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

Many gardens have areas of stones or gravel which was laid in an attempt to achieve a durable space. Whilst gravel can be hardwearing, it can be difficult to maintain, especially when weeds or grass persist on growing up through it. What’s more, it can also become quite tedious to look at after a while, as well as difficult to walk on. It’s not great for placing garden furniture on either, and definitely not ideal for children to play on.

The good news is, if you are looking to lay artificial grass on stones, there is no need to remove them before you do so. You can actually go right ahead and lay the fake turf directly on the gravel, providing the drainage is good. Read on for full instructions and all the materials and tools you’ll need for the job.

Materials checklist:

  • 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:

  • Wacker plate
  • Screed bar
  • Stiff broom
  • Tape measure or straight edge
  • Sharp knife and spare blades
  • Spatula or filling knife (to spread the glue)
  • Garden hose (to check drainage)
  • Drill with 16mm bit (to create drainage holes should drainage be an issue)

Before you start:

Prepare the surface

If weeds have been growing up through the gravel, be sure to apply a strong weed killer before you start.

The next step is to compact the gravel with a wacker plate.

Then, to create a smooth base, add a low level of sharp sand over the top. Use the screed bar to level off.

If you wish to edge off your artificial lawn for planting, now is the time to place your metal or timber surround, ensuring it does not sit above the final planned grass line.

Check the ventilation

As you’re working with adhesive, be sure to check you have adequate ventilation around you.

Your step by step guide to installing artificial grass on stones

Be sure to work with a dry surface. Always avoid installing fake grass on a wet day.

Step 1: Shock pad underlay installation

Start at one end of the area to be turfed, ensuring the underlay roll butts right up to the edge. Roll it out and then cut to the desired shape. Continue this process until the entire area is covered.

Top tip: Often the shock pad will try to roll itself back as you attempt to lay it. Placing a heavy object on each end will prevent this happening.

Now take your jointing tape and fix the pieces of underlay together. Aim to form a single sheet. You can now fix your underlay down around the edges, using tacks every 10-20cm.

Step 2: Artificial grass installation

Roll your artificial grass out onto the area to be turfed. Allow 5cm extra around all the edges so you have room to create a neat edge. Creases and wrinkles are natural, so don’t be alarmed. Do leave the unrolled fake turf for at least 2 to 3 hours to let it settle, and the creases should disappear.

Now it’s time to start cutting the fake grass to size using your sharp knife.

Top tip: Trim the synthetic grass with the back facing you. Follow the stitch lines to avoid cutting through the stitches so you achieve a nice smooth edge.

If you have a large area of gravel or stones to cover, it may be necessary to join two or more pieces of fake turf together. Do not glue separate pieces directly onto the underlay as it will cause the pieces to move independently when walked on, which will reveal the joints. Instead, follow the jointing instructions below.

How to join artificial grass

The essential thing when joining pieces of artificial grass is to make certain that the pile of each piece runs in the same direction.

Set the two pieces beside each other, pile upwards. Now 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. Cut 2-3 stitch lines down each edge. Now flip over the two sections to see how they look on the upper side before joining with the jointing tape. Apply pressure along the seam so the adhesive sticks right the way along.

The next step is to affix the artificial turf to the underlay.

Fold the turf back and apply a layer of glue directly to the underlay, going right around the perimeter. Remember that you have limited time to work with the glue before it goes off. 30 minutes is the average.

To allow the fake grass and shock pad underlay to fully bond, do not walk or place anything on the newly laid lawn for at least two hours.

Step 3: Sand and brush the artificial grass

For best results, infill the newly fitted artificial lawn with kiln dried sand. This will help fix the grass in place, reducing the chance of creases. It will also act to protect the synthetic grass fibres and keep them looking their best. Choose weed-free sand to keep weeds at bay.

After you have infilled the artificial lawn, give it a good brush with a stiff or motorised broom. Do this in the direction of the pile to lift the fibres.

Following fitting:

  • Keep your artificial lawn looking its best by regularly brushing with a stiff broom or plastic rake.
  • Debris can be cleared using a leaf blower, broom or leaf rake.
  • Any spillages can be easily cleansed with water.
  • Be sure to place garden furniture or children’s play equipment carefully so as to spread the load and reduce indentations.
  • Always keep barbeques and other hot objects away from any artificial lawn.