visible wrinkles in turf

7 Tips for Preventing Wrinkles in Artificial Grass

Wrinkles in artificial grass are a common but treatable outcome of manufacturing – due to the method and duration in which turf is stored. However, while wrinkles in turf can be removed prior to installation and steps can be taken to prevent them from forming in the future, the wrinkles that occur post-install are incredibly difficult (and often costly) to fix. So, today we’re discussing 7 tips to avoid wrinkles in artificial grass.

Why Wrinkles, Creases, and Lines Appear in the First Place

If you’ve ever left your clean clothes in the dryer for too long, or neglected to put them away immediately, then you probably get the gist of what can happen to the turf.

At various stages of manufacturing, artificial grass is exposed to extreme heat, then immediately rolled around a cylinder tube where it remains for weeks until it reaches the final destination. Within that time, the turf has completely cooled and settled into its shape around the cylinder. Sometimes the roll will become loose, and the turf will start to bunch and crinkle in a way it’s not supposed to, and after a while that bunching creates wrinkles.

But fear not, wrinkles can be relaxed! We’ve summarized our recommended precautionary measures into the 7 tips below.

How to Prevent Wrinkles in Artificial Grass

Tip #1: Unroll and Warm

One of the first steps of every artificial grass installation is to completely unroll the turf in full sun exposure for at least one hour – preferably two hours. The warmth will relax the stiff backing material, allowing the blades to stand upright and release any creases. At this point, most – if not all – wrinkles will be gone.

visible wrinkles in artificial grass

A new roll of turf that has just been laid out to relax

wrinkles removed from artificial grass

After some time, the turf should not show any lines or creases

Tip #2: Excavate Soil and Organic Debris

No matter what, never skip soil excavation. It’s not the corner you want to cut. Removing pre-existing soil from an installation site is critical for a long-lasting application. Organic soil will naturally expand and contract due to changes in climate, creating an unstable foundation for turf and will result in the look of wrinkles over time.

For most installation sites, a minimum excavation depth of 3 inches will suffice. Then, replace the excavated soil with a non-expansive base mixture – common base types are Class 2 Roadbase or Crushed Miscellaneous Base (CMB). Moreover, while excavating, be sure to remove roots and other large chunks or groupings of organic debris that would decompose over time. When this material breaks down, it’s possible for it to create gaps in your base that could concave and create the look of divots in the yard.

Tip #3: Aim for 95-98% Subbase Compaction

Speaking of subbase, it’s really important that it is sufficiently compacted – your goal should be between 95-98% compaction. To achieve this, Purchase Green installation pros recommend installing the base in “lifts,” or layers, that are roughly 1-2 inches thick. After each layer of subbase is dropped, lightly moisten with a hose and walk over with a vibratory plate compactor 2-3 times.

Again, the point of removing the native soil, replacing it with a non-expansive base mixture, and then compacting that base mixture is to create an un-moving foundation for artificial grass. Otherwise, a foundation that continually shifts will eventually cause the turf to look like a carpet that needs to be stretched.

how to prevent wrinkles in turf

Installer spreads a 1″ layer of subbase

Installer begins compacting the subbase with a vibratory plate compactor

Tip #4: Use a Carpet Kicker

Carpet kickers are a must-have installation tool for artificial grass. Just like carpet, turf comes in a roll where the material becomes compressed and – once it’s being installed – could use a few extra tugs to ensure it’s pulled nice and taut.

First, appropriately orient and rough cut the turf to fit the general shape of the perimeter. Next, anchor one side of the turf’s perimeter line with a row of 5″ non-galvanized nails spaced 6 inches apart. After the row of anchor nails has been set along the top perimeter, use a carpet kicker to stretch the turf outward. As you kick and stretch, loose turf will begin to bunch; just in from the bunched material, hammer the non-galvanized nail where the turf is now pulled taut, securing the hold. Continue stretching and securing in horizontal rows with nails every 2-3 square feet – or approximately 2 feet between each row and 2 feet between each nail – like a grid.

Tip #5: Secure the Perimeter

Did you know that the perimeter is the most vulnerable part of an artificial grass installation? This is why installing a perimeter board is strongly suggested for areas that expect to receive moderate to heavy amounts of foot traffic – as the perimeter is the most susceptible to visible wear over time. Without a strong perimeter hold, the interior of the application becomes compromised and is susceptible to wrinkles.

Purchase Green recommends using sub-grade Bend-a-Board, which adds about $0.30 per square foot to the total job cost. While the use of a perimeter board mainly serves a structural purpose – providing a sturdy boundary along the outermost edges of your project for a more robust installation – Bend-a-Board also adds an aesthetic bonus by creating realistic curvatures.

For the most realistic appearance, the top of your Bend-A-Board and the top of your subbase should be about 1/2-inch below the grade of any bordering sidewalks, patios, and walkways. This maximizes the amount of pile height that is exposed above the adjacent flatwork. However, this gap between the height of the base and constructed restraint can be greater or less depending on the pile height of the turf being installed and personal aesthetic preferences. If you have any questions, consult with your Purchase Green Install Pro.

Tip #6: Add Weight with Infill

Infill serves three main purposes: 1) protects the backing material from UV exposure, extending the useful life of turf, 2) supports blade ballast, supporting the grass blades against foot traffic and preventing them from matting down permanently, and 3) adds weight to the application.

Most synthetic turf products and the components they’re made of will expand and contract as temperatures rise and cool – just as we discussed with native soil. Infill helps to combat this excess movement by adding weight and holding the turf in place. The amount of infill that is needed depends on the density and pile height of the artificial grass being installed, as well as the expected foot traffic. At a minimum, Purchase Green recommends that infill be added at a rate of 2-3 lbs per square foot.

Tip #7: Purchase Green Products that Fight Against Wrinkles in Artificial Grass

In early 2020, Purchase Green introduced a line of products with a particularly special backing material: ArmorLoc 3L©.

What’s most distinguishable about ArmorLoc 3L is its construction. With traditional manufacturing, the 2-3 layers in a primary backing would be held together solely by individually tufted fibers, but this resulted in a backing system vulnerable to excess movement over time.

In response to this manufacturing flaw, ArmorLoc 3L was designed, which uses three layers of a polypropylene and polyester blend that are woven and stitched together before the tufting process. The layers are arranged in such a way that the direction of each’s filaments are intersecting in different directions, producing a non-directional primary backing material that increases the finished product’s dimensional stability and significantly reduces movement.

Purchase Green grasses with an ArmorLoc 3L backing material are:

When it comes to successful artificial grass installations, preparation is key. It’s always worth the time to do the research to know exactly what to expect – whether you’re a handy DIY’er or a seasoned landscape professional!

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Artificial Grass Installation DIY: My Experience, Tips, and Insights!

Are you a DIYer looking for guidance on how to start your artificial grass project? Or maybe you’ve already started and got stuck looking for the answers you need. It’s Shayla here with Purchase Green, and I’m happy to help! I’m going to take you through the steps of artificial grass installation DIY.

I’ve been wanting to do my own artificial grass installation DIY for a while. When my parents told me that they wanted some artificial grass for a dog run, I was super excited to help them out! I was finally going to be able to put into practice all of the knowledge I had been learning and writing about for months as a member of the Purchase Green marketing department.

Before we get into it, I just want to iterate that every project is different. My project is a 50 square foot dog run, which is obviously a different experience from installing an entire backyard full of grass. However, the quantity of material and time taken are potentially the two biggest differences there may be between my project and yours. 

Also, even though I work at Purchase Green, I am not an installer. As I researched for my project, I realized that a lot of the DIY artificial grass content out there is not actually DIY. I found that many of the DIY videos were done by entire professional installation crews. So I wanted to make sure that this project was actually do-it-yourself. I went through the whole process that an average DIYer would experience. I have never done anything like this before, but I’m going to try my best to outline everything that can help your DIY project go smoothly. So let’s jump into it!

Here’s a video of the entire process, starting with materials and going all the way through the finished product.

What You’ll Need

Here are all of the tools, accessories, and miscellaneous things we used for the installation broken out between things we already had at home and things we bought at Purchase Green:

We had:

  • Square nosed shovel
  • Bucket
  • Measuring tape
  • Gardening gloves
  • Trash bags
  • Cup
  • Hammers

We bought:

Because we wanted this to be as easy and low-cost as possible, we opted for a basic installation that doesn’t require any kind of perimeter product like Bend-a-Board. The basic installation isn’t as robust as far as securing the grass and making it look perfect, but my parents were just looking for a nice touch of green and wanted their dog to not track dirt and mud into the house. Easy enough! We followed along with the Purchase Green 2021 DIY Installation Guide. Let’s get into the backyard!

Site Walk & Prep

In the housing complex where my parents live, they can submit landscaping requests for free. There was a huge bed of dead plants and weeds in this space. Luckily, that was able to be taken care of by the complex, so we were left with this patch of dirt.

We started by measuring the dimensions of the space – 26’x2′. We knew we could save a ton of money by using remnants – and the space was small enough that we would have some great options. We had to keep in mind that Purchase Green doesn’t cut remnants – they come as-is. So we hopped on the remnants shop on the Purchase Green website and found our local store – San Marcos.

When picking the right grass, I considered a few things:

  • the square footage of the remnants and how they’d fit together
  • if it was a good grass for dogs
  • if it had Cool Yarn to keep the grass a little cooler when it’s in the sun

I ended up finding two Arizona Pro remnants that would fit great in the space and would work for their dog, Peaches. Arizona Pro is a Cool Yarn grass so it’ll reflect more heat from the sun, and it can withstand high traffic – perfect for Peaches!

After picking our remnants, we moved onto tools and accessories – what we were going to need to actually install. Since our installation was only 50 sq.ft., we only needed one 10lb box of 5″ nails and the smallest roll of weed barrier. We decided that since our one seam was only going to be 2 feet long, we would just use nails instead of seaming tape and glue. Again, not as robust, but more cost and labor-effective.

For our infill, we decided on HeroFill since it’s the best option for areas with pets. Regular silica infill stinks when pets use the area, but Herofill controls odors caused by pets, mildew, and mold – it’s also antimicrobial. We got two 50lb bags of infill, but we only ended up using one. We got a turf broom to brush up the fibers and get the infill down toward the backing. We also got a carpet knife to cut the remnants and 8″ shears to cut the weed barrier. And finally, we bought some Turf Bomb for added odor prevention and treatment down the road.

Excavation

After picking up all of our materials at the San Marcos store, we got it back to the house and finished excavating the site. We opted out of using a subbase for, once again, cost and labor reasons. If you have a bigger or unleveled space, or if you need a better drainage solution, I’d recommend subbase. Subbase also helps prevent weeds and movement of the turf, so it’s definitely something to consider. I think the finished product would’ve turned out a little better if we did have a subbase underneath, but we just didn’t want to deal with it.

The recommended excavation depth is 3-4 inches with a subbase. Because we didn’t use subbase, we excavated about 2 inches below the cement line because our Arizona Pro grass is 1.7″ tall, and we didn’t want there to be a huge dip going from the patio to the grass. We removed as much organic material left in the dirt as we could because as that decomposes, the turf can shift and wrinkle. We compacted the soil with a square-nosed shovel. A hand tamper would’ve worked better, but we didn’t have one.

Underlayment

After we compacted the soil, it was time to lay the weed barrier. We nailed one side down first so it wouldn’t blow away, then rolled it out and folded it to fit the space. We used the whole roll and used the 8″ shears to cut around the fence poles and big concrete slabs along the fence. Then we nailed it down every foot or so along the perimeter.

Measuring, Cutting & Orienting

We brought in the Arizona Pro remnants and unrolled them to sit in the sun for a bit to get the blades to stand up. We wanted the grass grain to face the house, so we took the larger piece and lined up the already cut edge with the cement. We left overlap on the other sides because we were going to have to cut around some poles and concrete. Once we got it lined up how we wanted, we nailed down one side, stretched the other side and started cutting along the fence line.

Definitely take your time measuring and cutting because once you make a cut, that’s it. We got our edges trimmed and started nailing everything down. We nailed every 6 inches along the perimeter and every foot down the middle. Something I found when nailing is that it’s important to try and keep the grass blades out from underneath the nail head. You want the nail to get right into the backing in between stitch rows, and if there are grass blades stuck underneath the nail, you can see the top of the nail in the ground.

Seaming

When it came to placing the other remnant, we made sure the grass grain was facing the same direction as the other one so that they’d look natural together. We lined up the cut edge the same as we did before and stretched it out and cut the overlap along the fence. Before we started nailing, we made sure that the edge along the fence would be the right length for the seam to line up. We got it all stretched and ready and started nailing the perimeter like before. When it came time to nail down the seam, I lined up the stitch rows so it’d look as seamless as possible, and started nailing every couple of inches in a staggered kind of zig-zag line. And it ended up looking pretty good, I was proud of myself! 

Infill

After we finished all the nailing, we stepped back to admire our handiwork. And then went right into infill. We didn’t have a drop spreader or anything so we just used a big cup to disperse it. It worked pretty well and we were able to get into the corners easily. I’d walk back and forth dropping the infill and my stepdad would follow behind working the infill into the grass with the turf broom. It was some good teamwork!

We got through the first bag of infill, and it seemed sufficient. Usually, you want 2-4 lbs of infill per square foot. Maybe we just wanted to be done, but opening a second 50lb bag of infill seemed like a lot, so we called it after one bag. We still have the second bag if we do decide to add some more later.

Finishing Up

After about 5 hours of work, we showed the finished lawn to my mom and their dog, Peaches. Peaches was suspicious at first, but she got used to it. Overall, we were all happy with how it turned out.

I’ve been to a handful of artificial grass installations and have gotten to watch the professional installers do their thing – and do it fantastically. After doing this little DIY installation, I cannot express enough how amazing our installers are at their jobs. It’s a tough job that takes incredible skill and attention to detail. I definitely learned a lot from this and I’m glad I get to share it with others trying to DIY their own project. In a nutshell, here are the key insights I’ve learned from my DIY project:

  • Talk to an expert! Because I work at Purchase Green and maybe know more about artificial grass than the average DIYer, I had an advantage in knowing where to go for knowledge and resources, but everything I used is available to any other DIYer! The DIY Guide was an incredible tool, and I reached out to our installation experts to help me get an idea of all the materials I would need. You can absolutely reach out to your local Purchase Green to get expert advice and help if you’re feeling stuck. You can get all of your questions answered 100%.
  • Manage your expectations! Going into this project, I knew it was not going to turn out how I’ve seen professional installations turn out. I know my skill level as far as landscaping experience goes – I have none. And I knew that we weren’t going to do a lot of the recommended methods for installation – like excavating, subbase, and perimeter board. So I knew it wasn’t going to be perfect. And I kept that in mind as I was installing. I sure did my best to make it look good and followed the directions, but in the end, the project is yours. You can decide the level you want to commit to making it look like a professional installation, whether that’s based on your budget, or labor, or something else.
  • Have help! I worked on this project with my stepdad and it was so much better than if I tried to do it by myself. Not only does he know a lot more about landscaping than I do, but it was just more fun to work alongside someone. And it made it go by so much faster. I one-hundred percent recommend having a helper or putting together your own little installation crew to have it take less time.
  • Choose the right remnants! I scoured the San Marcos remnant page for a long time before deciding on the Arizona Pros. I already knew that Arizona Pro would be a good grass for the dog, and I didn’t want remnants that were way too big or not big enough. They ended up being a nice width so we didn’t have to cut too much off, but we did end up having a lot of length left over. We made a nice doormat for the garage. If you do choose the remnant route, the thing to remember about remnants is that there isn’t the typical lifetime product warranty on them and they do come as-is, so you can’t have them cut when you pick them up in-store. 

And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed going on this DIY journey with me, and I hope it shed some light on starting your artificial grass DIY project with realistic expectations. If you have any questions, feel free to call us at 844-TURF-444 or contact your local Purchase Green to get help. And don’t forget to check out the DIY Installation Guide to walk you through a proper artificial grass installation DIY!

affordable artificial grass

4 Ways to Inexpensively Install Artificial Grass | DIY Guide

Install Artificial Grass on a Budget

affordable artificial grass

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.