Laying fake grass on dirt: A step-by-step guide

Whether you’ve removed an area of turf or vegetation, or are literally starting with a blank canvas for your garden design, fake grass will prove the ideal solution to totally transform your outdoor space.

Looking to lay fake grass on dirt? It’s essential that you prepare the ground sufficiently ahead of starting the fit so that your new artificial lawn gives you years of maintenance-free pleasure.

Laying fake grass over any type of soil is no problem at all, but you must follow the groundwork rules. A level, well-drained surface is a must. Preparing to lay fake grass on dirt? Read on for all the advice you need.

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:

Do the groundwork

Groundwork is possibly the most important stage in laying artificial grass on dirt.

Before you start, check for cables or pipes. You won’t want to damage anything and prevent crucial services reaching your property. Next, confirm that the area to be fitted with synthetic grass has adequate drainage.

Next, treat the area with a strong weed killer. Allow plenty of time, at least a few days, for this to work.

Now you can move on to the next stage. Remove the soil down to a depth of 75-100mm. Clear any dead vegetation, then level the area so you achieve an even surface. Be aware that that discrepancies are likely to show through your newly laid artificial grass. A slight gradient though is acceptable as this will aid drainage.

Now you have your flat dirt surface, you are ready to fit your weed membrane. This will avert vegetation spoiling the visual appeal of your lawn.

Now you can fit your optional edging. We recommend a wood or metal surround if you intend to border the synthetic lawn with plants. Make certain it doesn’t sit above the final grass line.

Lastly, fill the area with type 1 aggregate to an approximate level of 60mm. Use a wacker plate to compact the aggregate, then apply a layer of sharp sand. Use a screed bar to even it all out.

Your step by step guide to installing fake grass on dirt

Check the weather forecast and make sure you choose a dry day for your fake grass installation.

Step 1: Install your shock pad underlay

Underlay helps lengthen the life of your artificial lawn and gives it more of a natural feel when walked on.

Begin at one end of the space to be laid, pushing the underlay roll right up against the edging or perimeter. 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 as you lay it. Placing a heavy object on each end will prevent this.

Use jointing tape to fix any separate pieces of underlay together. Aim to create a single sheet that you can fix down around the perimeter of your dirt area. Use tacks to secure in place, setting them every 10-20cm.

Step 2: Install your synthetic grass

Roll out your fake grass across the area to be covered. Allow 5cm extra around all the edges so you get a neat edge when you trim to size. Leave the synthetic turf to rest for at least 2 to 3 hours so that the wrinkles drop out. Once it’s crease-free, you are ready to start cutting it to size ahead of securing it down.

Top tip: Trim the synthetic grass with the back facing towards you. Follow the stitch lines to avoid cutting through the stitches to gain the smoothest possible edge.

Sometimes it may be necessary to join pieces of artificial grass. Never glue separate pieces directly onto the underlay. These will move independently when walked on and lead to the joints showing through. Instead, follow these jointing instructions.

How to join synthetic grass

Always make certain that the pile of each piece of fake grass runs in the same direction.

Set the two pieces beside each other, pile upwards, and 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 turn the two sections over and check how they look on the upper side. If it looks acceptable then you can proceed and seal with the jointing tape. Apply pressure evenly along the seam so the adhesive sticks all the way along.

Now it’s time to fix the artificial 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 you will have only around 30 minutes to work with the glue before it goes off. This time will be reduced in warm weather.

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

Step 3: Sand and brush the synthetic grass

We recommend infilling a newly laid synthetic lawn with kiln dried sand. It is a procedure that helps to keep the fake turf in place, minimising the chance of ripples appearing. It also protects the fake grass fibres and keeps them upright. Choose weed-free sand to keep vegetation at bay. Simply sprinkle 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 maintain its appearance.
  • Use a leaf blower, broom or leaf rake can to clear debris. Flush any spillages with water.
  • When placing garden furniture or children’s play equipment on the fake lawn, try to spread the load as much as possible to reduce indentations.
  • Always keep barbeques and other hot objects away from any artificial lawn.