There is a well established industry standard that is recommended for installation of artificial grass. Unfortunately many installers do not follow these recommendations, nor do they remain focused on the quality of workmanship or the concept that it is imperative to build a system that will be long-lasting. The steps you take, the methods you use, and the products that you implement to complete that process is what can vary, and vary it does!
There are A LOT of ways to cut corners in the process to reduce cost and speed up the time it takes. There is also significant skill required by the installer for most of the steps depending on the difficulty of the space. For instance, if your space is a square less than 15 feet wide then the installation is very straightforward and most people with moderate experience can achieve success. This is a relatively small area with a straightforward application.
It is when you have areas that are wider than 15 feet and require seaming, or there are curves and a lot of edges, or slopes and hills or trees where it starts to get complicated. There are many factors that can alter the outcome of an artificial grass installation and everybody's yard is a little different, It is important to hire a company that has had at least 8 years of experience and performs grass jobs every single day to have run up against all of the possible complications that arise. Even in our 15th year of business, we still see things out of the ordinary, but our vast experience allows us to adapt and still get a great installation complete. It is a two step process, if you paint with a broad brush. However, as you will see, each step is multifaceted and requires attention to detail in certain spots. Let's take a closer look at how your artificial lawn will be installed.
Step One: Preparing the Base
This is the step where the existing grass is removed, if there is any, and an aggregate base is put down which the artificial grass will be laid on top of. It sounds straight forward but it's not. All of the old grass must be completely removed beforehand. Different types of grass require different removal methods. For example, Bermuda grass has runners and must be removed utilizing a sod cutter unlike other types which me be removed with a mulching technique called sheeting. Next, the aggregate base is applied by the installer. How the base is put down can vary; and if there are obstacles in the space they can pose a challenge. Wayward pipes, large rocks, or permanent yard fixtures must be dealt with by expert installers. This is not the time for a team of novices to show up and try their hand at it. If the base is not put down correctly the most common problem that happens is your grass will start to ripple over time like in this picture.
Step Two: Installing The Artificial Grass
Installing the artificial grass is most often where you can tell an amateur installer from a professional, especially when it comes to larger spaces that require seaming and edging. These are the trickiest parts that require the most skill and know how on the part of the installer. Some companies use a glue seam, while others use proprietary processes for joining the edges together. Either are fine, they just need to be done by a professional installer. In this picture you can see what happens if the seam is not done correctly. Always make sure the person installing your lawn is a seasoned professional.
You can't fix the install once a seem fails like this. This yard had to be completely redone costing the homeowner thousands of dollars. You also can't fix an install when the edging fails like in this picture.
Installing artificial grass correctly the first time is imperative if you want a lawn that can withstand seasonal temperature fluctuations as well as normal wear and tear. The installer must be knowledgeable and experienced.
Here is an example of how installers cut corners. In this picture the installer never bothered to secure the edge properly so it can easily be lifted up. Over time this edge will fail and the only option will be total replacement.
We will leave you with our favorite though. Here is a great example of where an installer was simply over their head. They had no idea how to install the artificial grass on the slope of this yard and here is the result over time.
It is unfortunate for this home owner because the installers they hired to do this job did not have the expertise and could not fix it even though they tried. The only option was starting completely over. Ouch. So how do you prevent this from happening to your lawn? After all, all artificial lawns look the same post installation. Problems begin to show themselves after a few months or years of wear and tear and temperature fluctuation. By that time, most warranties have expired and the lawn owner is stuck. The best way to prevent this from happening to your artificial lawn is simple. Before installation, ask these questions.
Artificial Grass: Important Questions for Your Installer
1. How long have you been in business? This one seems pretty straightforward. However, there is one exception. Typically, you want to find a company that has been installing artificial lawns for at least 8 years. Companies with this much experience have seen a lot. They have had to deal with rolling terrain, large areas, small areas and oddly shaped areas. They are more adept at handling challenging seams and tight corners. Also, they are more familiar with how seasonal temperature changes will affect your lawn.
Remember though, I mentioned an exception? This would be a company where the owner owner is an individual who left another company to start their own. So while their company may only be a few years old, they have years of experience and know how. They will probably tell you this up front as part of their sales pitch. Simply ask them for referrals to verify.
2. How Experienced are your Installers? You should always as k this question. There is a huge difference between a company that has a 5 person team with 15 years experience, and a company with an installer who has 8 years of experience. The more experience the better. You want an installer who knows what they are doing. This goes further than just minimizing risk. Experienced installers are efficient. They do not get “stuck” and have to wait for a more experienced staff person to show up and help them complete the job. They are used to dealing with on the job curve balls and know how to handle them. You might even ask them what their most challenging install was and see how they handled it. The more information the better.
3. May I see your portfolio? Any artificial grass installation business should have a portfolio of their work. It shows they take pride in what they do and also provides them an opportunity to give potential customers a great visual of the finished product. More than likely they will have before and after pictures to give you an idea of how artificial grass completely transforms a space. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Artificial grass installations prove it. Ask to see them.
4. Do you have references? More than likely, they will be happy to provide these as well. If possible, ask for a mixture of residential and business customers spanning a few years. This will lessen the chance of you getting referrals from people who are friends or family. You want an honest opinion of the installation, but more importantly. Plus, you can arrange to visit these locations and see how the finished product looks after a few months or years have passed.
5. Does my installation carry a warranty and what does it cover? Asking this question is a must. More than likely, the artificial grass itself carries some type of warranty. Typically, most are covered for a certain period of years against fading. For instance, after our installer is finished, your lawn is covered for a period of 10 years against color fading. There may be a warranty or guarantee associated with installation as well. Just ask. It is important to have all of your bases covered.
6. How are you different than other companies? How they answer this question will give you a lot of insight into the company and their practices. Don't accept generic answers either. For instance, if you get an answer like, “We give great customer service!” ask what that means. For us, giving great customer service means owning our own artificial grass company. This allows us to be a one stop shop for our customers and minimize risk. We are not just another artificial grass installation company, we are a full service business that can guide you from the beginning. We can help you select the best option for your space and install it too. This is how we respond when asked this question.
We have decades of combined artificial grass installation experience and we are the perferred artificial grass installation company for the likes of Google, Salesforce, GoDaddy, and Twitter among others. We can say with a high degree of certainty that the experience and knowledge of the installation crew is more important than the type of artificial grass you choose. The companies you are going to be talking to will all likely have good sales people but what about the crew behind them? Take the time to research them too because you don't want the headaches of a bad install.