape to the appearance you desire—flat, slight roll, mounded.
L. A gas-powered vibrating plate press could be rented for bigger installations. Overlap shipments with the compactor to minimize ridges and bumps.
M. Don’t walk on the freshly installed base until it is compacted. Walking over the loose base will create holes and irregular spots. A simple way to guess proper compaction is to step onto the stone base. If you can leave a footprint, the base is not packed down fully.
5. LAY TURF
A. Lay the synthetic grass out on top of the solid base, as planned. If the site requires multiple roll sizes, be sure to have the lay of the points on each roll of turf running all the same way.
B. When seaming is required, trim the selvedge (un-tufted edge) off the synthetic turf and put in the spot you envision.
C. When cutting selvedge, begin cutting two tuft rows in from the edge in order to achieve proper seam strength.
D. Install the next roll close to the first and repeat Step C. Then push up the seams together.
E. With a carpet or utility knife, trim the overlapped material to match the trimmed boundaries of the first roll if necessary.
F. Make all cuts as accurate as you are able without touching. Seam interval should be no more than 1/8 inch.
G. Repeat as required for as many roll widths as your plan needs.
H. Around the borders, trim the turf to match the sides.
I. If a secured or fastened boundary is what you’re looking for do not secure the edge until almost all of the infill is installed (Refer to Step 8). More on this later.
J. When snipping curved edges, cut in short relief cut increments to match the style.
K. Rough-cut the edge before any seaming.
L. Always stretch artificial turf tight to protect against wrinkling.
A. Crease the adjacent trimmed fringes of two rolls of artificial grass about two feet apart from the whole length of the seam.
B. Identify the centerline of the seam on the exposed base or seaming tape with spray paint, a piece of chalk, etc.
C. Roll out the seam tape exactly over the full length of the seam line. Place adhesive on all of the seam tape from one end to the other. Based on the kind of adhesive you use, you may need to make time for vapors/gases to escape (flashing). Find and refer to the adhesive manufacturer’s instructions. The flashing time needed may depend on the temperature and humidity of the environment.
D. Once adhesive has flashed, put the sides of each roll of synthetic turf directly onto the adhesive/tape, making sure not to bury any turf fibers into the adhesive.
E. You can add weight (i.e. sandbags) down the length of the freshly sewn seam, or use a heavy roller across the seam length once the adhesive has dried. The adhesive drying/curing time will change with different adhesives dependent upon climatic conditions.
F. After the adhesive has set, cut off your turf so your product fits precisely as you need.
7. INFILL INSTALLATION
A. You may also want to stand the turf up vertically with the power broom or stiff bristle broom prior to applying the infill. Do not use steel or wire bristle brooms that can scrape the material. This keeps all of the artificial turf fibers upright and exposed.
B. In synthetic turf applications, a drop spreader (commonly used to spread turf seed, fertilizer, lime, etc.) should be used to scatter the infill in lifts ranging from 1⁄4” to no greater than 1⁄2” depths.
C. Infill must be spread evenly and groomed to make sure a consistent infill level.
D. If the borders or edges are going to be secured, save the infill job for these spots for last (See step 9).
E. Be sure not to lay the infill too quickly on your lawn, this can lead to excessive grooming due to trapped fibers. As you scatter the infill, make one thorough sweep on the top of your new yard and then sweep the infill deeply into the fibers with a firm bristle broom or power broom. Repeat the infill spread/fiber brooming steps until the infill is evenly spread so that at the least 1⁄2” – 3⁄4” of artificial grass fiber ends are exposed above the infill. Repeat this process until all of the infill has been laid out and fallen in between the synthetic turf ends.
F. CAUTION: Having too much of the fiber exposed (not enough infill) will make the fibers mat or damaged with heavy foot traffic. This will lead to excessive wear of the turf and will void the manufacturer’s warranty.
G. There might be more than just one type of infill used for the same product. Oftentimes, a mix of silica sand and granulated rubber, or silica sand and processed sand topdressing, may be used in layers. In any case, the silica sand is laid in first, before the granulated rubber or topdressing.
H. Be sure to heed the site specifications outlining the amount or depth of each infill material.
I. A 50-to-80 ounce product, normally four pounds per square foot can be used. Heavier options may use up to five pounds per square foot. The exact amount of infill will depend on the product weight and the wanted amount of product revealed. When complete, 1⁄2” to 3⁄4” of the artificial grass has to be exposed. You may want to add color-coated sand as the last layer of infill to better match the local geography. As a rule of thumb, you might use a pound per square foot of colored sand.
8. SECURE EDGES
The edges can be installed in many ways:
A. Landscape Nails and Spikes. Simply hit the timber spokes, sod staples, landscape spikes, etc. around the border of the lawn distanced apart every 4”-8”(particularly if you are not going to use an edging or curbing). The nail heads have to be aligned with the synthetic grass backing to keep the material from wrinkling. Afterwards, more trimming could be needed.
B. Nailer Board. When laid out near to an asphalt or concrete curb, a nailer board/synthetic lumber can be helpful (preferably in Step 2, Area Preparation) by nailing the board to the curb with concrete nails. The artificial turf can then be fastened into the top of the already nailer board with a landscape nail. Afterwards, more trimming of the edges of the synthetic grass might be required.
C. Buried Edges. Dig a narrow trough around the perimeter, deep enough to cover the exposed edge of the turf. Fold the turf’s edge into the trench (additional clipping of excess artificial turf may be needed). Nail and backfill the dug up soil against the buried turf, and compact. The edge can then be hidden with straw, mulch, rock, etc.
D. Contingent on your lawn and your installation concepts, you might install trimming around your new yard. Choices are varied and include extruded curbing, 4” x 4” timbers, natural stone, rock, metal, and plastic edging. If you are not going to apply an edging, we recommend you hammer landscaping nails every 4” to 8” along the perimeter of your artificial turf to prevent the edges from lifting.
9. FINISH INFILL AND TOP DRESSING
A. If you had a secure edge installed, it will probably be necessary to add infill around the edge. (Use the technique described in Step 7).