Laying artificial grass on soil: A step-by-step guide

If you’ve cleared a section of your garden ready to lay fake grass and you’re starting with an area of soil, these are the installation instructions you’re going to need.

Good groundwork is essential, so be sure to follow these specific guidelines to lay fake grass on soil, making certain you are starting with a well-drained surface. You will then be able to enjoy many years of low-maintenance fake grass.

Materials checklist:

  • Weed membrane
  • Type 1 aggregate
  • Sharp sand for fine levelling
  • Metal or timber surround (optional)
  • Your chosen artificial grass
  • 20mm shock pad underlay
  • 40mm x 2.5mm carpet tacks
  • Artificial grass glue
  • Jointing tape (if joints are required)
  • Kiln-dried sand (for your fake grass infill – around 4-5Kg per square metre)

Tools checklist:

  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Wacker plate
  • Screed bar
  • Stiff broom
  • Tape measure or straight edge
  • Sharp knife and spare blades
  • Spatula or filling knife (to spread the glue)

Before you start:

Essential groundwork

This is a very important stage so be sure to follow all the instructions fully.

First things first, check to see whether there are any cables or pipes present. Next, check the area drains well. If there are any puddles forming on your base, this will affect your artificial grass once laid.

Once you are happy that the area benefits from adequate drainage and is clear of pipes and cables, treat it with a strong weed killer. Give it at least a few days so that all the weeds are extinguished.

The next step is to remove the soil down to a depth of 75-100mm. It is imperative that there is no topsoil left in place. Remove any dead vegetation, then level the area, remembering that any undulations will show through once the fake turf is laid. A slight gradient is allowable to aid drainage.

Now you have your prepared soil surface, you can fit your weed membrane. This is another vital step, because you won’t want weeds growing through your artificial lawn, and this is likely to happen without the membrane.

Once the membrane is secured in place, you are ready to fit your optional edging, always a good idea if you are surrounding your fake lawn with planting. A wood or metal surround will work well, just be sure to fit it flush with the final grass line.

The last step of the groundwork stage is to fill the area with type 1 aggregate. Do this to a level of around 60mm. A wacker plate will compact the aggregate well. When that’s ready, apply a layer of sharp sand and even it with a screed bar.

Your step by step guide to installing fake grass on soil

Never lay fake grass on a wet surface, or if rain is forecast.

Step 1: Fit your shock pad underlay

Underlay helps prolong the life of your artificial turf and help to make it feel more natural when walking on it.

Start at one end of your soil area. Butt the underlay roll up against the edging or perimeter, then roll it out and cut to the desired shape. Continue until the whole area is covered.

Top tip: Underlay will naturally try to roll itself back during the laying process. Placing a heavy object on each end will help stop this from happening.

Jointing tape should be used to fix any separate pieces of underlay together. Aim to create a single sheet that you can fix down around the perimeter of your soil area. Fix in place with tacks set out at intervals of around 10-20cm.

Step 2: Fit your fake grass

Roll out your fake grass across the area of readied soil. Allow 5cm extra around all the edges ready for trimming to size. Before trimming though, be sure to leave the synthetic turf to rest for at least 2 to 3 hours to clear any ripples. Once the turf is rested and crease-free, you can start cutting it to size ahead of securing it down.

Top tip: Cut the synthetic grass with the underside facing towards you. Follow the stitch lines s that you don’t cut through the stitches. This will ensure the neatest possible edge.

For larger areas being turfed, it may be necessary to join pieces of artificial grass together. Never glue separate pieces directly onto the underlay as they will shift around independently when walked on and reveal the joints. Instead, follow these jointing instructions.

How to join synthetic grass

Firstly, ensure that the pile of each piece of fake grass runs in the same direction.

Set the two pieces beside each other, pile facing you, then line up the edges.

Fold the edges of both pieces back on themselves about 25cm to reveal the back of the grass and the stitch lines. Carefully trim 2-3 stitch lines down each edge. Now turn the two sections over and check how they look on the good side. If you’re happy with it then you can go ahead and seal on the back with the jointing tape. Apply pressure evenly along the seam so the adhesive sticks right the way along.

Now you are ready to secure the fake grass to the underlay.

Fold the turf back and apply a generous layer of glue directly to the entire perimeter edge of the underlay. Be aware that the glue will usually set within around 30 minutes, or less in warmer weather, so be sure to work quickly but carefully.

So that the artificial grass and underlay can fully bond, keep off the synthetic lawn for at least two hours.

Step 3: Sand and brush the synthetic grass

It is highly recommended to infill a new fake lawn with kiln dried sand, weed-free if you can so as to add another layer of weed protection.

Infilling the lawn will help keep the grass in place and help to prevent ripples appearing. The process also helps to keep the fibres upright.

Sprinkle the sand evenly over the grass, then brush with a stiff or motorised broom in the direction of the pile to give the fibres a good lift.

Following fitting:

  • Brushing a fake lawn with a stiff brush or plastic rake will help keep its appearance in premium condition.
  • Use a leaf blower, broom or leaf rake can to clear debris such as leaves. Clear any spillages with water.
  • When placing garden furniture or children’s play equipment on the artificial lawn, try to spread the load as much as possible to help minimise indentations.
  • Always keep barbeques and other hot objects away from artificial grass.