Would you allow your family doctor to perform open heart surgery on one of your loved ones? Unless they were a trained cardiologist, your answer would likely be a resounding ‘no.’
In a similar vein, we wouldn’t recommend you hire a landscaper or any other person who does not specialize in artificial grass to install your synthetic grass system.
Recently I visited a homeowner (Jon Tasch here, owner of IntelliTurf of Jacksonville) who had an artificial grass lawn installed in his backyard by a company that does not specialize in artificial grass. Primarily a paver and stonework company, when the homeowner inquired if they were able to install synthetic grass as well, the company said that they could.
Unfortunately, the completed installation resulted in a total mess. Pock marks from nails driven down too hard, visible seams, gaps along the edges, not enough infill sand—the list went on and on.
I felt terrible for the guy. He and his wife work too hard for something like that to have happened to them.
I asked him if we could put his photos on our website. I told him that if we could help future customers make a more informed decision, everyone would be for the better, whether they went with IntelliTurf or not.
Installing artificial grass requires industry-specific knowledge that is generally acquired through years of experience. If you are considering allowing a non artificial grass specialist to install turf on your property, utilize the following checklist to ensure you don’t end up like this homeowner:
- Insist that the synthetic turf is made in the USA, preferably in Dalton, Georgia. Also, if you are installing lawn turf, it should be at least 50 ounces in face weight.
- Ensure that they build their bases with a proper Class 2 road base, preferably crushed granite or another type of natural stone, to a depth of 3 to 4 inches. Artificial grass cannot be applied directly over soil or any other type of expansive material—if it is allowed to expand and contract, you will get visible wrinkles, bumps and depressions. Gravel alone is insufficient because without the fine stone dust, the base will not adequately compact. We use a ratio of about 70% gravel, 30% stone dust.
- Three to Four pounds of infill sand should be applied directly into the synthetic grass. This gives the turf weight (ballast), and it also helps the fibers to remain vertical. It also protects the tuft binds. For bonus points, ask them what type of power broom they use. If they aren’t using a power broom, it will be very difficult to properly brush in the sand and get the fibers to a vertical position.
- Ask what the drainage rate is for their turf. Also, what type of backing does it have? Hole punched or flow-through fabric? What is the drainage rate in terms of inches per hour?
- Ask to see photos or view a sample installation. Just like you wouldn’t hire a wedding photographer if they didn’t have photos on their website, you shouldn’t hire an artificial grass installer if they don’t have photos either. If they aren’t able to show you photos, insist on seeing one or two of their installations up close in person. If they aren’t able or are unwilling to do this, this is a red flag.
- Inquire about visible seams. While it’s true that even the most experienced installer cannot 100% mask a long seam from view, it should be difficult to locate it with the casual naked eye. Think about your high end granite and quartz countertops: If you try to find it, locating it is usually not too difficult. Still, it shouldn’t be as apparent as in the above photo.
- Inquire about the installation and product warranty. At IntelliTurf, we provide a standard 1-year workmanship warranty and the majority of our turf carries a 10-year UV warranty. Before you deliver final payment to the installer, we recommend you thoroughly conduct a visual inspection and walk-through with the installer. Seams should not be overly-apparent, you should not see any nail marks, the blades should be vertical, and everything should be level. The grass should not be too far from any walls or buildings or fences (a 1/8″ gap is our goal), nor should it be too tight. The job site should be clean and all trash and extra materials should be removed from your property.
Some of these may sound like nit-picking, but any experienced artificial grass installer should be able to handle these with ease.