Artificial Grass Installation: DIY or Professional Installer?
Is it really worth paying a professional to install artificial grass for you, or can it be installed by anyone?
This is a question we are often asked and the answer is really that it depends.
There is certainly an art to installing artificial grass correctly and it is not quite as straightforward as it may seem.
There are several tricks and techniques that are used to get the best results.
However, that’s not to say that it’s impossible for people to install their own fake lawns.
Of course, should you opt for the DIY option it will certainly save you money.
However, there are many pros and cons you should consider when deciding between hiring a professional artificial grass installer or attempting a DIY installation.
In our latest article we are going to be looking at 5 questions you should ask yourself to help you decide.
So let’s begin with our first question…
Do you have the knowledge to install artificial grass?
When it comes to installing artificial grass, there are many different methods and techniques that can be used.
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all installation method.
This is because there are many different artificial grass applications. For example, the majority of artificial grass installations are straightforward lawn replacements.
Of course, in the majority of cases, people are looking to install fake grass in place of a real lawn.
For this kind of installation, there is a generally recommended installation process, which you can find here.
However, there are other optional considerations to take into account.
For example, if you have a pet, you’ll certainly want to consider installing a permeable sub-base to allow urine to drain away through the grass without leaving any odour. (You’ll also want to do this if your garden has poor drainage or is liable to flooding.)
If the soil in your garden has a sandy consistency you may wish to consider using MOT Type 1 as the sub-base material, as it will provide a stronger foundation.
You’ll also need to decide on what type of edging you’ll use, with each option potentially requiring a different method to be used to secure the perimeter of your fake lawn.
For example, you could use treated timber edging, plastic edging, steel edging or sleepers. All of these options will give you the ability to secure the perimeter of the grass to them, usually with galvanised nails.
However, should you choose some form of block or brick, you’ll need to use galvanised U-pins to secure the perimeter of your lawn. These U-pins will go directly through the artificial grass and into the ground below.
It is also possible to use an existing edge such as a path, fence or patio to retain the sub-base and this would also require you to secure the grass with pins.
You’ll need the knowledge to be able to weigh up the best form of edging to suit your installation, whilst also considering the aesthetics of each different type.
Most jobs and circumstances are unique and knowing the best methods and techniques to use to install your artificial grass can be tricky for a DIYer to decide upon.
Hiring a reputable local installer can take a lot of this decision making away from you.
Their knowledge and experience will enable them to assess your needs and advise on the best method to suit your circumstances and ensure a long-lasting installation.
An experienced installer will have installed artificial grass in a wide range of applications and will know what does and doesn’t work. Their knowledge will be invaluable.
However, should you choose to go down the DIY route, be sure to thoroughly research the different installation methods before beginning any work or buying any materials.
Do you have the correct tools for the job?
When carrying out any DIY job, not just artificial grass installation, it’s extremely important to ensure you have the correct tools for the job.
They will not only make your life easier by saving you time, but having the right tools will also ensure a better finish.
You may find that you already have the majority of the tools required to carry out an artificial grass installation; for example, wheelbarrow, shovel, Stanley knife, etc. But there are also specialist tools and equipment available that you should consider.
For a comprehensive checklist of the essential and non-essential (but very useful) tools for installing artificial grass, please check out our article, ‘22 Essential Tools for Installing Artificial Grass’.
Obviously, the biggest advantage of opting for a DIY installation is the money that can be saved on labour costs.
However, you’ll need to remember that there are certain tools and/or pieces of machinery that you’ll need to hire to get the job done properly.
For example, you’ll need a vibrating plate compactor to ensure the sub-base material is sufficiently compacted. These can be hired from your local tool hire shop.
Then there are other optional items, such as a turf cutter, which isn’t absolutely essential but will save you hours of back-breaking work – you may decide that the cost of hiring one is well worth it.
Be sure to get prices for everything you’ll need to hire to complete the job.
There are also smaller hand tools which you will need, but may not own or have access to.
Be aware that if you find yourself having to go on a spending spree at your local DIY store to get hold of everything you need, you may be wiping out any cost savings of choosing the DIY route.
When choosing between a DIY or professional installation, calculate exactly how much the tools and machinery needed for the job will cost you.
You may find that the cost savings of choosing to install your artificial grass yourself are not quite as large as you may have initially thought.
You’ll also need to consider that a professional will have specialist equipment such as a power brush or drop spreader. This kind of equipment does make for a better installation.
Unless you are lucky enough to know someone who owns these pieces of equipment, they would be out of reach for the DIYer as the cost is just too high to buy a piece of equipment that will only be used once.
When considering the financial savings a DIY installation may bring, remember that you will need certain tools to do the job and this will have an impact on any potential cost savings
Do you have basic DIY skills?
Of course, it’s possible for many people to carry out artificial grass installation on their own.
However, it is essential that you have some form of DIY experience, as well as plenty of time and patience.
If you have carried out any kind of groundwork before, such as laying a patio, driveway or path, then that will certainly stand you in good stead when it comes to the ground preparation, a vital part of the installation process.
You can have the very best artificial grass that money can buy, but the key to a long-lasting artificial lawn is in the groundworks.
It’s an extremely important part of the job, as getting the levels right will make a big difference to how the finished lawn will look.
It’s also typically the most time-consuming part of the job and certainly the most physical aspect.
When it comes to laying the grass itself, as well as having plenty of patience, you’ll need to be a dab hand with a Stanley knife.
You’ll only get one chance to cut your artificial grass to shape.
One slip of the knife and things may not turn out quite as you had expected.
You’ll need to have the confidence that you can handle a Stanley knife well enough to ensure a tidy finish.
It’s always wise to practice first using an offcut that won’t be needed for the job.
Before considering the DIY route, be honest with yourself about your practical skills. If you have little DIY experience, the job of installing your artificial lawn may be best left to the pros.
Their skills will ensure you get a longer-lasting finish to your fake lawn.
But if you’re an experienced DIYer, installing your own artificial grass may just be a good option for you.
Are you physically capable?
Installing artificial grass is a physically demanding job.
As explained earlier in this article, having the right tools can certainly reduce the amount of physical work involved. However, there is no getting around it, the job still involves hard work.
You’ll need to be capable of pushing heavy wheelbarrows to remove excavations and to cart sub-base material to the desired location. In many instances this means carting material backwards and forwards between your back garden and the front of your property.
You’ll also need to have the strength to lift the rolls of artificial grass into position.
Remember that rolls of artificial grass can be very heavy. Unless you are using small 2m rolls of grass, you’ll likely need to enlist some help from friends and family to carry your rolls of grass into your garden.
To give you an idea of how much artificial grass can weigh, our heaviest grass per square metre is the 35mm Aberdeen. The total yarn weight per square metre is 3.2kg.
Therefore, a 4m x 8m roll of Aberdeen will weigh 102.4kg, plus a couple of kilos for the cardboard tube used to transport the grass.
For a roll of this size we advise using a team of three, as a minimum, to lift the grass into position.
If the rolls are going to be any heavier, or you lack help, then we recommend using a carpet trolley.
Rolls of artificial grass can be placed onto the trolley and then easily moved to the desired location.
Installing artificial grass is hard work; if you are considering a DIY installation, you’ll need to be fit and strong.
Do you have enough time available?
A final question to ask yourself is, do I have enough spare time to install my own artificial grass?
An average artificial lawn may be somewhere around 50m2. Typically, to install fake grass to an existing lawn area of this size may take two days for an experienced two-man team.
For a DIYer attempting to install artificial grass for the first time, you can expect it to take at least twice as long.
Therefore, for an average lawn, you’ll likely need two full weekends.
Of course, the main reason for choosing to go down the DIY route is the cost saving; however, the old saying, time is money, certainly springs to mind.
You’ll need to seriously consider whether the potential cost savings of choosing to install your own fake grass is worth losing a couple of weekends over.
We always recommend using a professional to install your artificial grass. A top quality fake grass, correctly installed, will last upwards of 15 years.
The tools and experience a professional has will ensure a better finish, both in terms of aesthetics and longevity.
A good professional will also take the stress away from you.
However, that’s not to say that artificial grass can’t be installed by a DIYer with good practical skills, patience and enough spare time to dedicate to the job.
There is no doubt that if it’s installed correctly, then it will save you money. But get it wrong and it could be costly.
Just be make sure you weigh up everything in this article before making the decision.
If you do decide that choosing a professional contractor to carry out your artificial lawn installation is the right way to go, then you can find reputable, approved artificial grass installers here. You may also find our previous article, ‘17 Questions to Help You Choose an Artificial Grass Installer’, a useful read.