When installing artificial grass, the base isn’t always soil or dirt. Turf can be used in concrete, patios, decks, and pool areas. You can even use them as indoor carpet.
For soil and dirt, you will need a sub-base. The soil in most areas contracts and expands depending on temperature and climate. Artificial grass material was made porous so water can pass through, if your artificial grass sub-base material is not installed properly, it could cause wrinkles and gaps in your turf. Uneven surfaces can create dips in your lawn and cause accidents.
The best sub-base for artificial grass is one that functions like native soil. If artificial grass is installed correctly in your lawn, your turf will last longer!
Drainage is a Must, Artificial Grass doesn’t drain itself.
The quality of your artificial grass relies on the quality of your base. This is because the base for artificial grass acts as drainage. Even top synthetic grass won’t last long in a poor sub-base. The best base for turf is one that can absorb and drain water from the surface!
If your artificial grass does not drain well, water will build on the surface. This can lead to mold, mildew, and in the worst cases: accidents. Spores and bacteria could grow on your turf. The turf’s backing is designed with multiple drainage holes to let water freely pass to the base with no problems. But if it doesn’t lead to a drain or canal or waterway, your lawn could look like one big puddle.
Avoid this by carefully planning your drainage before artificial grass installation. Ensure that rainwater and other liquids (like dog pee) have somewhere to go. Otherwise, fluids will stay on your lawn and breed insects, weeds, other unwanted visitors, and will surely be a pain to deal with later on. Not to mention, it can cause wrinkles in your turf over time.
Before you install your sub-base, you first have to prepare the area. This contains a recap of area preparation. Preparation is key!.
Ground preparation before installing the base material for artificial turf on soil/dirt surfaces:
1. Check for underground hazards
Water pipes and electric lines may be found under the surface of your desired installation area. Cover sprinklers at the pipe level or remove them if you don’t need them anymore. Add required drainage pipes for easy water clear out. Mark the location of unused sprinklers to avoid uneven surfaces.
2. Get rid of weeds
The first thing you do before installing your grass is to kill grassroots and weeds.
Spray the area with a non-toxic weed killer you trust. Do this at least two weeks before your desired installation date. Weed killers need ample time to work. Thoroughly fill your space with weed killers to make sure there’ll be no sign of life on your lawn.
3. Remove the top layer of your soil
To make room for your new base, dig the top layer by three to four inches. Then walk over the area or use a hand tamp to apply pressure to loose soil.
4. Plan your drainage
If you’re installing artificial grass atop well-draining soil, you’ll have little to no problems. This is because synthetic grass drains great. If on top of poorly draining soil, install an efficient drainage system. If your location experiences very light rain, drainage gaps every six inches around the perimeter should be enough.
5. Install a bender board
Map out the perimeter so you have a clean line to separate your turf area from the other components in your lawn using a bender board. Fence it as a guide so your turf won’t crawl out of its designated space.
6. Optional: Install a gopher wire
Roll your gopher wire out on the installation area little by little. Secure the parts by putting u-shaped staples on every few feet so it doesn’t move over time. After completely unrolling, use a wire cutter to trim it down to size.
7. Optional: Install a weed barrier
Layout a geotextile layer at the bottom of the dug-up area. Before the artificial grass base material.
Ground preparation before installing the base material for artificial turf on concrete surfaces:
1. Clean existing concrete
During this step, hose your area thoroughly. Check to see if there are puddles that form. If there are, drill drainage holes. Use a 16mm bit for drilling holes and fill them with 10mm shingle to prevent puddles when it rains.
2. Install free drainage foam/shock pad
Cover your entire area with foam/shock pads. Because concrete is a hard surface, you’ll need the foam/shock pads for support in case anyone falls on the surface. If there are different sections of foam or shock pads (as opposed to a whole roll) tape them together with masking tape. Lift it to one side so you can easily spread the glue.
Mix the glue and hardener. Apply it directly to your surface and scatter. Use about 2-3mm of glue to make sure everything sticks. Work quickly because the glue hardens fast.
Ground preparation before installing the base material for artificial turf on balconies and other hand areas:
1. Measure your area
Use a measuring tape to size up your area.
2. Get your grass
Purchase artificial grass the size of your balcony plus a few inches on every side.
3. Clean the area thoroughly before installing
Sweep debris off. Mop the floor with water and anti-bacterial cleaners or bleach to ensure that it’s spick and span.
4. Plan your drainage
Ensure that you have drainage if your artificial grass is too heavy to clean elsewhere.
Tools needed to install the artificial grass base for soil/dirt surfaces.
2. Artificial Grass sub-base material
3. Type 1 stone / Gravel / Crushed rock / decomposed granite
Depending on your location, your material and depth could vary. Where there are harsh winters like Minnesota or Wisconsin, at least 6-8 inches of the trench is needed to accommodate extreme weather that expands and contracts the grass. areas like Arizona and Nevada already have decomposed granite and crushed rock beneath it, so there is no need to add base materials.
4. Sand (coarse/sharp/concrete)
What sand do you put under artificial grass? Don’t go for fine. Don’t go for builder’s sand either. Sharp sand is coarse and has larger grains and is used for concrete.
5. Hose with water
6. Plate tamper / 2x4 plank and hammer
8. Wheelbarrow (optional)
This can help you transport your sub-base materials quicker all over the area.
9. Plate compactor (optional)
Level your sub-base for artificial grass with the most efficient machine. You can rent this at equipment stores.
10. Sand spreader (optional)
A shovel can be used to lay sand on your area but a sand spreader helps make the job easier!
Installing the base for artificial grass on soil/dirt surfaces
1. Lay your base
Using a wheelbarrow or shovel, scatter your base material. Generally, in places with a mild climate, you can use the following: type 1 stone, gravel, crushed rock, decomposed granite, or any stones or rocks smaller than 3/8 inches as a base. Around 3-4 inches of the base material is needed to improve drainage and avoid slumping.
Mega Tip: Sand for artificial grass is great for easy drainage. Infill for artificial grass is also made of crushed rock. Don’t put excessive sand on your installation area. Too much sand can cause dips when your artificial grass is installed.
2. Add sharp sand
Use a shovel or sand spreader to lay sharp sand 10-15mm thick on the top of your sub-base for it to be firm.
3. Water the whole area
Use your hose and sprinkle the installation space with water. Be sure not to overwater your sub-base because the rocks can get washed away. This can lead to uneven surfaces, not to mention it can put portions of your base to waste.
4. Compact your stones
Use a plate compactor or plate tamper to compact the surface with. For areas with obstructions like trees, use a hand tamper. Or you can lay down a 2x4 plank of wood on the stones and hammer down.
Ideally, the base should be reduced to around 90% of its original depth, it should feel like concrete but retain its ability to drain. Switch back and forth with the compactor or tamper in overlapping directions for best compaction results.
If you have the budget, you can rent or buy a vibratory plate compactor—the most effective and time-saving option. Hand stamps can also be used at an affordable price.
5. Level the entire place
Double check your area for high and low spots, fill or flatten if uneven. Add additional base if needed. Take down high areas with a rake, add base material for low spots.
6. Optional: Add a / another weed barrier.
You can install a weed barrier before and after your sub-base. This is an additional layer of protection to avoid weeds and other pests.
There you have a newly installed base that’ll hold your artificial turf for the years to come.
Installing the base for artificial grass on concrete surfaces:
You don’t need to install a sub-base for concrete surfaces because you won’t be able to dig. But it is highly advised to put foam or shock pads underneath your turf to avoid any injury. Unlike a typical soil sub-base, concrete is hard. Any slips or falls can cause serious problems, to prevent this by having an extra layer of protection and invest in good quality shock pads.
It is also recommended to demolish your concrete surface and follow the sub-base installation for soil instead.
Installing the base for artificial grass on balconies and other hard areas:
No permanent installation is needed for balconies and other small hard floor areas.
You don’t have to worry about searching for installation materials! We have them in our shop! From artificial turf nails to artificial grass infill, you can add them all into your cart and order all at once. For more artificial grass installation tips, check out our full installation guide. Artificial grass installation can be confusing, but we're here to help! If you have any questions, feel free to email us at email@example.com. We also have a dedicated Q&A team in the Q&A section, ready to answer any questions you may have on the same day!
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1. MegaGrass priotizes safety. All of our grass products are 100% lead/latex free.
2. Six specialized grass types to choose from to match your lifestyle.
3. Aesthetic, freshly-trimmed grass year round.
4. Zero maintenance, zero water bills.
5. Eco-friendly, kid-friendly, and pet-friendly grass that’s a cut above the rest.
6. We're the only turf company to offer customized width cuts for your landscaping needs.
MegaGrass is The Grass of the Future. Contact us today to get your free samples! Want to learn more about artificial grass installation? Check out our in-depth guide on how to install artificial grass today.