Synthetic Lawn Installation Guide

Here are the proper steps to install a synthetic lawn for your home:

1. Excavating: Standard operating procedure for the installation of a residential synthetic lawn is to first excavate the area to a depth of 3 ½ to 4 inches. If there is a irrigation system in the way, most companies will cap it off or redirect your water for free. Removing the soil should also be part of the installation cost. If you do not need any excavation, a per square foot price reduction should apply.

2. Install Bender Board: The top bender board is manufactured completely from recycled materials. The board should be waterproof and won’t split, chip or rot. It should measure 3 ½ by 1½, not 3 ½ by ¾. Installing the plastic bender board around the entire perimeter is the best way to go about it. This provides a secure edge for the installers to staple the grass to. The synthetic grass installation team should use galvanized staples placed at three inch intervals.

Some synthetic grass installers will only put bender board where there are no existing concrete borders, such as the soft landscape areas that border flower beds. However, this does not ensure that tripping hazards will not evolve or that bugs and insects will not burrow under the edges that are without bender board. This short-cut may save their company time and money but it is not best practice.

Some installers will use wooden stakes to secure the bender board. This is fine when the bender board is up against concrete boarders such as driveways and sidewalks because ultimately it will be pinned in place between the compacted substrate and existing concrete. However, wood is a material that will rot. Therefore, you should make sure that the installation team use plastic stakes, not wooden stakes, out in the soft landscape areas, otherwise, the wooden stakes will rot over time and the bender board may capsize and destroy your synthetic lawn.

Most companies guarantee their installation for five years. It may take five years plus for the wooden stakes to rot and you could end up paying for the repairs yourself. Again, the bender board and stakes should be part of the installation cost.

3. Install Substrate: Most companies will use crushed granite, which will be deposited, raked out and compacted to 100% compaction. The granite will provide excellent drainage for your lawn. The crushed granite should be installed in such a way that there is a slight crown in the middle which ensures proper water run-off. Some companies use two inches or more of base rock and top it off with decomposed granite. In fact, this is how pathways in parks are constructed.

The problem with this method is that the decomposing granite continues to harden over time. Artificial grass installed over decomposed granite feels like a carpet set over pavement. The crushed granite remains firm but never hardens, which results in a more natural feel. Crushed granite is an expensive material, which is why so few companies use it.

4. Synthetic Grass: Let’s begin with some basic info on the synthetic grass itself. Synthetic lawns are basically large carpeted areas. In fact, there are only seven manufacturers of synthetic lawns in the United States and six of them are located in Dalton, Georgia, (the carpet capital of the United States).

The synthetic grass comes in 15′ rolls and has a variety of backings. The best backing is made from polyolefin. It is also know as Duroflo. It has a number of advantages over the more commonly used urethane backings: it is completely permeable throughout, rather than relying on holes punched into the backing for drainage, which can become clogged. It also functions as a weed barrier, which the hole punch variety can not guarantee. Finally, the backing and grass fibers are 100% recyclable. Synthetic turf using urethane backings are not.

5. Synthetic Lawn Installation: The installers will roll out the synthetic lawn and install it with some of the same tools that a carpet layer uses. They will custom cut and fit the lawn to the designated areas as they go using carpet knifes and carpet kickers. The perimeter will be stapled in place with pneumatic staple guns and galvanized staples. The area in the middle, known as the field, will be anchored in place with six inch galvanized foundation spikes placed at one foot centers.

Some companies use u-shaped ground hooks to anchor the grass down. These wire u-hooks are most commonly used to hold drip system tubing in place. They are easy to put in but unfortunately they also come out easily. They are very thin and they are not galvanized so consequently they will rust away over time. They will not last for the lifetime of your lawn. Companies use them because they cost about three cents a piece which is about ten percent of the cost of the foundation spikes.

6. Blooming: Once the lawn is in place, the installers will use power brooms to ‘bloom’ the fibers to get them to stand up straight. If you have purchased a no-fill product, this is the final step. If not, the installers will fill in between the blades with sand and a top coat of rubber granules made from recycled tires.

A word about infill: it can be messy. It gets in your shoes and if you have kids, it will get in their shoes and clothes. If you have any pets, it will get their paws. Water and wind move it around. It migrates. The reason no-fill products don’t need it is because that have more blades per square inch and they also have an additional thatch layer which lives between the backing and about half way up the length of the blades.

Once your lawn is installed, the only tools you will need to maintain it is a nylon rake, which the synthetic grass company should provide, and a leaf blower.

7. How to Pick Your Synthetic Grass Company: Hopefully this guide has given you a bit of a head start in picking your synthetic lawn company. One of the top synthetic lawn installation companies is one lawn who has a long standing expertise in providing the best materials and practices in synthetic lawn installation.

Good Luck!