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We have tried for years to grow grass in our backyard, but the combination of shade and no topsoil has made it a challenge.  This year we decided to try something different and went the turf route.  Today I am going to show you how to install artificial grass turf in the backyard.

BEFORE Artificial Grass

This is what the yard looked like at the end of February when our amazing mason, Tony Mossomele (703-930-9820), called to say he could fit us into his tight schedule if we acted quickly. That was the start of our backyard makeover, and it has been such a fun journey since.

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Since then, we have leveled the backyard, DIY’ed some brick flower beds, painted outdoor furniture, and this weekend we laid the Select Surfaces artificial grass from Sam’s Club.  It was fun to get our hands dirty, and I’m excited to show you the steps we took.

Note: All products mentioned here were sponsored but the opinions are 100% my own.

AFTER: Artificial Grass

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We are still in the process of manually blooming the grass, but have noticed that each blade is naturally perking up each day on it’s own.  We have more infill on the way.

Select Surfaces Evergreen Artificial Grass

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Last year I creatively used Select Surfaces Artificial Grass as a rug on our deck.  We liked it so much that it gave us the idea and confidence to install the faux grass on our backyard.  We love that the grass has a yellow under layer that looks like natural grass and we liked the softness underfoot. Plus, we have white marble kitchen floors and we (read I) was sick of seeing them get dirty so quickly.  We have only had the grass a few days and the kids have already played soccer, badminton, obstacle course, yard bowling and much more.  Even the most skeptical of our children loves the new grass and I am loving less mud being tracked in.

Supplies to Install Backyard Turf

Wheelbarrow

Shovels

Tamper or Vibrating Plate compactor

Geotextile fabric

3 inches of compactable materials like road base and decomposed granite. We used Blue Stone

Optional: 1 inch of sand (recommended by our local stone yard)

Stainless steel or galvanized nails

Seaming tape

Lawn anchors

In Filler (if you have pets you may want Zeolite infill )

Edging (plastic, metal, or brick all work)

Imitation Grass (We used Select Surfaces)

NOTE:

This post doesn’t address how to install the grass over cement (which is also an option) and the steps we used may not be the best order for you and your backyard.  We had a sloped yard with many exposed tree roots.

If you don’t require leveling it may be beneficial to lay the Geotextile fabric and then add 3 inches of compactable base material such as road base and decomposed granite for crushed aggregates.  We took the steps we did based on recommendations from our local rock/stone/sand dealer with hopes to keep proper drainage and not kill our tree roots in this area of our yard. Time will tell if it works.

 

How to Install Backyard Imitation Grass

Step 1

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Since we had a very sloped backyard we brought in eight tons of Blue Stone and added it to several areas in our backyard.  You may not need to do this step.  We have been told that if we exceed more than three inches of gravel if you have trees or you risk killing the roots.

NOTE: Exposed roots, grass, or other organic material will decompose and can potentially cause failure of the sub-surface if not removed.

How to Install Backyard Imitation Grass

Step 2

 We leveled the gravel but left enough of a slope to not disrupt the drainage.

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Use a vibrating plate compactor, or as a less effective alternative, use a hand tamper to beat down and even out the blue stone.

Compact the edges last. Use either a mallet or a piece of wood, or a hand tamp to level the edges, so as to set a
precise level and ensure a clean edge.

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How to Install Backyard Imitation Grass

Step 3

Apply a geotextile (a soil-stabilizing filter
fabric) to keep native soil from coming into contact with the base material. NOTE:  We bought a thicker and wider option but forgot about it and 
accidentally ended-up using this run-of-the mill weed blocker.  If I could go back and redo this step I would.

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The geotextile fabric should cover the entire installation area. If several pieces of geotextile fabric are required, ensure that you overlap the geotextile pieces by 4 in. – 6 in.  Secure the geotextile fabric to the
native soil using stainless steel or galvanized nails. It is critical that there be no wrinkles in the geotextile fabric as this
can cause drainage issues.

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How to Install Backyard Imitation Grass

Step 4

lk

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We opted to install an inch of sand under our imitation grass.

How to Install Backyard Imitation Grass

Step 5

Measure the installation space, and plan the placement of each roll. IT IS CRITICAL THAT THE BLADES IN EACH ROLL RUN IN THE SAME DIRECTION. Take into consideration which direction the grain should run to optimize the color of the artificial grass. For example, when installing artificial grass in a front yard, the grain of the grass should run toward the street.
2. Lay out the synthetic grass rolls. Square off the artificial grass along your chosen location to minimize cutting and fitting on all 4 sides. Once square, secure the squared edges with temporary nails.

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In the above image, you can see that we put down the grass and cut seams to go together. Then it was time to install U-nails to prevent movement of the artificial grass. Begin by joining rolls together towards the middle of the lawn before securing the outer perimeter. To prevent the natural movement of the artificial grass anchor the U-Nails every couple of feet. Ensure that you do not drive nails too deeply into the ground, as this will cause indentations on the surface of the installation. Avoid pulling the blades down along with the nails – the nails are hidden within the grass blade at the base of the mat. Cut the artificial grass to fit your area, allowing at least 1/8 in excess for tucking in at the end of the installation. Ensure that cuts are clean.
Also, seaming tape and adhesive for artificial grass can be used to join two rolls of artificial grass. Seaming or joining tape for artificial grass can help prevent weeds from coming up in between rolls. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using these products, but ensure that seaming is applied before the U-nails.

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Once the artificial grass is installed, you can use a drop spreader to apply infill.  Optioins for infill can be silicia/Quartz sand or Zeolite for pet owners. 

Then manually bloom blades of grass so that the blades stand erect. Use a “shag” carpet rake or a broom with synthetic bristles. DO NOT USE WIRE OR METAL BRUSH TOOLS, as they will damage the blades and lead to fraying and breakage.  I didn’t have these tools so I have been using a broom and my shoe, but there is still room for improvement.

How to Install Backyard Imitation Grass

STEP 6

We have some zones of the lawn that already had a boarder (See brick below).

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On other areas of the lawn a used a plastic edge and long stakes to secure and divide between the grass and mulch.

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We love the grass and are thrilled with how it turned out!

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Note:  For more info on installing imitation grass in you backyard, on your deck, or over cement, you can reference Select Surfaces Install guide.

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