Doing your own installation? Take heed of specific expert advice
If you’ve decided to have artificial grass you may decide to install it yourself. If so, it’s important to assess properly whether you have the time and expertise and, if so, ensure you set about the task the same way a professional installer would.
If you still feel inclined to ‘take the plunge’ and do it yourself, ensure you buy your artificial grass and the supplies you’ll need for installation from experts.
Some tips for an effective installation:
Before you start have a checklist of what you need, ensure you’ve bought all the supplies you’ll require, and that they’ll arrive in time for your designated installation day.
Be thorough in your list making; there’s nothing more annoying than being half way through an installation only to find you’ve forgotten to order joining tape.
Another factor is to order enough consumables; for example, ensure you order plenty of blades for your knife to cut the rolls of grass to size and trim up as blades wear quickly.
Your supplier should have a list of equipment you’ll need but here’s a selection:
- Turf cutter – best way to remove existing turf (plan ahead to hire one)
- Plate compactor – again plan ahead to hire one, this will help you create a level surface for your grass to sit on
- Wheelbarrow – for carting around your sub-base materials
- Stiff broom
- Hammer (claw and club types)
- Spirit level
- Float (as used by plasterers) to smooth off minor irregularities after plate compacting
- Hose (to help compact limestone or granite dust)
- Stanley knife and several spare blades
- Joining tape and adhesive
There’s more, so ensure you talk to your grass supplier to ensure everything you need is ordered or hired in time.
Allow time for the grass to settle
Don’t set an installation day for the day after your rolls of artificial grass arrive; they need to be unrolled and laid on the surface and left to settle.
If allowed to acclimatise, the grass will be easier to position and cut.
Install two weed membranes
It’s a good idea to lay two weed membranes.
The first one is laid on what’s known as the sub-grade – the earth exposed once you’ve removed your real grass. This weed membrane will help prevent weeds deep into the soil from growing up through the layers you’ll put in.
The second weed membrane should be laid just below the grass itself; this will act as a light blocker to inhibit weed growth further.
The best sub-base and laying course
The base for your grass – the layers you put between the surface you’re laying the artificial grass on – is vital to get right:
The sub-base – a minimum of 50-70mm of MOT (Ministry of Transport) Type 1 should be used, but if you suffer from poor drainage 10-12 mm of granite or limestone chipping will help provide a free draining sub base.
The laying course – for the layer that’s directly beneath the artificial grass granite or limestone, dust to a depth of 25mm is preferable to sharp sand.
This may differ from what you’ve been told or otherwise found out about foundations for artificial grass; the weakness with sand is that it can eventually wash away as water passes through the drainage holes in the backing layer above leaving ridges and dips in the grass eventually.
Also, sand can move around under heavier footfalls so makes for a less suitable option for artificial surfaces likely to experience heavy use.
Granite or limestone dust is coarser than sharp sand so the grains will bind together and provide a more secure base. It’s a little more expensive than sand but the extra outlay is well worth it long term.
For the sand infill – the sand usually spread onto the grass – silica sand is preferable to ‘ordinary’ sand for the following reasons:
- Adds ballast to the grass and helps hold it into position
- Improves drainage
- Helps keep the fibres upright for longer (they can be raised again through brushing)
- Improves resistance to fire
Think carefully about self installation
While you can install your grass yourself, when you take into account the need to get it spot on and the various supplies and equipment you’ll need then maybe asking a pro to help out may be worth considering. If you still decide to go ahead; plan carefully and don’t cut corners.