17 Questions to Help You Choose an Artificial Grass Installer
Finding a good artificial grass installer can be frustrating.
You’ll have seen many horror stories in the newspapers and on TV regarding rogue traders and cowboy tradesmen.
Unfortunately, the artificial grass industry is no exception to this.
The demand for artificial grass over the past ten years has grown at an extremely fast rate.
The quality of artificial grass available on the market has become so good that it’s now difficult to tell the difference between a real and a fake lawn.
The numerous benefits of artificial grass appeal to many homeowners, both young and old, throughout the UK.
And with our increasingly busy lives, a low maintenance garden that’s perfect for children and pets is highly sought after and valued by many families.
This increased demand has, of course, attracted plenty rogue traders looking to make a quick buck.
However, it takes more than just a van and some tools to be a good artificial grass installer.
But what exactly should you be looking for when choosing an installer?
We’ve written our latest guide to help you find the right tradesman for the job.
The best place to begin your search is to look online and speak to friends and family for recommendations.
Next, we recommend you contact three local installers and ask them to visit your property, take measurements and provide you with a written quote.
But what questions should you be asking them when they visit? How will you know whether they are competent enough to carry out the work?
Below, we’ve compiled a list of 17 questions to ask a potential artificial grass installer
1. Do they provide written quotes?
First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure that potential installers provide you with a written quote.
This should be provided free of charge.
Verbal quotes are worthless as they cannot be relied upon if things go wrong, if the job doesn’t turn out how you expected or if you find yourself being charged more than you verbally agreed.
A written quote should clearly explain all the work involved, the materials to be used and, of course, the final cost to you.
Don’t trust prices or estimates that are given over the phone, as it’s impossible for a contractor to give an accurate price without visiting your home.
Each job is unique and, unfortunately, an installer cannot have a set price per square metre.
Always insist on getting your quote in writing.
Be sure that the price on the quotation includes VAT, as some contractors may present their price without it.
Confirm this with the contractor to avoid the nasty shock of the installation costing you 20% more than you had anticipated, or budgeted for.
Of course, always bear in mind that you can expect the installer to charge more for any additional work you ask them to complete whilst they are on site, if it’s not included in the agreed written quote.
Many artificial grass installers also carry out other types of landscaping works such as patios, paths and maybe even fencing.
If you are also looking to have this kind of work carried out, check whether this is something your artificial grass installer can complete for you at the same time.
It will save you money, and it’ll also be easier to manage if you just have one contractor on site to carry out all of the landscaping works at the same time
2. Do they have insurance?
Occasionally things go wrong.
Before hiring an installer, always check that they have up-to-date public liability insurance. If any accidents occur because of their work, they can claim against their insurance.
As a minimum, a reputable contractor should have at least £2m worth of cover.
You can check that an installer has public liability insurance by asking them to show you a copy of their insurance certificate.
You can then call up their insurance company and confirm that the policy is still valid.
3. Do they have a portfolio?
To ensure that a landscaper or installer is competent to install your artificial lawn, you should ask to see their portfolio.
Many installers these days will have a website where you can view pictures of their previous work.
They may also be able to show you pictures of their previous installations when they conduct their site visit.
It’s always a very good idea to ask for addresses to check their past installations for yourself. This is the best way to get an idea of the standards that they work to and it allows you to speak to past customers.
Before and after photos will also help you to visualise how your own new artificial lawn may look.
4. Can they give you references?
Don’t just take a company’s word for how great they are, any good artificial grass installer will be armed with testimonials and references.
Following on from above, it’s always a good idea to ask a potential installer for contact details for previous customers.
Before contacting anyone, though, you should make sure that the installer has permission from their past customer for you to do so.
Speaking to past customers allows you to verify their testimonials and ask questions about the installer regarding the installation, the customer service and after sales support.
Negative feedback should obviously be a cause for concern.
Ideally visiting previous customers to look at the installation (and the type of grass that was used) is advisable.
5. Do they have samples to show you?
Unless you have already chosen the artificial grass that you would like to use, be sure to ask potential installers to bring samples.
You can also request artificial grass samples from our website, free of charge.
Your installer should be able to explain the differences between each grass, the benefits of each, and also recommend which grass would be most suitable to meet your needs.
The best way to view samples is by laying them side by side on your existing real lawn. This will show you the differences between each and how realistic they are.
You should never compare samples inside as the lighting will be much different to the lighting outside and therefore you will not get a true idea of how your new artificial lawn would look.
6. Who manufactures their grass?
Always check the manufacturer’s website for further information on the grass you have chosen.
As with anything, there is good quality and bad quality artificial grass. Here’s a quick list of things you should check:
- Where is the grass manufactured? – Due to strict EU regulations, European grass tends to be much better than that manufactured in China.
- What type of plastic fibre is your grass made from? – There are three main types: polypropylene, polyethylene or nylon (polyamide). Nylon is the hardest wearing and can be up to 33% stronger than polyethylene and 26% stronger than polypropylene.
For hard-wearing, highly resilient artificial grass we recommend choosing a grass with Instant Recovery technology.
Polypropylene and polyethylene tend to be softer plastics, but remember, the softer the plastic, the weaker it is.
Of course, that’s not to say that this type of fibre does not have its place. For instance, it’s great for a front garden that receives little use.
A good astro turf installer will be able to explain which grass will best suit your circumstances.
- How long is the guarantee? – Look for a guarantee of at least 8 years.
- Has it been tested for harmful substances? – Some artificial grasses have been found to contain harmful substances, such as lead. Check with your manufacturer for independently tested and verified certifications, such as Oeko-Tex.
7. How will they carry out the installation?
There are several different artificial grass installation methods.
The best method to use will depend on your individual circumstances and application.
For example, the methods used to install artificial grass on concrete are different from those used to replace an existing lawn with a fake lawn.
A good fake grass installer will be able to talk you through the different options and explain – or ideally show you pictures of – each step of the installation process.
8. What type of edging will they install?
As with the range of installation methods, there is a wide variety of options concerning edge restraints that can be used for your new artificial lawn.
In some instances, you may already have a hard edge around your lawn perimeter (i.e. a patio) and therefore you may not necessarily need an edge restraint.
U-pins and kiln-dried sand will suffice in holding the grass in place in this instance.
Again, a good fake grass installer will help advise on the best form of edging to ensure a long-lasting installation that’s also aesthetically pleasing and in keeping with your garden.
Examples of edging may be treated timber, sleepers, composite plastic timber, steel edging or some form of concrete edging.
Be sure to discuss edge restraints with potential installers.
9. Do they have a landline?
Rogue traders may be more inclined to use a non-geographical telephone number such as 0800 or 0845, or even just a mobile phone number.
Reputable companies will always give you a local landline number to call and provide you with their business address.
It’s important that you have their contact details so that if problems occur after the installation has been completed, you can get in contact with them.
10. Do they provide a guarantee?
For your peace of mind, be sure to discuss with a contractor the length of any guarantee that they offer and exactly what it covers.
A good tradesperson will always want their customers to be happy with their work, but you should always ask them what happens if the installation isn’t up to scratch.
You’ll need to know that they will be prepared to remedy the works to your mutual satisfaction.
11. How long will the job take?
Its always good to get an idea of roughly how long an installation will take.
Remember, though, that even the best planned jobs can occasionally throw up surprises and, of course, the British weather has been also known to throw up a few rainy days, which can cause delays.
Every installation and garden is different, and while some artificial grass installers work in teams of two, others may field four or five people.
Therefore, we can’t advise on how long a job should take, but you should be happy with the proposed time frame.
It’s also very important to ask them whether your job will be the only job they will be carrying out during your allotted installation dates.
The last thing you want is for an installer to turn up one day and complete half the job, after which you don’t see him again for a couple of weeks.
12. Are they an approved contractor?
When finding an artificial grass installer, the very best advice we can give you is to look for a contractor who has been given ‘approved’ status by the manufacturer.
This will mean that their work is regularly checked to ensure that it continues to be completed to a high standard.
But you should also be looking for ‘approved contractors’ as that tells you their work has been scrutinised by assessors well versed in artificial grass installation techniques.
A contractor with ‘approved installer’ status will also be familiar with the products that they are installing.
To find your nearest NeoGrass Approved Installer, click here.
13. Are they a limited company or a sole trader?
Company due diligence should always be carried out to make sure that they are who they say they are.
Limited companies are generally more reliable as their information is publicly available for all to see, meaning they have nothing to hide.
A company registration number should be displayed on letterheads, quote forms, invoices and on their website (if they have one).
14. Do they use a sand infill?
You’ll hear contractors recommending different things here.
We always recommend using a sand infill for the following reasons:
- It ‘pins down’ your artificial lawn, preventing ripples or creases.
- It will dissipate heat and prevent the artificial fibres from becoming hot during the summer months.
- It protects the fibres and ensures they remain in an upright position.
While you can install your artificial lawn without using a sand infill, our advice is that it’s always worth considering.
15. How will they protect your house?
If you live in a mid-terrace house, without rear access to your garden, the only option your installer will have is to access your garden through your home.
If this is the case, you’ll want reassurance that your artificial lawn installer will protect your property from any possible damage.
When installing artificial grass, the first step is to carry out the groundworks.
This normally involves excavating to a minimum depth of 75mm (this can be more or less, depending on the existing levels in your garden).
The excavations will need to be wheelbarrowed through your house, as will the aggregates needed for the sub-base.
Your installer will need to cover your flooring with sheets and boards to provide protection.
This is normally the artificial grass installer’s responsibility and you’ll want to make sure that this is what they intend to do.
The last thing you (and the installer) want is for them to turn up on the first day without this organised, which may result in the work having to be postponed.
Also, if access is through the house only, your chosen fake grass installer will need to consider whether 4m rolls are a viable option.
This is because 4m rolls require a reasonably straight run, as corners can potentially make it difficult to manoeuvre them through your home.
The alternative in this case is to use 2m rolls, which will fit through any space or doorway that a person can as they can be carried upright, rather than lengthways.
16. How will they dispose of the excavations?
Of course, your artificial grass installer will need to dispose of excavations and waste resulting from the works.
Always make sure that this is included in the price.
It’s also useful to know how they intend to dispose of the waste.
There are generally three options with regard to waste disposal:
- Skip hire – This will normally need to be placed on your property, i.e. your driveway. If it is not possible to place a skip somewhere on your property, then the skip hire company will need to apply for a permit to leave it on a public highway.
This isn’t an issue, but it’s something that your chosen artificial grass installer will need to bear in mind as permits can take a few days to apply for and they may incur a small fee that’s paid to the local council. And of course, there is always the chance that a permit application will be refused.
An installer also needs to consider placing boards underneath the skip to protect your driveway.
- Transport to a waste transfer or recycling centre – Most artificial grass installers choose dropside and tipper trucks as they can be easily loaded with the excavations, which can then be carted away to a waste transfer or recycling centre.
- Grab/muck away lorry – Depending on local prices in your area and the amount of excavations to be disposed of, it may be more economical to dispose of the excavations via a grab lorry.
A grab lorry has a crane/bucket which is used to ‘grab’ the soil and place it on the back of the lorry.
This is usually a good choice when there are more excavations than will fit inside an 8 yard skip, due to cost savings, but the final decision will depend on local skip and grab lorry prices.
As always, a good installer will be able to talk you through the options and advise on the most economical method of waste disposal for your circumstances.
17. Do they require any payment up front?
Some artificial grass installers may require a deposit before the work commences, whereas others will not.
Always check this before agreeing to proceed with an installation.
It’s generally acceptable practice for a contractor to do this, but under no circumstances should you pay for an entire job up front.
It also goes without saying that you should never hand over full payment until you are satisfied that everything on the quotation has been completed to the standard agreed.
If a contractor does require full payment up front, they should be avoided.
There are many benefits of using a professional artificial turf installer over attempting a DIY job, but it can be difficult to find a competent local firm to carry out your artificial grass installation.
You should now be armed with the right questions to ask to help you find a reputable local installer to carry out your artificial grass installation.
We strongly recommend using a NeoGrass Approved Installer to carry out your artificial grass installation as their work is regularly vetted to ensure it remains at the highest standard. To find your nearest Approved Installer, click here.
The first step would be to to invite three contractors to visit your property to obtain written quotations.
We recommend at least three quotes to allow you to adequately compare service standards and pricing.
Make sure that they are all quoting to carry out the same work and to install the same artificial grass, as prices do vary. Make sure also that all quotes include VAT.
When choosing three installers to invite for a site visit, the best option by far is to speak to friends or family that have had artificial grass installed in the past.
They will be able to inform you of the quality of the work and the level of customer service they received.
It will also give you a good opportunity to look at one of their installations to judge the quality of their work for yourself.
Alternatively, you can search for fake grass installers online or via our website – and be sure to check their online reviews.
It’s also good advice not to base your final decision upon the cheapest price, as very often you do get what you pay for.
Be sure to compare each installer on the proposed installation method, the materials they are using and, of course, the quality of the artificial grass.
For further information, read our previous article ‘How much does artificial grass cost?’ as this will help you compare prices, understand the work involved and know roughly how much your installation should cost.
Do you have any tips for finding an artificial grass installer? Let us know by leaving a comment below.