Planning and taking your time to perform a sound DIY job on your new surface
If you’re contemplating laying your own artificial grass as opposed to asking a specialist to supply and install it for you, then assuming you’re up to a few DIY tasks and are prepared to plan properly and not rush the process then it’s definitely doable.
The incentive is certainly there: once you’ve successfully installed your new artificial surface then you can look forward to many years of a virtually maintenance free lawn. It’s certainly becoming established as a viable alternative to real grass – as long ago as 2010 the renowned Chelsea Flower Show allowed exhibits featuring artificial grass.
Before you start
Proper and planned assessment of what you require to do the job and properly blocking off the time to take over it – not trying to cram it into a spare afternoon – will pay dividends.
Step 1 – make an inventory of what you’ll require to complete the job both in terms of materials for the installation and the tools and equipment needed to do the job.
An inventory of tools and equipment could run as follows:
- Weed membrane
- Sharp sand (or granite dust)
- Artificial grass fixing strips
- Ground pins
- Joint adhesive
- Join tape
Tools and other equipment:
- Mastic gun (to apply adhesive)
- Trimming knife and replacement blades
- Spade, rake and stiff broom
- Vibrating plate (may be required for levelling)
Step 2 – find a reputable artificial grass supplier who can supply not only the grass but ideally the rest of the associated materials and tools for the installation such as adhesives, tape, trimming knives and so on.
Ensure they can supply everything in time for the designated days you’re intending to undertake the work – whatever you do don’t be tempted to make a start without everything you require being in place.
Based on the supplier’s delivery lead times, order the grass and everything you need in good time.
Step 3 – calculate accurately how much artificial grass you’ll require and assess where joins might occur. This may inform how you order your grass; for example, it usually comes in rolls of two or four metres wide in lengths up to 25 feet, so width in particular may influence where joins will be positioned on your new lawn.
Ideally, plan it so they don’t occur too near to edges. Most online suppliers will have a calculation tool on their website to help you work out your requirements.
Even when you’ve completed this task, double check you’ve got it right before ordering and allow for some excess – it’s easy enough to trim up overhanging edges rather than hoping a length of grass will make it to the border.
Step 4 – ascertain if your new surface will border a pathway or similar; if so, ensure you order some specialist artificial grass fixing strips (listed on inventory above) to create a clean and neat border.
Step 5 – begin the installation – but double check before starting work everything you require for the whole installation is to hand.
Existing surface – whether it’s real grass, soil or general rough ground remove the top layer to a depth of about 120mm and level if off. You may need to hire a vibrating plate if areas require more extreme levelling.
Don’t rush this stage; your new surface will need an accurately levelled surface to be as effective as possible.
Install fixing strips – if you’re using edging strips for bordering, you’ll install them at this point. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Create the base layer – you’ll use your sharp sand or granite dust to create a layer of around 40mm depth. Ensure it’s level and smooth it off using a length of wood in a widescreen wiper-like motion across the whole surface.
Install the weed membrane – lay over the base layer carefully; the weed membrane will inhibit weed growth and aid effective draining.
Laying the grass – make certain each roll of artificial grass is running in the same direction and double check where any joins will be positioned.
- Lay the grass in position but don’t fix it down yet; leave ideally for a day to settle properly.
- One day later join the lengths of grass with backing tape and adhesive. Don’t rush; the better your joins are the better your new surface will look.
- Trim the excess grass to length using the edging knife; replace the blade frequently to ensure incisive, clean cutting and to avoid ‘ragged’ cuts through using a blunt blade.
- Finally, knock the ground pins in near the edges at intervals of around 200mm to fix the grass into its final position.
Take your time
Along with preparation, it’s worth stressing again the need to take your time over the installation process from start to finish. From ensuring you have all the materials and equipment to hand to allowing enough time to complete the process, taking ample time will help ensure each step is undertaken carefully and thoroughly.
Your new surface will look and perform better over a longer period with the right initial care and attention to detail.