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How to Install Artificial Turf on Dirt or Soil in 11 Easy Steps – Expert Guide

So you’ve decided that it’s time to get rid of that annoying organic grass that requires lots of maintenance and care.

You want artificial grass that lasts longer and doesn’t require too much maintenance but don’t know how to install it on dirt or soil.

Many people who don’t have experience with artificial turf are afraid to install it on dirt because to them it requires too much work.

Well this article will help you how to install your desired artificial turf on your land so that you don’t have any doubts and fears about your choice.

How to Install Artificial Turf on Dirt

If you want to install artificial turf onto a patch of dirt surface, well the first step is to prepare the land.

1. Preparing the Surface

Get rid of all the existing organic grass and plants that were on the dirt surface.

If you leave the existing vegetation and weeds as they are, they will grow and will cause the areas of the artificial turf to rise and make it look bad, uneven and unpleasant.

This ruins the view and makes it uncomfortable for you and your guests to walk on.

It is recommended to use the herbicide for this purpose in the warmer seasons like summer when the nighttime temperature stays above 65 degrees.

2. Remove Top Soil

The land you once knew is no more it’s time to start anew, and for this case, that’s your old pre-existing dirt or soil. To make your turf perform properly you have to get rid of the old soil from the top and from within. That’s by digging it up around 3 to 4 inches.

3. Removing Debris and Vegetation

Now that you’ve gotten rid of all the preexisting grass and plants on the land, the next thing is to get rid of all the roots and vegetation underneath it

To get rid of something permanently you have to get rid of its origin and for a plant, it’s their roots.

These are deep underneath the land, and that’s why in the previous step we advised you dig out 3-4 inches of soil.

This is to remove the roots and any vegetation growing within the soil.

This step is essential because if you do not get rid of the roots within the soil they will regrow back and ruin the artificial turf forcing you to start all over again.

4. Add Subbase material

Now your land is clear of debris and plants so that means it’s now ready for the artificial turf right?

No, not yet because the soil that is now left behind is native soil and that soil consists of clay which during the seasons contracts and expands.

So if you lay your artificial turf onto that native soil, it will cause  problems like soft spots and uneven surfaces in the turf.

To prevent that from happening a layer of sub-base is added on top of that native soil.

A sub-base like decomposed granite is a non-expansive material that holds the soil together and is perfect as a foundation for artificial turfs.

5. Make the Dirt Surface Level and Flat

Now that your land is prepared and Plant free, now you start making a strong foundation for the turf, so lay down 1/4 inch decomposed granite onto the land.

Lay down the decomposed granite 1 inch at a time, wet it, and roll the granite with a sod roller so that you can get good compaction, do this till you reach the desired level of soil you want to achieve.

It is advised that you level the decomposed granite up to the deck of your lawn so that the turf is adjacent to the deck and this will prevent any trips or falls when walking from the deck towards the lawn.

6. Install Weed Fabric/Weed Barrier

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Now you’ve laid the solid foundation of granite for your turf there’s one more thing to be worried about – weed growth.

To prevent that from happening lay down a weed fabric or weed barrier that’ll prevent any rouge weed from ruining your turf.

What about the drained water and air from the turf, won’t it get blocked by the fabric?

Not really! A good quality weed fabric does not block any air or water from the turf – it drains it and will not cause any problems for you or your turf.

To hold the weed fabric or weed barrier in place you have to use long nails so that while it’s covered the weed barrier doesn’t move.

Installing The Artificial Turf

It’s time to bring your desired aesthetic into reality and give it life, now that you’ve cleared your land from organic grass, dug out the topsoil, laid the foundation and installed a weed barrier

The next thing to do is to lay it onto the dirt that you (painstakingly) prepared for it. You now have everything organized and cleared all potential problems that would have ruined the artificial turf either from within or the outside.

7. Cut Your Artificial Grass

Take the right measurements of the edges of the prepared land and cut the grass according to it, use shears or a utility knife to cut the grass.

No one would like it if the grass was overlapping the deck of the lawn and not fitting in with the edges properly. Right?

8. Layout Your Synthetic Grass

Time for the most satisfying part of artificial turf installation on dirt – laying it out!

Unroll the turf onto the prepared surface and after taking the proper measurement of the edges of your lawn you will cut the grass according to it.

If any trees or land posts are getting in the way of the turf then fold the grass back and decide the shortest route.

To join segments of grass together lay a joining tape between the segments and nail the tape, after that apply an adhesive over the tape to keep the segments in place.

Nail the grass to the ground around the edges of the land, with approximately 4 inches of space between each nail.

9. Fasten and Secure your Newly Laid Turf

After you’ve installed your new artificial turf, look around for culprits in the environment that will disrupt or intervene in the process of applying the infill for the grass.

Also, keep an out for any turf edge popping out from the land if you see one, simply nail it to the ground

If any edges do not align with the layout of the lawn then cut or trim them accordingly.

10. Add Turf Infill

Now that you’ve applied your artificial turf onto your land there’s one crucial thing missing and that’s “Infill”.

Infill is made up of small granules that allow the artificial grass to perform well and increase its life span.

There are many different types of infill each used for specific applications

For example, silica sand is used in those places that expect low foot traffic i.e. balcony or patios.

Durafill is used by people that do not want any moisture or heat to get trapped into their grass due.

Rubber infill is used by those people that require more grip and bounce in their artificial grass to perform athletic sports.

Finally, rubber-sand infill is used to get rid of the rigid texture of the rubber focused infill and instead of giving it a softer touch due to the mixture with sand.

And what if you don’t use infill on artificial grass?

Well your grass will look fake and be at risk of depression simply from being stepped on too many times. Infill will make your synthetic turf retain its shape and will make it look more vibrant.

11. Brush Your Freshly Installed Artificial Turf

To make sure that the infill stays in the grass and settles in properly within it, use a broom or a power broom to make sure that the infill settles in deep within the strands of artificial grass.

Just move the broom back and forth across the newly installed artificial turf, it’s that simple.

11a. Add Pet Waste Absorbent Infill If You Have Pets

Being a pet owner is a great responsibility and how will you keep your animals from ruining your new artificial turf – by keeping them away?

No, I’m here to tell you that just like you even your pets especially dogs can enjoy your new artificial turf.

But what about the routine dog waste, how do you get rid of that?

Well, the answer is a simple – pet infill – an infill specifically designed to absorb moisture and neutralize pet urine odor.

So no need to worry about your pets ruining your vibrant turf anymore. Unlike organic grass, all you have to do is wash out the waste with water and a broom, simple as that.

Tips for Installing Your Artificial Grass

Now that you’ve made your dream landscape into a reality there are a few tips a beginner should be given about their artificial turf because even if you have followed the above steps perfectly with the word to word precision, some things can go wrong due to unseen or uncontrolled circumstances

Ensuring Proper Drainage

To enjoy your artificial turf, make sure your drainage system underneath the soil is properly working.

If you do not have a properly working drainage system then it will not absorb the water during rainy seasons or while watering the turf for maintenance.

Instead it will create puddles which will be a hassle to get rid of.

So if you do not want to fix your broken drainage system because it requires too much work, then simply apply this workaround.

While placing the turf onto the surface give about 6-8 inches of space around the perimeter of the artificial turf so then when it rains the water has enough space to flow out of the turf rather than being trapped within the turf.

This way you do not need to worry about the formation of water puddles during the rainy seasons.

Waterproofing the Borders

The edges are as important to maintain as the center of the turf especially when it comes to water.

If your turf’s borders are not waterproof then it can cause sagging and separating of the turf in the long run

To prevent that from happening use plastic bender board around the edges or install concrete curbs around the turf’s perimeter which is a better and permanent solution.

Safety Tips to Install Artificial Turf on Soil

Is the synthetic grass safe for you and your pets? Yes, it is, and here are some further safety tips to ensure that no harm comes to you or your beloved pets.

Do Not Use A Sharp Sand Sub-Base

While installing sub-base do not use sharp sand. Even though many turf installers recommend it that’s only because it is cheap.

The reason to not use sharp sand is because when the turf drains the water, the sharp sand washes away and ruins the drainage of the turf.

Many people are tricked into buying sharp sand all because of the cost but you make sure you avoid it and use decomposed granite or limestone instead.

Use Proper Equipment

Your safety is the number one priority while installing artificial turf, so make sure to use equipment that does not malfunction and use safety gloves to prevent any cuts or injuries from the utility knife.

Make sure to check for any safety hazards before installing the artificial turf.

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