Artificial Grass Installation Guide

A typical residential artificial grass installation can be completed in 1 to 2 days with the proper tools, manpower and knowledge. If you are a handy-person and want to learn how to install artificial grass on your own we will go over everything you need to know to go from dirt to a luxurious synthetic turf lawn. Keep in mind that you may need help with various tasks along the way including lifting and moving the turf or glueing the seems together which we will discuss in the step by step installation guide below. 

artificial grass installation

If you are reading this page you are likely intrigued by the idea of enjoying artificial grass in your front lawn, backyard or even around an existing pool or garden area. You most likely have a few questions about the installation process including cost, timeframe and what's required. We do recommend hiring an artificial grass installation professional for areas larger than 100-200 square feet. If you are a handy DIY homeowner that loves tackling everything under the sun, you have access to specialized equipment and you are up for the challenge this artificial grass installation guide is for you. 

The following details of the entire installation procedure has enough information for anyone considering artificial grass for their home or business. If you are a contractor or work in the landscaping industry you will the find the steps below to be detailed enough to give you a really good idea of what it takes to install turf at the professional level. We've included the average quote price based on square footage, keeping in mind that this will vary depending on unique variable in your location and is only a guideline. Learn more about the cost of artificial grass and how it can save you money in the long run. 





What do I need to Install Artificial Grass?

The following list of supplies required for a typical artificial grass installation will enable you to create a stunning new synthetic lawn area. If you are installing turf on a balcony, deck, concrete or even on a wall there are specific instructions that should be followed. 


Artificial Grass Installation Accessories

The following artificial grass installation accessories are required for a proper install. They are mostly specific to the artificial grass industry and can be purchased either from an artificial grass installation company, landscape supply and some local hardware stores. These accessories fall into the consumable category which means they will get used during each installation and will need to be replenished if you complete multiple installations depending on usage and the size of the installation job. 

  • Artificial grass turf
  • Gravel mixture
  • Seam tape or cloth
  • Seam glue
  • Infill
  • Nails; galvanized
  • Edging board
  • Weed barrier cloth
  • Stakes
  • Screws 


Artificial Grass Installation Tools

These artificial grass installation power tools are worth every penny spent when completing most jobs. The larger the grass area the more important these helpful tools become and the more time and money you will save by using them, especially if you are paying labourers to complete the installation. If you are completing a single installation for yourself you should consider renting the tools form a local tool rental shop if available. If you are a professional contractor or landscaper you might want to consider purchasing the following tools. 

  • Vibration plate compactor
  • Blower; backpack or handheld
  • Bristle brush power broom
  • Sod cutter
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Power drill

Artificial Grass Installation Equipment

The following artificial grass installation equipment will be required throughout the entire installation procedure. While some of the items will be found in most garages and sheds, there are a few items that are industry specific. If your existing lawn or garden area had irrigation lines and sprinkler heads installed you will most likely want to cap them with the appropriate irrigation equipment. The only reason you would not cap them is if you still want to get use out of them to water an adjacent plant, tree or garden. 

  • Hammer
  • Measuring tape
  • Rake; regular 14"
  • Rake; aluminum 24 - 36"
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Shovels
  • Push broom
  • Garden hose
  • Turf cart
  • Hand tamper
  • Broadcast spreader
  • Utility bladed knife
  • Carpet cutter
  • Carpet kickers
  • Carpet pullers
  • Duckbill shears

How to Install Artificial Grass

Lets get into how to install artificial grass using the list of tools and accessories above. If you've put the time into getting everything in order including picking out your favourite turf you are probably anxious to get started. We recommend allowing for more time than you think it will take and always double check your work before moving onto the next step. There is no going back in most cases, once the turf is laid, glued and sanded it is very difficult to move so you want to get it right the first time. 

10 Step Artificial Grass Installation Guide

The following 10 step artificial grass installation instructions will take you through every aspect of the professional installation process. We highly recommend reading through all the steps first before starting. If there are any steps that you aren't comfortable completing on your own we suggest hiring a professional artificial grass installer that has the knowledge and specialized tools.

  1. Excavate Area
  2. Install Edging
  3. Install Base
  4. Prepare Base  
  5. Place Turf
  6. Trim Turf
  7. Glue Seams  
  8. Secure Turf
  9. Apply Infill 
  10. Groom Turf

Excavate Area

The very first step is to assess the area where you will be laying artificial grass. If you are replacing an existing lawn this process will be a lot easier than if you are changing the landscape elevation or adding features like a walkway or container garden. The goal is to remove grass and organics including weeds, roots and rocks down to 3-4" or 8-10 cm below the grade where you want the turf to lay.

Use caution when digging especially if you suspect there are shallow irrigation lines. If you plan on using the irrigation for adjacent plants or garden you need to pay special attention to avoid them. If the lines have been cleared and won't be used, you can remove them if necessary. We recommend checking with your local, provincial or Canadian DigSafe provider before doing any digging if you suspect there is any risk of coming across power lines. 

Required: wheelbarrow, shovel, rake, measuring tape
Optional: sod cutter

Install Landscape Edging

This step is required if you don't have an existing hard edge to work with like a concrete walkway, composite or brick pavers or a synthetic bendable landscape edge. We recommend installing new landscape edging to create a nice clean border around your lawn if needed. In addition to a nice clean edge to run the turf up to, it helps hold the turf in place and keeps rocks or mulch from creeping onto the lawn. 

Required: edging board, stakes, screws, drill, reciprocating saw, hammer, measuring tape, rake, shovel

Install Sub Base 

Installing the base is one of the most labour intensive steps in the artificial grass instillation process. If you are installing a base for an area larger than 200 square feet we recommend getting at least a couple friends to help especially if you are moving material up hill. This step requires a bit of math to determine roughly how much material you need to build an adequate base. Assuming we are aiming for the recommended 3 inch base in a 500 square foot, we need about 5 cubic yards of base material. 

Every 100 square feet of area to be covered by artificial grass requires roughly 1 cubic yard of base material to achieve a 3 inch depth.

The material you use for your base layer can vary depending on the requirements in your area. The main purpose of the base layer is to allow for adequate drainage as water seeps through the turf and sand infill layer. If you experience heavy rain and snow you should use a porous gravel and sand mixture. The size of the gravel should be between 1/2-3/4", a jagged rock is better than round rock.

Required: gravel mixture, wheelbarrow, shovel, rake
Optional: weed barrier cloth

Prepare Sub Base Layer

This step requires a keen eye and a bit of patience as you work the gravel mixture to create the shape of the future lawn. The turf will hide some minor imperfections in elevation but obvious high and low areas will be visible after the turf is installed. If you are installing for a customer we recommend talking with them to find out what they prefer before installing the artificial grass. We have found that some customers prefer a level surface with a very slight crown versus natural elevation changes. 

It's ideal to have someone raking and spreading the gravel and directing where the gravel is deposited as it's wheeled into the area. Spreading the gravel as you go helps provide an accurate assessment of how much material is needed. The base should be raked out until the desired contours are achieved before applying the compactor. Did you know that concrete is a great sub layer for artificial grass? Learn more about installing artificial grass on concrete

The plate compactor is the final step to preparing the base and it has a very important role. The compactor gives the base its final shape that needs to stand up to years of foot traffic and wear. The ideal process is to soak the gravel with water from a garden hose to the point just before water starts to pool on the surface. The gravel and sand mixture will pack very tightly if its kept wet during the compaction process. In addition to creating a solid base it also serves as a better backing for the nails that secure the turf. 

Required: vibration plate compactor, wheelbarrow, shovels, rake, landscaping rake, garden hose
Optional: hand tamper 


Place Artificial Grass Turf 

Depending on the size of your turf rolls you may need to use a dolly or cart designed to carry long rolls of heavy turf. Turf rolls can weight over 1000 pounds and can be very tough to navigate through walkways and up or down hillsides. It goes without saying that you should have help with this step of the artificial grass installation if you are moving large rolls to a hard to reach area. An option worth considering is to cut the turf into manageable pieces before transporting. 

The turf should be placed carefully to avoid disrupting the base layer. You may need to spot pack some areas with the hand tamper if any areas are disturbed during this part of the process. It's very easy to disturb the base and dislodge rocks that can be both felt and seen if they aren't remedied. 

The turf will have a very distinct grain direction and you should make sure that if you are piecing multiple sections of turf together that the grain direction matches. The grain direction should face the direction that is most visible. A front yard artificial grass installation should face towards the road as a general rule of thumb and a backyard installation should face the house. 

Required: artificial grass, turf cart

Trim Turf to Size

The seams should be lined up and trimmed first. A general rule is to leave a 1/4-1/8" gap between the gauge rows or mimic the existing gauge rows of the turf you are using. You will need to play with it a bit to see what gap is best, and will vary with different types of turf. The seam should be barely visible when you fluff it up with your hand as you work along the seem. 

After you have the seams lined up it's time to trim it down to size. Start by trimming the outside edge along the edger board, existing concrete walkway, deck, etc. A sharp utility blade is ideal for this and can be done by cutting carefully from the back of the turf while pulling up on the turf as you go. You want to aim for a 1/4-1/8" gap between the turf and edging as a general rule, keeping in mind that the side where the turf falls away from the gap requires special attention as this will be the most visible.

At this stage it's a good idea to secure any outer edge area that isn't going to receive glue. The sooner you get the turf secure the better especially if it required extensive stretching to get rid of ripples. As you work along the edges, use the carpet kicker to keep the turf stretched. Use galvanized nails every 12-18" around the perimeter, about a 1/2-1" in from the outer edge of the turf. In high traffic areas we recommend using nails ever 6-12" to ensure that the turf stays secure. 

Required: nails, hammer, measuring tape, utility blade knife, carpet cutter, carpet kicker, duckbill scissors
Optional: carpet pullers

Glue Seams

Gluing the seams is the least forgiving stage of the artificial grass installation process and can cause a lot of headaches. Turf should only be glued when you are 100% confident in the turf placement and seam invisibility. It's a good idea to do a final check of the seam to make sure it's nearly invisible along the entire length of the seam. 

Roll the turf back away from the seam far enough to allow you to lay the cloth down and secure it to the sub base with small nails. Make sure the cloth reaches a few inches in each direction from the seam for proper bonding. If you are using seaming tape, roll it out with the shiny side down before applying the glue. 

gluing artificial grass seems

Apply the artificial grass glue adhesive evenly to the seam cloth making sure not to get any glue on the grass blades. After allowing the glue to become tacky, roll the turf edges down along the seam making sure that the blades don't get squished or make contact with the glue. We recommend walking along the seam to ensure proper bonding. The glue should cure within a few hours but some glues can take up to 24 hours to properly cure. The glue should remain dry for this period, rain and sprinkler water could compromise the glues integrity. 

Required: seam tape or cloth, seam glue, nails, hammer

Secure Turf

At this point of the artificial grass installation you will want to make sure that it's secure everywhere. It's a good idea to start at a point on the perimeter and work your way around to make sure that there aren't any areas that weren't nailed down. The seam can also be nailed down for added peace of mind and durability. At this point it's a great time to do a quality check to make sure everything is looking good. 

Required: hammer, nails

Apply Infill 

The artificial grass installation is almost done! If you are applying infill you have succeeded in laying artificial grass properly to this point. The only thing that should stop you from laying infill is wet turf or you suspect it will rain before you are finished. The process should take 30-60 minutes with a quality broadcast spreader for an average sized lawn. Learn more about installing infill, the best types of infill to use and how to calculate the amount to use by reading our artificial grass infill page. 

Required: infill, broadcast spreader

Groom Turf

With all the infill applied evenly with the spreader the final step is to work the infill into the artificial grass. The infill will create a protective barrier that shouldn't be visible through the grass blades. A push broom or power bristle broom can be used for this step. If you are brooming a large area we recommend a power broom otherwise a regular broom should be sufficient. The ends result is the sand will no longer be visible and the grass blades will be fluffed up nicely. You should now have artificial grass that looks like natural grass!

Required: Push broom
Optional: Bristle brush power broom, backpack blower


Artificial Grass Installation Cost

The total cost for artificial grass is calculated by combining the price per square foot for materials and labour. The artificial turf installer should be able to provide you a reasonably accurate estimate based on the square footage of the area to be covered. It is very likely that there will be material waste that needs to be calculated into the estimate as well. A lawn that is exactly 480 square feet may still require 500 square feet of material including the wastage. 

Artificial grass turf is sold and priced per square foot. The price for artificial grass turf in Canada ranges between $5-$9 per square foot with some exceptions which means that the material cost for a 500 square foot lawn will be roughly $2,500-$4,500. We've put together a list of the disadvantages of artificial grass that will give you a great idea of a few downsides and potentially deal breakers including cost and heat retention. 

The factors that go into the artificial grass installation cost for labour include; job site accessibility, amount of material to be removed and disposed, length of seems and size. A roadside front lawn will have a much lower installation cost than a backyard that's elevated, poor access and requires substantial material removal. The cost for labour to install artificial grass ranges between $4-$6 per square foot with a cost of $2,000-$3,000 for our example 500 square foot lawn. 

If you require artificial grass installation in Kelowna or the Okanagan Valley contact us for a free consultation.


Duralawn