Fake turf stays green all year, unlike true grass.

How to Install Fake Turf on a Dirt Surface

by Shala Munroe

With shady yards that can't grow grass or active kids who keep killing your lawn, choose the long-lasting option of artificial turf to cover the dirt. Used mostly on sports fields, this durable lawn alternative gives you the look of grass without the maintenance. It requires no watering, fertilizing or mowing -- just an occasional sweep or passover with the blower to remove leaves or other vegetation tracked onto the grass.

Rake the dirt with a steel garden rake to remove rocks, sticks and other debris. Rake the dirt from high spots into low spots to help create a level surface.

Tamp down the dirt by laying a short piece of scrap lumber over the dirt and pounding it with a rubber mallet. Continue moving the lumber across the dirt area until it's all tamped down. For large areas, rent a mechanical tamper from a home improvement store to make the job easier.

Pour about 1 inch of crushed rock, also called decomposed granite, over the dirt area. Spread it evenly with a steel garden rake. Tamp it down in the same manner as the dirt.

Unroll the artificial turf, which comes in long sheets up to 15 feet wide. Trim it to fit the space using a utility knife. Unroll a second sheet next to the first, if necessary, butting the edges tightly together.

Secure the edges of the turf with galvanized landscape staples or 40d nails, hammering them in with a rubber mallet. Space the staples or nails every 6 to 12 inches along the perimeter of the turf. Add a few staples or nails along the interior of the turf as well, although these can be spaced farther apart, such as every 24 inches or more.

Fill a drop spreader with 20-grit silica sand and spread it evenly over the fake turf. Brush the turf with a push broom to ensure the sand evenly distributes and to force sand down into the turf. It should sit below the blades on the turf backing to help anchor the turf.

Items you will need

  • Steel garden rake
  • Lumber
  • Rubber mallet
  • Mechanical tamper
  • Crushed rock
  • Utility knife
  • Galvanized landscape staples
  • 40d nails
  • Drop spreader
  • 20-grit silica sand
  • Push broom

About the Author

Based outside Atlanta, Ga., Shala Munroe has been writing and copy editing since 1995. Beginning her career at newspapers such as the "Marietta Daily Journal" and the "Atlanta Business Chronicle," she most recently worked in communications and management for several nonprofit organizations before purchasing a flower shop in 2006. She earned a BA in communications from Jacksonville State University.

Photo Credits

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