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Artificial grass has come a long way over the past few decades. Long gone are the days of tacky and plastic-like grass that many of us remember from the 80s or even the 90s.
Today’s artificial grass is much more appealing visually and it also performs so much better than previous iterations when it comes to installations around the home.
Artificial grass is also making a comeback in many parts of the U.S. due to extreme water restrictions that are either in place or soon will be. This is especially true in southwestern states where drought conditions have persisted for years and states like California and Nevada are facing water shortages.
So if you’ve decided to make the switch to artificial grass, this article will give you tips on how to install it over soil as well as over concrete.
Installing Artificial Grass On Concrete
Installing artificial grass on concrete can be easier in some ways than if you were to install it over soil. A concrete surface is most likely already level and base layers such as crushed stone won’t be needed.
However, the underlay on concrete is still important so that will be our first step when preparing for the installation.
Decide On An Underlay
Artificial grass on concrete does not necessarily require an underlay. However, doing so can increase performance dramatically and also make it more suitable for your specific application.
One choice is to use a foam underlay. This is similar in purpose to the foam underlay used on hardwood floors that you may already be familiar with. By adding a foam underlay, it adds a layer of cushion and softness to the artificial grass, making it more grass-like in feel.
Common foam underlays are 5mm thick or 10mm thick and their use depends on how much cushion you require.
This underlay is useful if children or pets are going to be using the area for playing. Artificial grass over concrete with no foam underlay can be deceptively hard and cause injuries to those who think the surface is as soft as grass.
Another option is using drainage tiles as an underlay. These come in the form of square rubber tiles with a mesh pattern. The tiles can be easily placed down and they usually interlock together by design.
Some homeowners choose sand as an underlay but this is usually not the best solution. On a hard, relatively smooth surface like concrete, the sand shifts too much over time and is eventually displaced.
If your concrete has cracks or weeds growing through it, remove the weeds as best you can and then place a weed barrier down. Not all installations will require this step but make sure to inspect for weeds to see if it may be necessary.
Installing The Grass On Concrete
1. Clean the surface with a strong hose and use a stiff brush if necessary
You want the concrete area to be as clean as possible. Once finished, wait for the area to completely dry before continuing
2. Fill any gaps or uneven space
Although the foam underlay will fix minor deviations in the surface, large surface gaps or seams will need to be filled with sand or other materials.
3. Begin to put down your underlay
This should be relatively easy but it does require an adhesive to be used. This is a specialized adhesive and you should use the type recommended by the manufacturer of the underlay.
4. When the underlay adhesive is fully dry it’s time to start putting down the grass
Unroll your grass and start to fit it into the area that needs to be covered. Leave about two inches of overhang over the perimeter that you will cut later.
On larger areas, you may need to join two pieces of grass. For homeowners, this is generally done using specialized tape and glue which should be available from the same source that you bought the grass from.
Once the area is covered, let it sit overnight. This allows any bends or curves in the grass to settle out and become flat.
5. Glue the perimeter down using a proper adhesive made for your grass and concrete
Make sure to follow the instructions for your specific grass and glue. Generally, you will want to allow gaps in the glue to allow for drainage and air circulation.
These are small gaps, usually 3/4 of an inch or so. Too large of a gap will compromise the overall strength of the glue joint.
6. Apply the infill
Once the glue has dried per the instructions, you can apply a light sand infill. Lightly apply sand and work it in with a stiff brush.
Installing Artificial grass On Soil
Installing artificial grass on soil is a more involved process than when done on concrete. Most of this extra work comes down to preparing the base so that the final result is both long-lasting and aesthetically pleasing.
1. Remove all grass from the area
You’ll need to dig up all the real grass and other roots or weeds in the area. Once cleared, dig down a uniform 2.5 inches to allow space for the underlay.
2. Place your weed barrier
You will need a weed barrier to be placed over the soil. Use a quality barrier and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how to secure it. Usually, this is done with galvanized nails or anchors.
3. Pour and level the aggregate underlay
Use crushed stone, gravel, or other aggregate and pour it into the area you dug out. Take time to rake and smooth the area so that it is both uniform and follows the contours you want.
You’ll also want to tamp the aggregate to make sure it’s fully settled. A hand tamp can work, but a vibratory plate tamper makes the job much easier.
4. Lay the artificial grass
This is similar to the process of installing grass on concrete. You’ll likely need to join larger pieces using adhesive and joining tape.
The main difference when installing on soil is that you secure the perimeter of the grass with 6-inch nails or specific landscaping anchors. Make sure the grass is pulled tight before securing, similar to laying carpet.
Other areas may need to be anchored other than the perimeter, but this will depend on the shape and contours of the area being covered.
5. Adding infill
With the installation nearly complete it’s time to put on the finishing touches. Apply sand as the infill and brush it in using a stiff brush. Add sand slowly and work it in until it disappears into the fibers.
This process is necessary to keep the fibers or strands standing up under use.
Final Tips For Installing Artificial Grass On Soil Or Concrete
By following the steps above, most DIY homeowners should be able to get a great result when installing artificial grass.
Just remember, each manufacturer may have different requirements for adhesives and joining tape as well as other aspects of working with the grass and underlay. So always consult the manufacturer’s website for any specific instructions that need to be followed.
Once completed, you should be able to enjoy your newly grassed area for 15 years or more with proper maintenance and regular use. This makes the installation a sound investment and a great project for homeowners looking to reap the benefits of artificial grass around their property. Check out our post on buying artificial grass if you’re ready to make the change to artificial.