Originally installed on athletic fields and putting greens, homeowners frequently install artificial turf on their homes as a grass alternative. It’s nice-looking, offers a level playing surface for kids, resists pests, weathering, and tearing, and doesn’t dry out or become waterlogged.
Despite artificial turf’s numerous benefits, its installation may present the biggest ordeal. It involves a multi-step process, including preparing the base, installing, infilling, and grooming the turf. Some leave this job to professional installers, but it’s always good to understand what goes into the preparation stage before laying turf.
Why Does the Lawn Need to Be Prepped for Artificial Turf?
Many assume they can just lay artificial turf over any existing surface and secure it, but it involves much more. Because with a poorly prepared foundation layer, you risk your turf sinking in spots, edges uplifting, and wrinkles or bumps forming. Bugs like moles and gophers will also ruin your installation if it lacks a firm base. Moreover, weeds will thrive in the absence of a well-compacted foundation layer.
Prepping your lawn for artificial turf helps prevent such issues and ensures it looks and performs its best over time.
How to Prepare Your Lawn for Artificial Turf
The following steps will help get your lawn ready for artificial turf installation.
1. Decide What You Want the Final Form of the Project to Appear
The process entails measuring the space where you’ll lay the turf and deciding the boundaries and any obstacles you want in the final project.
After you ascertain the square footage, you can estimate how much artificial turf you’ll need to purchase for your project.
2. Clear the Ground
Your turf suffers from weeds, grass, or any other plant growth. It can penetrate the layers and harm everything. It also looks awful to have natural vegetation inside the turf. The first step to preventing this and getting your lawn ready for turf installation is clearing it of vegetation.
If there are plants you like, consider transplanting them to a different spot away from the turf. For anything else, herbicides will simplify everything. Since you don’t intend to grow plants where the turf is, you can use the strong stuff. Kill the plants and rip them out of the ground.
3. Plan Your Drainage
Managing drainage is the second most crucial factor in preparing the ground before turf installation. If you intend to lay artificial turf on top of a well-draining base, you’ll have little to no problems. If atop poorly draining soil, you will likely experience many issues when it rains.
To address this challenge, you want to dig and install sufficient drainage. Numerous drainage options are available, but you are good to go as long as pooling isn’t an issue before turf installation.
4. Lay the Base
You’ve cleared the ground and resolved drainage. The next step is to create a level pad for synthetic grass installation. To achieve that, remove about three inches of topsoil from the installation area and replace it with crushed rock, gravel, or sand. This infill constitutes the turf base. Use additional filler to return the base filler to the original level. Pack it again, and repeat the procedure to create a solid base leveling with the ground.
It should result in a solid, level base that can bear a good amount of water absorption and prevent the growth of weeds. It also guarantees that the artificial turf will be comfortable to walk on and won’t shift over time.
5. Level Out the Surface
After you’ve spread the base material, use a roller or a flattening tool to make the area as level and smooth as possible. It ensures the surface is free of any lumps, stones, or bumps that may make your lawn uneven later on and challenging to deal with after installing your new turf. This preparation will simplify the installation process, aid drainage, and make your lawn appealing.
6. Lightly Wet the Surface and Tamp it Down
All work on the base material and dry soil should be complete when you reach this stage. And to prevent movement of the base and ground material underneath the artificial turf, sprinkle water from the garden hose on the sand or gravel to lubricate the particles for compaction.
The base will compact to a 90 percent depth than its original size. You can even use a hand tamp, a plate compactor, or a roller compactor for further compaction.
7. Stop Weeds
Although the base makes it difficult for weed seeds to germinate, it’s still possible. You want a high-quality weed barrier to cover the bottom. The existence of multiple layers of weed protection makes it nearly impossible for weeds to penetrate everything.
First, the base already separates seeds from the soil they require to grow with by few inches of rock. The weed barrier then keeps sunlight from reaching the bottom, stopping germination before it can start. Plus, it creates a layer that prevents seeds from reaching the soil. The turf above the weed barrier will be the third defense level; those three layers are typically sufficient.
8. Install Artificial Turf
After straightening out everything, the only thing that remains is to install your new artificial grass. Cut your turf into the right size, properly align it, and nail it down in all corners. Just like that, your new lawn is ready.
If preparing your lawn for artificial turf installation is a challenge, it’s best to get help from a professional to complete the preparation process well. By hiring the best turf installation company for your project, you can rest assured of a firm, durable base that will accommodate your artificial turf for many years without any issues or concerns. It’s cost-effective and saves time.