Can You Lay Artificial Grass Directly onto Soil?


There are several types of surfaces upon which artificial grass can be laid, but is soil one of them?

You can lay artificial grass on soil, but the ground needs to be prepared properly before installation. The surface needs to be level to ensure proper drainage. The surface needs to be cleared of any debris and weed killer applied several weeks prior to laying the turf to kill all vegetation down to its roots.

Having an artificial lawn is low maintenance and a great way to protect your soil from damage. In order to get the perfect finish, this article is going to show you:

  • Important installation factors and different soil types
  • Whether you’ll need to add underlay
  • What to do if you own a pet
  • Full installation guide for a professional finish

Laying Artificial Grass on Soil

As with laying natural grass, you should prepare the soil so that you end up with a level finish for better drainage. Preparing the area can mean spending time filling in holes, killing off weeds, and inspecting for buried pipes.

Some factors to consider when laying synthetic grass include:

  • Sprinklers – Sprinklers buried in the soil will need to be marked and cut around.
  • Rodent Nests – Rodents may have dug small holes in existing grass, deep into the soil. These rodents need to be removed in order to prevent them from digging through your new turf.
  • Weeds and Crab Grass – Kill off all the vegetation from where you will be laying the artificial turf as you want to prevent it from growing back under the turf. Weeds and other vegetation may take a few days to die.
  • Rocks – Anything hard under the turf needs to go, so you want to remove rocks and big stones. The turf may look soft, but a hidden rock is a danger to children, pets, and adults.
  • Mud – Some areas of the soil may hold more clay and cause a build-up of water under the turf when it rains.
  • Drainage – The turf will slow evaporation from the surface of the soil. So, you need to think about how to drive rainwater away from the space between the soil and the fake turf.

Sand-Based vs Clay Soil

Though sand-based soil is better for drainage, it tends to shift around as people walk over it, which will create dips. Clay soil causes other issues since it will hold in water and form small ponds beneath the synthetic grass.

Before laying down your fake grass, you will need to determine what type of soil you have.

Laying Artificial Grass on Clay Soil

Stagnant water trapped on the surface of clay soil will develop mold and rot the artificial grass from beneath. If you have thick clay soil, you need to level it out with a porous material to help with drainage.

A stone chip base of between two to four inches will provide an effective drainage base for your artificial grass.

Can I Lay Artificial Grass on Sloping Soil?

A sloped lawn is perfect for the drainage of both synthetic and natural types of grass, but an extreme slope can cause other issues. Removing the natural vegetation and roots from the soil when laying fake turf can lead to subsidence.

Subsidence is a gradual movement of the soil away from under the grass, forming a clump at the bottom of the slope. The solution is that the turf needs to be anchored to the soil and the soil anchored to the ground to prevent shifting.

Do I Need to Underlay Artificial Grass?

Adding underlay is not always necessary, but it can help with the installation and lifespan of the turf. There are also safety concerns about laying fake turf over concrete, and the extra padding will reduce the chances of serious accidents.

Shock pads will also make walking with bare feet on the synthetic grass feel more natural and comfortable.

There are many reasons why you should consider underlaying your turf:

  • Sports Fields – Artificial turfs are woven into thin backing materials that offer little to no cushioning. An underlay pads out the turf and protects the players’ feet and their bodies from impacts with concrete or hard soil bases.
  • Drainage – An underlay can help with water runoff and prevent the build-up of moisture beneath the turf.
  • Weeds – The underlay acts as a physical barrier to prevent weeds from making their way through the fake turf’s mesh.
  • Rodents – You may also choose to use an underlay with a rodent mesh to stop critters from burrowing through your turf and making nests.

When you are laying artificial turf, you should always clear the area and lay a barrier between the soil and the turf. Even when laying fake turf over sandy soil, it is both safer and gives a better result to use an underlay.

What Should I Put Under Artificial Grass for Pets?

The smell of pet urine is another good reason for putting a control layer between the turf and the ground. Control layers are excellent for neutralizing ammonia in pet urine. Pet-specific layer products are also more resilient to the bleaching effects of urine.

The padding is essential if you are laying the turf over a concrete surface. Pet owners know that their pets play rough and will wrestle each other around on the ground. A base layer adds an extra level of padding for animal paws and from falls while they are running around.

How to Lay Artificial Grass on Soil

Materials List

  • Stone aggregate
  • Weed barrier
  • Artificial grass
  • 1-inch shock pads
  • 2-inch carpet tacks
  • Glue for artificial grass
  • Sand (1lb per square foot / 5kg per square meter)

Tools List

  • Wheelbarrow
  • Yard broom
  • Box knife
  • Glue spreader
  • Flat bar (for leveling)
  • Plate compactor

Step-by-Step Installation Guide

  1. Clear – You want a weed-free zone, so start by digging out and killing off stubborn plant growth with weed killer.
  2. Infill – A level surface is better for drainage and easier for fitting artificial turf. Use kiln-dried sand across your laying area. You want the sand layer to be at least an inch deep. A plate compactor will give you the best result.
  3. Shock Pads -Use a joining tape to create a single sheet of underlay and tacks to stop the pads from rolling back.
  4. Rollout – Roll the grass out and leave it to settle in the sun. It will take two to three hours to even out the ripples in the turf and for the fake grass to expand.
  5. Match -Match each joining sheet of grass so that the direction of the turf’s piles is in the same direction. This will make each roll of turf easier to join.
  6. Fit -Make the size of the cut so that it is more than 2 inches bigger than what you need. Mark out where you will cut. But turn the synthetic grass upside-down for most of the cutting as you want to follow the turf’s stitch lines.
  7. Join – Use joining tape on the back of the grass to link the rolls of grass together.
  8. Glue – Glue the grass to the shock pads.
  9. Wait – The glue will take around 30 minutes to dry but wait another two hours before walking on the grass.

Graham Walsh

I want to share everything I know about home improvement in order to help you. Whether you're a home enthusiast or an industry professional, I have the information that you need.

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