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

Whether you’ve removed dead grass or cleared an area of vegetation, the fact is you’ll be left with a blank area of mud that will be in serious need of transformation. Artificial grass could well be the answer.

Looking to lay fake grass on a muddy area of a garden? It’s essential that you prepare the ground before commencing the installation so that your new artificial lawn lasts the distance.

Fitting synthetic grass over any form of soil is perfectly acceptable, but there are rules to follow. A level, clear surface with sufficient drainage is vital. Gearing up to lay fake grass on mud? Read on for all the guidance you’re going to 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:

Prepare the ground

Preparing the ground is probably the most important stage in laying fake grass on mud.

First, run a check for cables or pipes, as you won’t want to inhibit any vital services into your property by damaging them. Next, affirm that the space to be laid with fake grass benefits from sufficient drainage.

Now you’ll need to treat the area with a strong weed killer. Give this some time to work. A few days is ideal.

Next you’ll need to remove the soil down to a depth of 75-100mm. Get rid of all the existing dead vegetation, then flatten the area to create an even surface. Remember that any undulations are likely to show through your newly laid artificial lawn. A slight gradient though is acceptable as this will aid drainage.

Now you have your flat mud surface, you can fit your weed membrane. This will prevent vegetation growing up through your artificial lawn and spoiling its appearance.

The next step is to fit your edging. This is your choice, but helpful if you intend to surround the fake lawn with planting. Be sure to fit it so that it doesn’t sit above the final grass line.

The last groundwork step involves filling 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. Finally, use a screed bar to even everything out.

Your step by step guide to installing fake grass on mud

Choose a rain-free day for your installation. Never fit fake grass over a wet base.

Step 1: Fit your shock pad underlay

Underlay helps prolong the life of your fake turf and gives it more of a natural spring when walked on.

Start at one end of the space to be laid, ensuring the underlay roll butts right up against the edging or perimeter. Roll it out, then cut to the desired shape. Carry on 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 relieve this issue.

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 muddy area using tacks. Place them every 10-20cm.

Step 2: Lay your synthetic grass

Roll out your fake grass across the area to be covered. Allow 5cm extra around all the edges. This will give you sufficient room to form a neat edge. Wrinkles will occur naturally. Just leave the synthetic turf to rest for at least 2 to 3 hours, allowing it to settle so that the wrinkles disappear. Once it’s crease-free, you are ready to start cutting it to size in readiness for 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 for the smoothest possible edge.

Where the area to turf is quite expansive, it may be necessary to join two or more pieces of artificial grass together. Never glue separate pieces directly onto the underlay. These will move independently when walked on and lead to the joints becoming visually apparent. Instead, follow these jointing instructions.

How to join synthetic grass

The crucial thing is to ensure 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’s all OK then you can go ahead 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 mindful that you will have only around 30 minutes to work with the glue before it goes off, less if the weather is warm.

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 artificial grass

It is highly recommended to infill a newly laid fake lawn with kiln dried sand. This process helps to keep the fake turf in place, lessening the chance of creases forming. It also protects the fake grass fibres and maintains them in the best condition. Go for weed-free sand to keep vegetation at bay. Simply sprinkle over the grass, then brush through with a stiff or motorised broom in the direction of the pile to lift the fibres.

Following fitting:

  • Brushing a fake lawn with a stiff brush or plastic rake will help maintain its visual appeal.
  • A leaf blower, broom or leaf rake can be used to clear debris. Any spillages can be flushed out with water.
  • Take care when placing garden furniture or children’s play equipment on the fake lawn. Try to spread the load to reduce indentations.
  • Always keep barbeques and other hot objects away from any artificial lawn.