Laying down turf or artificial grass

Putting down a solid layer of high-quality turf is the foundation to a great garden and is probably one of the first things on your mind when you take on a new garden landscaping job. A good lawn is central to most clients’ backyard ideas, after all.

With experience of landscaping services, you’ve probably also encountered clients who need artificial grass put down, often for a wide variety of different reasons. It could be a covering for a children’s play area, or for a space for playing sports. For some, it’s a straightforward, low-maintenance solution for their outdoor space. Fortunately, its installation is straightforward too.

Read on for a quick reminder of the steps involved in installing the ideal lawn for your client, whether turf or artificial. This can serve as a handy guide for clients interested in the process or even as a quick reference for you to check you’re all stocked up on the supplies and tools needed at each stage.

  • 1. Laying down turf, an overview

    1) Prepare well in advance

    As you know, the space you’ll be laying turf in will need work as early as a week before you properly get started. Cover the ground with a general-purpose fertiliser, level the ground out and remove any obstacles such as rocks. You might also decide you need some additional topsoil at this stage. Bring it over in your wheelbarrow and spread with a rake. With this done, compress the surface by walking on it and rake it one more time.

    If you’ve got other tasks to do for this client, such as installing garden decking, a patio or decorative fencing, you’ll be able to get on with this work for the next few days while you’re waiting for the ground to be ready.

    2) Put the turf in place

    Put each section of turf down, making a pattern similar to that of a brick wall. You know what technique works best for you, but if you’re working across a large area, you’ll probably choose to keep a plank of wood to hand that you can walk on instead of walking on the turf itself.

    3) Trim and push down

    Use your spade or a sharp knife to cut any extra pieces off the turf, then push them all firmly into place with the back of your rake.

    4) Water and wait

    With the turf in place, water generously. Make sure your client is aware that they should avoid mowing their new lawn for at least a few weeks, so that the turf has time to settle. In the meantime, ask them to water it regularly (or do it yourself if you’re sticking around to carry out other jobs around the property). If they don’t already have one, we recommend this watering can or a sprinkler – it’s simple, it’s sturdy and it does the job.

  • 2. Video guides

    There are some great videos online that look at the process in a way that is accessible even to non-tradespeople. Some of the following might be of interest, especially to your clients:

    • How to lay turf – a video overview by George Davies

    • Peacock Landscapes video on laying turf

  • 3. Putting down artificial grass, a reminder

    1) Prepare the area

    As with many landscaping jobs, you’ll begin with the usual process of clearing the area. With a turf cutter or spade, dig out any turf that’s already in the space. You can judge how far down to dig, but normally it will be roughly a couple of inches, leaving space for the artificial grass to protrude half an inch or so above the edging.

    2) Lay down your edging

    You might choose timber, brick, concrete or metal edging – whichever works best with the space and the terrain.

    3) Create an even surface

    Having already chosen between sand aggregate, grit aggregate and crushed stone aggregate, spread your base layer across the surface of the area for the artificial grass. It goes without saying, but making choices that will work in terms of surface drainage is key here. Next, add a layer of sharp sand, compact it, and even out the surface by spreading it.

    4) Beat those weeds

    As you’ll know all too well, weeds are the natural enemy of artificial grass. Put down weed control fabric at this stage and you’ll prevent them popping up in the future.

    5) Put down shock-absorbing material

    You’ll have your own opinion on whether this stage is necessary for the job you’re working on or not. If it is, get out your utility knife to trim the material to size and then lay it down.

    6) Roll out the grass

    With your surface now fully prepared, it’s time to move onto the main event. Prepare your artificial grass in any ways needed, such as removing any borders and applying adhesive to joins between multiple strips of grass. Then square the grass up with the corners of the area it’s intended to cover and roll it out. If you have other garden landscaping tasks to carry out for this client, now’s your chance to get on with them, as you leave the grass to sit for an hour or so.

    7) Fix the grass in place

    By now, you’ll see the end very much in sight. You probably already have to hand whichever items you’ve decided are best for affixing grass to the area you’re dealing with. You might have opted for adhesive, nails or tape. If you’re using tape or adhesive, you’ll pack the grass and its joints down at the end by going for a walk on it.

    8) Finishing touches

    Having left the grass to sit for a day, pour some silica sand onto the grass, spread it through evenly and finally sweep it with a broom to ensure a really even distribution.

    For a client-friendly look at artificial grass installation, take a look at this video by Namgrass UK.


  • How do I install turf?

    Start your project by preparing well in advance. You’ll then want to consider how you put the turf in place, as well as offer your clients the guidance they need to maintain their new lush green lawn. Read our guide above on how to install turf.

  • What are the essentials for installing turf?

    Before you start installing your client’s new turf, it’s important that you have all the right tools. The gear you’ll need to install turf can be categorised into: drainage, garden tools and landscaping accessories.

    Tick off the essentials for installing turf >>