A Colorado Homeowner’s 800 Square Foot Artificial Grass Installation Cost

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jim and Morgan Gosselin, lifelong Colorado residents, had an 800 square foot front lawn that struggled to grow grass. They were familiar with artificial turf, as they had some installed in their backyard seven years prior, but their contractor cut corners. The Gosselin’s and their two dogs were left with a backyard that regularly smelled of urine. But, this summer, Jim and Morgan decided it was time to do it the right way – now being much more informed of the product selection and installation processes. Below they kindly share with us their artificial grass installation cost, their return on investment so far, as well as some beautiful before and after photos!

Artificial Grass Installation Process and Materials

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With a skilled crew, the topsoil was excavated from the Gosselin’s front lawn and replaced with a compacted subbase. Subbase is a non-expansive gravel mixture that creates an unmovable foundation for the turf. It’s a critical step for a lasting installation, as native soil will expand and contract from changing weather – an unstable surface that would create the look of wrinkles in your lawn over time.

But before dropping subbase onto the excavated site, installers secure the perimeter line with Bend-a-Board: a pliable composite board that turf is nailed to. Bend-a-Board creates the look of a realistic lawn edge and ensures a robust hold, as the perimeter is the most vulnerable area of every artificial grass installation. Once the board is secured, the subbase is then installed in 1-2″ layers, with each layer being lightly moistened with a hose and compacted with a vibratory plate compactor.

Following subbase comes weed barrier, an extra layer of defense against plants and critters; then finally, the artificial grass. From 40 variations to choose from, Jim and Morgan narrowed it down to Purchase Green’s Bluegrass Supreme for its comfort and style. Bluegrass Supreme is a plush 2.4″ tall grass with a 108 oz face weight, and its C-shaped grass blades provide better structural support to mitigate the appearance of matting patterns from foot traffic.

Due to the size of the Gosselin’s lawn, their installation required multiple pieces of grass, creating seams. Seaming is another particularly important part of the installation process. Installers must be precise and patient, ensuring that individual pieces are trimmed and lined appropriately to conceal the seam.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The final step is infill. Infill is a sand-like mixture that helps turf blades bounce back after being compressed, protects the backing material from UV exposure, and adds necessary weight to the application – mitigating excessive movement. The general rule of thumb is for infill to cover all but the top ¾” of the blade, roughly two to four pounds per square foot. Bear in mind that taller grasses do require a fair amount of infill in order to appropriately support blade ballast. For Jim and Morgan, they applied about 3 pounds of infill per square foot, and may still add more.

Another important note about infill is that there are different kinds for different use cases. For instance, the reason the Gosselin’s backyard struggles with odor retention is that their contractor opted for the cheapest infill option – Silica Sand. Silica Sand is a good basic infill, but the contractor either did not know or chose to not inform his customers that Silica Sand absorbs ammonia from urine, trapping odor (the ammonia buildup in pet urine is what you typically associate with the smell).

This time around, the Gosselin’s opted for Zeodorizer infill – an organic infill made to significantly reduce odors from pet waste. Zeodorizer contains zeolite – a natural, inert, non-toxic substance used as an absorbent for spills in food processing facilities and complies with federal and state environmental requirements. The zeolite and the method in which its mined creates a product that traps and neutralizes ammonia from pet urine. This is because Zeolite is a negatively charged honey-combed molecular structure that absorbs liquids and gases like a magnet, preventing the ammonia from forming a gas. This molecular structure holds the ammonia until the sodium ions (Na+) in rainwater release the magnetic ability, which forces the odor-causing bacteria into the ground – ultimately “flushing out” the ammonia smell. Cool stuff, right?

And by the end of the 4th installation day, the Gosselin’s had an entirely new landscape!

How Much Does It Cost to Install Artificial Grass?

Artificial grass installation costs can vary depending on multiple factors. For instance, are you installing yourself or hiring a contractor? Artificial turf installations can absolutely be done as a DIY project, and you’ll save a lot of money that way. However, while the process is pretty straightforward, it is quite labor-intensive, too. So, it’s best to dedicate a few days to the task – and recruit some help if you can.

On average, a Purchase Green DIY artificial grass project will cost between $3 – $6 per square foot, inclusive of turf and all accessories necessary to complete an installation (nails, infill, weed barrier, etc.).

On the other hand, turnkey installation rates have a much broader range that is heavily dependent on the region you’re located and the type of application you’re installing (putting green, playground, pet run, rooftop/patio, landscape). Labor rates can also increase due to the removal of rocks and roots, or installing around them –  or even from limited site accessibility that prolonged the installation. Typically, turnkey installation services for most residential application types fall somewhere between $7 – $14 per square foot.

Moreover, premium products and a premium installation method will also impact the total cost, which was the case for the Gosselins. Jim and Morgan opted for a premium turf (Bluegrass Supreme), a premium infill (Zeodorizer), and a premium installation method with perimeter edging (Bend-a-Board). In the end, the Gosselin’s total investment for their 800 square foot front yard turf installation was just under $11,000.

When shopping for installation quotes, it is to your benefit to be familiar with the basic necessities for a lasting artificial turf installation. When asked if they had any tips or recommendations for other homeowners considering a similar project, Jim responded:

“Take your time, select the right grass for the area, and do the research. Know what goes into a professional installation job and then hold the installer accountable to doing it the right way. We see a lot of corners getting cut to save on the cost of material, so the contractor makes more money. Things like not using proper infill, not doing weed barrier, edging techniques are lacking, and so on.”

Artificial Grass Saves You Money, Time, and Resources

According to their water bill, Jim and Morgan have saved approximately 12,000 gallons of water per month since installing artificial grass and now pay up to 22% less on their monthly bill! At this rate, the Gosselins will have completely paid off their artificial turf installation by 2027 – just under 6 years into the 20-year life expectancy of their turf. On average, artificial turf installations pay for themselves within the first 3-7 years.

A special thank you to Jim and Morgan Gosselin for kindly sharing their landscape journey with us!

How to Compare Competing Artificial Grass Estimates

At Purchase Green, we always encourage our customers to compare artificial grass estimates from a variety of sources. When collecting and comparing estimates, be sure to consider the cost and value factors listed below, ensuring that you get the best quality for your hard-earned dollar. 

Factor #1: Artificial Grass Quality

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The retail price of artificial grass mainly boils down to the amount of material required to make that product. Specifications such as face weight, total weight, and pile height are often the first indicators of cost rationalization. However, the material amount is not all that goes into producing high-quality artificial grass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purchase Green in particular uses special manufacturing technology to create unique grass yarns that provide different functions and aesthetics. Such as grass yarns that retain less heat, transfer less static electricity, and fight against bacteria. We also use a variety of backing materials to offer better solutions for those with specific performance needs. For example, there are certain backing materials that are easier to install in colder climates, are fully permeable, and backings that are more dimensionally stable for longevity.

Carefully compare your artificial grass estimates by looking at product specifications, as well as their features and benefits, then identify the cost you’re willing to pay for the quality.

Factor #2: Installation Methodology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Installing artificial grass does require a fair amount of skill and specific knowledge, so do not be afraid to ask your contractor about their installation methodology. Ask them how they hide seams or how they ensure your turf won’t wrinkle and bunch over time.

Purchase Green employees will often encourage customers to become familiar with the installation process. Knowing what you should expect from your contractor is extremely helpful as you shop around. Download our free DIY Install Guide to learn more about non-negotiable installation basics.

Factor #3: Installation Accessories

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Certain landscape projects will require additional accessory items – the most common is a perimeter board. The perimeter line is the most vulnerable part of every artificial grass installation and is the first to show wear and tear. For landscapes that anticipate high foot traffic, contractors should be recommending a perimeter solution to create a more robust installation.

Purchase Green offers Landscape Bend-a-Board, Sub-Grade Bend-a-Board, or Wonder Edge as perimeter solutions, depending on the aesthetic you prefer. Perimeter boards can add between $0.30 to $0.50 per square foot to the total job cost.

Additionally, depending on the pile height of the turf you’re installing or the foot traffic you anticipate having, you may need more infill. Also, different materials are used for different seaming methods, too, which will impact the material cost in artificial grass estimates. 

Factor #4: Labor Obstacles

artificial grass installed around roots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things like trees and roots, fences, large rocks, underground wiring for lights or other landscape fixtures, as well as poor site accessibility can impact your upfront cost. Pay attention to labor rates, as inexperienced teams could charge a premium for installing around obstacles they’re not familiar with. 

Skilled artificial grass installers should be able to install around root systems, fences, and wiring. However, even still, the extra time could potentially increase labor costs. Just make sure you’re hiring the right crew with the experience necessary for the job.

Factor #5: Installation and Product Warranties

Investigate what warranties different brands offer. How long and extensive is their installation warranty? Do they even provide a warranty on installation? What are the terms for their product warranty? For how long does their product warranty apply? 

Purchase Green in-house installation teams will offer standard installation warranties between 2-3 years, and all Purchase Green grasses (except for Ground Cover) will have a Limited Lifetime Product Warranty.

Ask About Payment Plans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a final tip, ask if your contractor or service provider offers financing options. Programs such as Wells Fargo Outdoor Solutions will partner with businesses to provide alternative payment options for their customers. Purchase Green offers two plans through Wells Fargo Outdoor Solutions – plans 1019 and 1193.

In plan 1019, customers have 12 months to pay off their total cost with no interest. However, regular minimum monthly payments are required and a backdated interest rate of 28.99% will be applied if the total cost is not paid within the 12-month term. Plan 1193, on the other hand, charges a fixed 9.9% interest rate and requires a minimum monthly payment of 2% of the total job cost.

In order to qualify for Purchase Green’s payment plans, the total project cost must be a minimum of $1,500. Moreover, Purchase Green financing cannot be applied to commercial installations. To easily and quickly apply online, go here.

Other popular home improvement financing programs that you might want to research are PACE and Ygrene.

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4 Ways to Inexpensively Install Artificial Grass | DIY Guide

Install Artificial Grass on a Budget

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Updated October 21, 2021:

We’re proud to announce the publication of our new “DIY Install Guide”. If you’re looking for more information about how to install artificial grass yourself, this is the guide for you. Click here to read our 2021 DIY Install Guide and become the expert on artificial turf installation.

So, you’re interested in artificial grass for your home, but not really feelin’ the up-front cost of installation? Today, we’re going to show you how to install artificial grass inexpensively, making modifications along the way to bring your project’s price tag down.

Make no mistake, though. In order for this to work, you’ll need to be prepared to get your hands dirty, put in a substantial amount of time and energy, and problem-solve as you go.

Further, while all of the techniques discussed below will reduce your price point, they will also increase the amount of labor you’ll have to do yourself. You’ll be using hand tools, like a shovel, and carrying up to 50 pounds repeatedly, even if you have help. 

Sound like the kind of challenge you’re up for? Let’s get to it!

There are five components to almost every installation that can be modified to reduce the cost of installing artificial grass without posing a significant threat to the performance and longevity of it. They are:

  1. Artificial Grass Remnants
  2. Subbase
  3. Site Layout
  4. Seaming Method
  5. Installation Tools

1. High-Quality, Low-Cost Artificial Grass Remnants

Depending on the total square footage of your project, artificial grass remnants can be a great money-saver! Remnants are unused turf pieces from past jobs that are sold at discounted rates. They vary in size, but will not typically be larger than 15′ x 15′.

Remnant availability is different from location to location, and they must be picked up from the store and cannot be delivered, but you can shop available remnants here before stopping in! Simply select the nearest location to you in the dropdown menu and shop what’s in stock – updated weekly.

However, keep in mind that artificial grasses are produced in dye lots. This means that two sepearately manufactured rolls of the same product type might have slight variations in color. If having remnant pieces from the same dye lot does not matter to you, great! But if it does, you can ask your Purchase Green representative to confirm if the dye lots are the same or different before buying.

Although, many DIYers have installed remnant pieces from different dye lots. Sometimes the individual pieces are installed in separate areas, or have planters or other landscape elements in between them – distracting the eye from their (somewhat) noticable difference in color.

2. The Secret to Low-Cost Subbase

Subbase. What is it? Who needs it? Well, if you’re installing artificial grass, you do, my friend. 

Subbase goes where your natural grass was once you’ve excavated down a few inches and before you install the grass. Its primary job is to prevent the natural expansion and contraction of your yard’s native soil from affecting the turf, thus preventing wrinkles from popping up.

In most professional installations, it’s one of three things:

  1. crushed miscellaneous base – CMB,
  2. class II road base, or
  3. decomposed granite.

Decomposed granite is considered the best of the three due to its superior drainage and ability to render a consistently flat surface. Certain types of installations, like putting greens, need decomposed granite subbase more in order to perform and last. 

The problem with decomposed granite is it’s expensive. 

Is there a workaround?

In most cases, you can get good performance and longevity out of artificial grass with the use of only a small amount of decomposed granite. In fact, only the top few inches of subbase need to be decomposed granite in order to get good drainage and overall performance. This means you can fill most of your excavated area with inexpensive class II or CMB, then just spread a few inches of decomposed granite on the surface. This will bring down the cost considerably and produce fair results.

That being said, there are some installations for which we never recommend skimping on decomposed granite subbase. If you receive lots of rainfall, or already have drainage issues in your yard, this strategy isn’t likely to work out. Be sure to discuss your project’s particulars with our turf experts for more guidance.

3. Save Money by Re-evaluating Your Layout and Reducing Material Waste

It’s virtually impossible that all the grass you purchase will be used up in your installation, unless your installation area is the exact shape and size of a roll of turf. Most likely, you’ll have to do some cutting and seaming together of multiple pieces, and some turf will be discarded. The trick here is to figure out how to make the most of a 13′ or 15′ wide roll of turf. One way to do that is to ignore the standard rule for grain direction.

Artificial grass grain direction is one of the main culprits behind wasted grass. Grain direction is the direction in which the grass blades are predominantly pointing – typically leaning from the top of the roll downward.

Crews will usually install artificial grass pieces so that their grain is facing the ‘main vantage point’, creating the most aesthetically-pleasing lawn. The main vantage point is where the lawn will be most often viewed from. For backyard installations, the main vantage point is usually the house. And for front yards, the main vantage point is the street.

However, irregularly-shaped installation sites can often result in excess material waste when you’re limited to laying turf pieces in only one particular direction. If perfect aesthetics aren’t terribly important to you, there’s a good chance you can save money by installing the pieces of grass you’ve purchased however they best fit the installation site, regardless of their grain direction.

4. The Seaming Method Hack

As mentioned above, you’ll probably have to cut and seam together multiple pieces of turf when you install artificial grass. Most of the time, this is accomplished using seaming tape, seaming glue, and nails. This method is considered the most secure and reliable, but also the most expensive. While the cost of seaming tape and glue might be negligible for a small installation, it can become substantial for larger ones.

The cheap alternative? Just use nails – a lot of them. This is a perfectly viable seaming method for some installations, though not quite as secure. Nails can and often do work loose over time and with enough foot traffic, so we only recommend this method if your grass isn’t going to get a lot of that.

If you’ve got a large installation area that won’t see much foot traffic, a box or two of inexpensive 5-inch nails might just do it.

5 (Bonus!). Cost-cutting Tools

When it comes to specialized tools for installing artificial grass, the options are endless. Professional install crews have a myriad of gizmos and gadgets at their disposal to make the work go faster, including tools like the sod cutter, plate compactor, power broom, turf cutter, turf gripper, puller, kicker, and the list goes on. If you wanted to do it by the book, you could rent all these tools to automate your installation project and impress your neighbors.

We’re guessing you’re not doing this by the book, though. If not, our recommendation to you is to ditch the fancy gear and get back to basics with hand tools. It turns out, just about everything those power tools do can be done with low-tech hand tools. Switch out the sod cutter for a pick-ax, the plate compactor for a hand compactor, the power broom for a push broom, and the turf cutter for a carpet knife. Just get ready to apply some serious elbow grease and work up a sweat!

Even though it’ll take some hard work, it’s well worth it. If you’re still unsure about how to install artificial grass, we have a super helpful DIY guide. The guide has step-by-step instructions on how to install artificial grass, so you’ll have all the info you need to have an easier install process. And, of course, our PG team is always happy to help if you come across any issues or have any questions before, during, or even after your install. Check out that artificial grass installation guide to get the low-down on how to install artificial grass yourself!

Installing artificial grass yourself may appear to be a daunting task. While it’s certainly a lot of work, Purchase Green is here to make it as easy, painless, and inexpensive as possible.

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