Anyone ever install artificial turf? Post pics tips advice

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by alldayrj, Aug 1, 2013.

  1. alldayrj

    alldayrj LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,793

    I have a repeat customer ask me to do 3200 sf of artificial turf. I've gotten some different responses saying put it on RCA, sand, stone dust etc. I need to contact the manufacturer but I would rather hear from someone who's done it. He wants to buy the turf(it's around $2/sf) he wants me to prep and install.
    What do you do around mulch beds?
    How do you seam it together?
    Do I need to remove all the old grass?
    Anything else you can throw my way would be appreciated.
  2. alldayrj

    alldayrj LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,793

  3. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    We've done a lot of these over the years. We just finished one two days ago. There see photos of several of our synthetic turf jobs in our photo gallery, if you want to see them.

    I find that there are different standards from different suppliers/manufacturers. But I've always considered the base prep for Synthetic Turf to be just as important as the base for a paver patio. You want it to be stable and to last a long, long time, right? So the prep should be just as good. So even though a lot of manufacturers will tell you to excavate just 2"-3", install 2-3" of aggregate, and go from there, I've always taken it a step further. We excavate at least 4", install woven geotextile fabric down (like you would for a paver patio), then 3" of course aggregate, like 3/4" with fines, compact, then 1" of finer aggregate, like 1/4" with fines (makes final grading easier), compact, THEN install the turf. That's a good, stable base.

    As for the seams, that's a real pain to learn how to get that right. Our installers have got it down really good now, but it took a while. It helps to really get trained by someone who is really experienced in it and to have them help you with the first few installs.

    Which brings me to brand and why I use SynLawn. In my area, there is a local SynLawn dealer in town. They not only sell the stuff, but they are very supportive of landscapers who buy from them. The owner of the local SynLawn branch has been there for us, along the way, whenever we needed him. He came and taught my guys how to do the seams just right. He taught us how to stretch the turf the right way, taught us the right tools to use for cutting, installing the fasteners at a high speed, stretching, and seaming. Now, we probably pay 50% more for their product vs. the stuff I could buy online. So that makes our bids higher. It means we land a lower percentage of jobs. But if you really do some research, you'd find their turf and warranty to be superior in a lot off ways. So I think it's worth it. But the main benefit is the assistance, advice and support I get from the company. There have been countless times they've helped us through a tricky installation. On site help, when you're doing something for the first few times, is invaluable.

    So that would be my advice. Find a local supplier of turf who knows seaming and all installation practices and form a partnership with them. They just want to sell more turf. So they should be happy to help you. If there is not a SynLawn close by, try your local Horizon, Ewing, or John Deere Landscapes and see if they offer turf and have guys who are qualified to help train you.

    If you really learn it well in the beginning, you'll be able to sell and handle more and bigger installs down the road and you'll become known for really doing quality work. Otherwise, if you just learn a little online and go about it yourself without really much on-site guidance, you're jobs probably aren't going to turn out as well. It pays to learn to do it well.

    If there is just nothing at all available locally, then I guess your best bet will be YouTube videos. I'm sure there are lots of them out there, even on seaming. But live, in person training would be your best bet, if you can find anything local.

    A few tips on seaming that I've learned. First, you want to cut back the first inch or so, before you make a seam. Because turf at the end of a roll is invariably just a little taller than the rest of the grass blades on that roll. If you just seam one edge to another, your eye will catch that height variation and you'll notice the seam. Proper seaming tape underneath is really important. And you will use 2-3 times the amount of fasteners around a seam than you will on the rest of the turf. But fasteners are tricky too. If you get them down too far, you'll see little dimples all over the place in your turf. This, again, is where someone experienced can really help to train you on just how to get the fasteners in just right.

    Also, if you're going to get into the synthetic turf game, go spend a couple hundred on a Shindaiwa power broom. This is a must. And the brand is important too. Shindaiwa has the best one for brooming turf.

    There is so much more to learn. More than I could write. Just find someone experienced to help you. That's my advice
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2013
  4. alldayrj

    alldayrj LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,793

    Well i got the job, gave him a price for hauling, base, terex pt30 rental, buying a power broom and labor to install. He is purchasing the turf, infill, seaming supplies and tools.

    I know, not the most professional arrangement but I'm getting my foot in the door. He knows this is my first and he still wants me to do it.

    I will contact the manufacturer and see if they have a rep who can help me out. They will send a cut map etc. i will check out your pics when i get a chance, thanks Jim. Very helpful
  5. alldayrj

    alldayrj LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,793

    Jim how do you do your edges? Nail to a pressure treat or trex board? Bury in the base?
  6. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    You just cut the edges to whatever shape desired, then affix the turf to the base using whatever fasteners they recommend.

    Oh yah, infill. :dizzy: I hate that stuff. That's another reason I use SynLawn. All of their higher end stuff doesn't require infill. So you don't have to worry about it falling out the sides. I've never actually installed a variety of turf that you had to use infill with. I hate that stuff. I avoid it like the plague.

    I guess if the infill was going to fall out the edges, I'd install Steel Edging. Like this:
  7. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    Here's a direct link to the photo gallery where I've put some of our installs:

    The one on the upper left (Choi Project) is the one we finished on Wednesday of this week. There was an 18' seam going across the lawn. But even standing on it, I couldn't find the seam anywhere. My crew had to actually show me where they put the seam.

    I like this variety of turf we used too (SynFescue Platinum 351) because they add a little thatch into it, to make it look more like a real lawn. Here's one of the pics from that job. The rest you can see at the link above.


  8. Mowzis

    Mowzis LawnSite Member
    Messages: 18

    Awesome pics Jim! Thanks for all the info. Looks like it requires a bit more knowledge to install than I thought.
  9. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    You from Down Under, Mowzis?
  10. sergman89

    sergman89 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 74

    Very informative, and apprecaited. Thank you for sharing this. Jim I was wondering how many man hours does it take to install 1000 sq. ft. of Artificial Turf?

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