Have you been considering whether Artificial Grass is worth it? Perhaps you’re looking for a step-by-step guide on how to install DIY artificial grass? If so, you’ve definitely come to the right place! Today we answer both of those questions; by showing you how to install artificial grass – and how to make it worth the cost of installation – by saving you money in the process.
What is Artificial Grass And How Does It Work?
The “grass blades” you see in an artificial lawn – are actually a plastic filament usually made from nylon or another synthetic polymer, woven into a heavy-duty “perforated” rubber mat (much like carpet).
The complete installation of artificial grass also includes a subsurface drainage medium (like sand or gravel) which is first installed and leveled directly below the artificial turf.
When water lands on fake grass, it passes through the filaments and matting and is quickly drained through the medium into the ground soil. This process also prevents water or pet urine from pooling on top of the artificial turf.
Is Artificial Grass Worth It?
Those who have never owned a property with Artificial Grass, may not exactly be aware of what it is, and whether artificial grass is worth the price of installation.
Wondering how much it costs to install fake grass – or how difficult it is to actually install artificial turf yourself? Today we’ll show you the benefits, average cost, and how to install artificial grass DIY so you can easily make that decision for yourself:
Four (4) Benefits of Artificial Grass
1) Artificial Turf – “Saves Water”
While many people benefit from installing a synthetic turf backyard, many homeowners choose synthetic turf to simply cut down and save money on public water usage.
Additionally, if you live in a dry or desert climate, you may have restrictions on public water use, making it difficult to maintain natural grass properly, or at all.
For many of these reasons, Artificial Turf is especially prevalent in the Southwest; where it offers economic relief to homeowners and provides the benefit of water conservation.
2) Artificial Turf – “Saves the Environment”
In addition to using less water, artificial grass doesn’t require chemical fertilizers or pesticides. If you’re concerned about your lawn’s environmental impact, a synthetic alternative may be the right choice for you.
In a nutshell, synthetic grass will always have a lower environmental impact than natural grass, making it the right solution for the eco-conscious homeowner.
3) Artificial Turf – “Prevents Pet Damage”
Outside of environmental considerations, many homeowners also choose artificial lawns to keep their dogs from damaging their yards.
As any dog owner knows, dog urine can easily damage natural grass. Fake grass for dogs is a great solution that will prevent your family pet from ruining the lawn, especially if you live in a dry area – where watering grass enough to counteract the pet urine isn’t a viable option.
4) Artificial Turf – “Saves Time On Lawn Maintenance”:
Finally, artificial grass is an excellent option for anyone who just doesn’t have, or appreciate, the time lawn maintenance requires. While we’re a bit obsessive about lawn care here at Best Home Gear – we understand some people would prefer a root canal – to spending their weekend working on a lawn 🙂
If you fall into this category, installing a maintenance-free fake grass lawn will help you get out of everything from fertilizing, to watering, mowing, trimming, and blowing!
So, whether you’re using artificial grass for dogs, trying to cut down on your environmental impact, or just don’t like routine lawn maintenance, there are many different reasons why you might want to consider switching to an artificial lawn.
How Much Does Artificial Grass Cost?
Initially, it’s easy to get scared off by the cost of artificial grass. With prices ranging from $5 to as much as $15 per square foot, fake grass can have a relatively high up-front cost.
The Good News – Typical Artificial Turf installations are very location-specific (small backyards, seating areas, etc.) and usually run on average between 100 – 1,000 square feet of installed lawn.
The amount you’ll pay, of course, will depend on the grade of turf material you choose, the drainage medium you select (granite vs. sand), the amount of labor it takes to install turf in your yard, and the overall price range for the area you happen to live.
To get a rough idea of what you’ll pay, you can refer to this artificial grass cost comparison chart – but on average you will pay approximately $7.00/SF to have a medium grade artificial turf lawn installed professionally.
Artificial Grass Material Costs
Obviously, if you DIY – you simply buy the materials yourself – and all labor costs are waived.
For Instance, the highly-rated Greenline Sapphire Fescue 50 Turf Grass from Home Depot – is less than $2.50/SF for the Artificial Grass material.
Before you decide that artificial lawn cost isn’t for you, let’s also stop and consider how it stacks up against owning and maintaining natural grass lawns.
On average, you can expect to pay about 25 to 50 cents per square foot for natural grass sod, which looks like a much better price option – on the surface.
The better consideration, however, is to look at the Lifetime Cost of each type of lawn.
Natural Lawn Maintenance Costs
After you lay down a natural (sod) lawn, you’ll still have to pay for herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, and water, the cost and maintenance of a lawnmower, and extra grass seed for occasional reseeding.
Unlike the installation of fake grass, with natural grass, these aren’t one-time expenses. Instead, they are costs you will expect to pay year after year.
Artificial Grass Saves Time & Money
Since a synthetic lawn can last as long as 25 years before it needs replacing, it will usually pay for itself in seven years or less, and last another 15 years – after the break-even price has been realized.
When you factor in both the cost and the time savings that come with not having to maintain a regular lawn, you’ll come out significantly ahead on artificial grass.
Before you start asking “how much astroturf lawns cost” – stop and consider how much you’re already spending to maintain your lawn each year.
Once you crunch the numbers, you may be surprised by the annual costs of maintaining a natural grass lawn. Let’s take a look at the numbers below:
Artificial Grass vs. Natural Grass: Maintenance Differences
Initial Cost – Artificial vs. Grass Lawn
- Artificial grass represents a substantial upfront initial investment for most homeowners – with prices ranging between $5 and $15 per square foot, installed. $7.00/ per square foot is the average cost. However, once artificial grass is installed, artificial lawn ownership is virtually free for up to 25 years.
- Natural Grass only costs about $.30 cents per square foot. But that’s only the beginning. The maintenance cost of and existing grass lawn requires Water, trimming, mowing and blowing, and seasonal fertilizing to keep it looking lush and weed-free.
- Your Time: Place and value on Your labor. The time you spend every year to provide the above lawn maintenance can be up to 100 hours per season, which is very significant.
1,000 Square Foot Lawn – Cost Comparison Example:
For comparison, let’s look at the example of installing and maintaining a 1,000 square foot “Artificial Turf lawn vs. Natural Grass” Lawn:
- Natural Grass (Sod not Grass seed) @ $.40 cents/SF = $400
- Artificial Turf (Complete Installation) – National Avg. @ $7/SF = $7,000
Maintenance Cost (Annual)
Natural Grass Lawn Maintenance:
- Lawn Contract – $120/month x 6 months = $720*
- Seasonal Fertilizer (4 times/annually) – (by homeowner) = $150
- Watering ($20/mo. avg. 1200 gal.) x 6 months = $120**
- Natural Grass Maintenance – Annual Cost = $990.00
* Professional Lawn Contract average. You could additionally calculate the cost of your lawn maintenance, including mower equipment, maintenance/replacement, fuel, etc. to perform work yourself.
** Water – Estimate does not include the cost for irrigation system maintenance/repairs.
Artificial Grass Lawn Maintenance:
- Occasional spot watering = $20.00
- Artificial Turf Deodorizer Treatment (For pet owners) = $30.00
Summary: Investment and Maintenance Costs
The break-even cost of installing Artificial Grass (Initial Investment) vs. Natural Sod is approximately seven (7) years.
Maintenance Cost: (over 20 years)
Artificial Grass vs. Natural Grass – after the Initial 7 year investment (Years 8 through 20) you save approximately $900/year (or) an $11,700 savings over the next 12 years.
As we said, It takes roughly seven (7) years or less to break even on the cost of Artificial Grass installation. So, If you plan to stay in your home for seven years or more, it may be worth the initial investment, just on cost alone.
However, If you plan on staying longer, or your home market considers the investment in artificial grass an improvement and selling point for future buyers, it is definitely worth considering.
- Installing Artificial Turf yourself (DIY) without hiring a professional – will significantly reduce the initial investment below the figures noted above. And NO Weeds to remove.
- On average, homeowners save 16 hours/month or 96 hours/season – of lawn maintenance labor over a regular six-month season.
- 16 hours a month to do “other things” – is Priceless.
- You save money by using Grass Seed vs. Sod – But the germination period is 20-30 days to grow grass from seed.
- Artificial grass can be installed in 2-3 days
DIY Artificial Grass – Getting Started:
You don’t need to know how to build – To learn how to Install an Artificial Lawn. Once you’ve decided to make the switch to artificial turf, just start planning your new synthetic grass installation – and you’re on your way.
We Recommend This Quick Video from Ewing Landscape Supply – “How to Install Synthetic Turf”
How to Lay Artificial Grass:
So, you’ve decided that an artificial lawn is a perfect choice for you, but the price seems a bit high. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to bring that cost down: It’s called the DIY (Do it Yourself) Method.
Step 1: Order The Supplies
Before your turf lawn base material is installed, be sure to get all of the materials ready for the complete installation. First, measure and determine the total square footage of the Artificial Lawn you will install.
The materials you will need for this project are:
- Crushed Miscellaneous Base (CMB) or Decomposed Granite (DG) (2-3″ deep)
- Artificial Turf (sold online at SGW – or Ewing Landscape Supply, and at your local big-box home improvement store)
- Carpet Seam tape (for all joints)
- Adhesive and Large Caulk Gun
- Spray water bottle (to activate carpet tape adhesive)
- Hammer & Nails
- Tape measure
- Infill material
- Power broom or synthetic turf rake
Step 2: Install Base Layer
- Before you can install your lawn, you need to establish what type of base layer (medium) you will install under the artificial turf.
- Typically, you’ll install 2-3 inches of what is called “landscaping decomposed granite”.
- While there’s some debate as to the best base (medium) for artificial grass, this fine, chipped granite usually delivers the best drainage at a reasonable cost while relatively easy to put in.
- Be sure to compact and level the granite medium, since it will need to be level when you install the actual turf. Hint: Rent a dirt compactor.
Step 3: Sketch Layout Before You Cut Artificial Turf
- Before you begin, it’s a good idea to sketch out the layout of your turf. The final design of the project will depend on the width of the turf roll you are using. In other words, the size and shape of the area your planning to install.
- In this sense, laying artificial grass is a lot like installing carpet flooring.
Step 4: Unroll the Artificial Grass
- Before you start installing the turf, roll it out flat onto a clean, dry surface. Once it’s rolled out, the artificial turf must rest flat and warm-up for a minimum of six hours.
- During this time, it’s essential to keep the artificial turf flat, since you want it to lay flat when it’s time to install it.
- A flat and clean driveway, especially one with good sun exposure, works very well for this purpose.
Step 5: Seam The Artificial Grass
- The next step in how to install artificial turf is to lay out the cut pieces according to your plan and seam the edges together.
- Seaming is where the seam tape comes into play. Be sure to line up your seams as carefully as possible before starting this step, since this will help make the turf look a bit more natural and wrinkle-free when finished.
- To seam the pieces together, roll out the seam tape to the length you need and cut it into appropriate sections.
- Then, roll back one side of the seam and place the seam tape underneath. You can then mark the tape with a pencil or marker where the line between the two pieces will be.
- Next, roll both sides of the turf away from the tape and apply your adhesive. Carefully lay the pieces of turn down onto the tape, being sure to bring them together where you’ve marked the tape so that they fit correctly.
- Keep in mind that the adhesive used for seam tape requires a light misting of water to activate it, so you’ll need a spray bottle filled with water for this project.
Step 6: Fasten Artificial Grass In Place
- Laying artificial turf requires more to hold it in place than just seam tape.
- To fasten it to the medium underneath, you’ll use 6-inch nails all-around the artificial turf perimeter.
- Space the nails about 12 inches apart in low-traffic areas and 8 inches apart in areas where you and your family will be walking regularly.
- Be sure to have all of your final cuts made, and all trimming completed before you nail the turf down, since you won’t be able to move it easily after this step.
Step 7: Spread The “Infill Material”
- Your final step in installing artificial grass yourself is to spread an infill material to make your synthetic lawn look more natural.
- Infill is a green-colored substrate material that helps the “blades” of your fake grass stand up like real grass, and also maintains pressure on the turf by weighing it down.
- Applying infill is the final step that will give your fake lawn the look of real grass.
- To apply infill, you can either use a garden drop spreader or simply spread it by hand.
- Once the infill is distributed over the turf, you’ll need to spread it out evenly to get the right look.
- The best way to do this is with a power broom, but you can get away by using a regular hand broom or a synthetic turf rake.
- Be sure to spread the infill evenly, since you want it to cover the entire turf rather than ending up in thick piles.
With these Seven Steps, you now know how to install artificial grass yourself, and how to save substantial money on labor costs.
Keep in mind that every yard is a bit different, so you’ll have to adapt this necessary process to fit your situation and property configuration.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How Much Does It Cost To Have Artificial Grass Installed Professionally?
On average – professional synthetic turf installation (labor only) will run between $2.00 – $3.00/SF. Costs will vary in your area, and the labor average shown above is for turf material only.
Additionally, to hire labor to install the medium – gravel base, ahead of the turf installation, could cost an additional $1.00 – $2.00/SF.
How Do You Install Artificial Grass for Dogs?
As mentioned earlier, one of the primary reasons many homeowners install astroturf – is to keep their lawn from being ruined by dog urine.
In areas where you can’t water frequently enough to prevent damage, this is especially important.
The necessary steps described above will allow you to lay down artificial grass that your dog won’t be able to damage.
However, If you’re going to install fake grass for pet protection, it’s good to buy a pet-friendly synthetic turf. These products are designed for better drainage and to withstand the wear and tear a dog can put on the turf.
How Do You Clean Dog Urine On Fake Grass?
Pet urine is naturally drained through the perforated holes in artificial turf and evacuated through the coarse ground layer below.
if you don’t get regular rain showers in your area, a simple watering of the pet area turf with a garden hose or sprinkler is normally sufficient to clean it.
In addition to selecting the correct blend of Artificial Grass for dogs, pet urine can leave odors if not attended to regularly. For this reason, always have on hand a dog urine deodorizer for artificial turfs Such as this one from Simple Green at Amazon, which is applied with a garden hose attachment sprayer.
How Do You Install Artificial Grass on Concrete?
The steps listed above for DIY artificial grass installation assume that you’re installing the grass over dirt.
However, If you’re installing artificial grass on top of concrete, there are extra steps you’ll have to complete before you can start the installation:
Follow These (2) Steps To Install Artificial Grass over Concrete:
- Step 1: First, you’ll need to check the drainage. If your concrete surface drains well because it is on a slope, you should be okay. However, If water tends to pool on the concrete slab, you’ll need to drill some small 1/4″ drainage holes in the concrete to keep water from pooling underneath the artificial grass.
- Space the 1/4″ holes in concrete randomly – and specifically in the low area where water is “pooling”.
- Step 2: For safety reasons; install a waterproof foam underlayment beneath your turf. It’s easy to find, as most flooring contractors use a similar material under wood flooring installations.
- A foam layer will help cushion against falls, and could reduce the likelihood of injury, should a fall occur on artificial grass on concrete.
With the above information, we hope that you now know – how to install artificial grass in your yard.
DIY artificial grass is a great home improvement project for people looking to reduce their ecological impact, make their yard more pet-friendly, or just reduce the amount of work they have to invest in maintaining their lawns.
While synthetic grass isn’t for everyone, we think it’s a great long-term economical option that is definitely worth considering.
Best of all, installing Artificial Turf is a relatively simple process that you can do with just a bit of know-how, a few pieces of basic equipment, and a few sets of extra hands to help you out!
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Additional Reading and References: