How to Lay Artificial Grass and Create a Low-Maintenance Lawn

June 16th 2021

Everyone loves a manicured lawn, but most of us are much less keen on the hard work it takes to create one. We’re just too busy for all the mowing and weeding, feeding and strimming needy patches of green demand.

That’s why artificial turf is an increasingly popular option for mainstream gardeners. It’s no longer something only a horticultural philistine would consider.

Does it look like natural grass?

Does the phrase artificial grass conjure up images of a shiny, plastic-looking surface? Well, it’s time to take another look. Fake turf is no longer stuck in the 1980s when plastic football pitches famously resembled carpet and scorched bare knees.

Today’s best artificial grasses look and feel natural. The best ones include a blend of different blade profiles to mimic the mix of grass found in natural turf.

Choose and install carefully, and you won’t have to worry about your fake lawn looking… well, fake. But is artificial grass as easy to install as it is to maintain? Find out below.

Step 1. Plan your lawn and clear the ground

Step one is to measure and survey the area whether you’re replacing existing grass or going where no lawn has gone before. Then you can order the right amount of sand, weed membrane, and artificial turf.

After making sure any cables and pipes are out of danger from your digging, remove any existing grass to a depth of at least five centimetres (two inches). If the ground doesn’t drain well, you’ll need to dig to around 10 centimetres. Also, be careful to dispose of any debris, such as stones or bits of brick. One of the few things that stop artificial grass from looking healthy is lumpy ground.

Now walk over the area and look out for soft spots — places that cause your feet to sink. You’ll need to backfill to make sure those parts of your new lawn aren’t weak.

Need to hire some equipment to make light work of all that excavating and clearing? At HSS, we have a comprehensive range of the latest gardening and landscaping equipment. Depending on the size and condition of your plot, you may need a turf cutter, a mini-dumper, a Vibrating Plate (light/medium/ heavy) or a wheelbarrow.

Step 2. Lay the base 

Create the sub-base by covering the area with aggregate to a depth of at least five centimetres. Most professional installers recommend using Grano dust or a similar type of crushed granite or limestone.

Make the base deeper if you foresee plenty of walking over the area, up to 20 centimetres. Then drag a piece of flat timber across the entire space to level it out and compact the sub-base. You can also use a plastic float to smooth out any small indentations.

how to lay artificial grass
(Credit: Martin Prescott) URL:

Step 3. Apply the weed membrane

A porous membrane is essential on top of the sub-base to prevent weeds from invading the finished lawn while allowing it to drain. Once the base is compacted, lay the weed membrane over the area and secure it around the perimeter with galvanised steel nails every 0.75 metres. Trim off any waste membrane from the edges. If any joining is needed, overlap the edges, then stick them firmly down them with gaffer tape.

Step 4. Lay the artificial grass and trim the edges

Unroll the artificial turf gently over the area so the weed membrane isn’t disturbed. Get all the pile running in one direction, preferably towards the house, as this ensures the new lawn looks its best from your windows. Once it’s in position, trim away any excess around the edges using a craft knife and do the following:

  • Fix the joints together by putting lengths of jointing tape on the membrane surface between them, rough side up.
  • Add adhesive to the tape, then position the lengths of turf over the tape so there’s no visible gap.
  • As soon as you’ve glued two rolls in position, ruffle up the grass fibres around the joints to cover them up.
  • Use ground pins to fix the turf in place around the perimeter.

When all the turf is in place and dry, spread some fine sand over the whole lawn, then give it a stiff brushing to make the grass look more natural.

cutting edges of astroturf
URL: (Credit: Martin Prescott)

Step 5. Aftercare

You may not need to mow your new fake lawn, but it does require some minimal maintenance. Brush it regularly with a stiff broom to remove dust and straighten the fibres, washing it every so often. But a word of warning: don’t attack it with a pressure washer or a rake, as this can tear or damage the surface. And never let cigarettes or coals from a BBQ get anywhere near artificial grass.

Find out more

If you’re still wondering whether to lay natural or artificial turf on your new lawn, you can compare different processes on the HSS blog, including growing grass from seed! You’ll find lots more ideas for making your garden gorgeous here.

About the Author

Laila Naqvi

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