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Installation Cost of Artificial Grass
The average cost to have artificial grass professionally installed is $12.50 per square foot.
DIY homeowners pay around $7.00 per square foot for materials, heavy equipment rental, hauling and disposal fees. There’s money to be saved, but carrying out the project could easily be described as a “nightmare” for reasons that should become apparent.
The job involves removing and hauling away existing turf and topsoil. Then road-grade gravel or similar base material is trucked in, dumped and spread to a depth of several inches to create a stable, well-drained base. A weed barrier fabric is installed. Lawn padding is an option before rolls of artificial grass are spread out, cut, seamed and trimmed around trees, other barriers and edges.
An edge, called a mow strip or bender board, is installed to create a solid perimeter between artificial turf and real grass, such as at the border of the property. Installing edge around trees is also a good idea. Finally, a loose infill material like rubber granules or quartz/silica sand is spread over the grass to create a more natural feel underfoot. Optional lawn pad should be considered beneath the turf, and if you have pets or wildlife around, plan to have a deodorizer applied to the turf.
Terminology tip: Artificial grass is often called artificial turf, fake grass and synthetic grass or turf.
Overview of Synthetic or Artificial Grass Lawns
Artificial turf has a higher upfront cost than sodding a lawn, which has an average price of around $2.00 per square foot installed. That’s about one-sixth the cost of synthetic grass, which averages $12.50/square foot. The maintenance fees for artificial turf are essentially $0.
Since natural grass comes with maintenance fees of $300 to $1,500 or more per year based on climate and lawn size, the cost of artificial grass considered over 20 years can be less than natural grass. The break-even point is usually around 10 years.
Your artificial turf cost will depend on the quality of the synthetic grass you choose plus the type and amount of materials that are needed to complete the work. These include how much base material is needed, whether you install padding beneath the turf and the type of border selected. Site factors affect installation labor cost.
All cost factors, a list of material prices and labor rates are found below. But taking average costs, here are prices for common yard sizes. Cost per square foot drops a little as the size of the landscape increases.
- 500 square feet (fenced backyard area/pool surround): $4,200 – $9,000
- 1,000 square feet (small yard): $8,000 – $17,000
- 5,000 square feet (typical suburban lot): $40,000 – $80,000
- 10,900 square feet (1/4 acre): $81,750 – $165,000
- 21,750 square feet (1/2 acre): $152,000 – $320,000
- 43,500 square feet (1 acre): $310,000 – $580,000
Cost of going back to grass: If 15-25 years down the road, the fake turf is worn out and you decide to return to natural grass, several inches of road material will have to be removed and hauled away. And 4+ inches of topsoil will need to be trucked in and distributed. Both will be major expenses on top of the cost of sod.
Cost Factors for Artificial Grass Lawns
Will the cost of artificial turf for your yard be closer to $7.00 per square foot or $18.00?
Right off the top, we’ll say that jobs costing less than $8.00 or $9.00 per square foot are a rarity. If your landscape already consists of small stone, think Arizona, and your only major cost is the turf, then sure, 7 bucks is realistic.
In other places, if you want to go cheap – minimal prep, low-cost artificial grass and no infill – then you’ll get what you pay for, which will be a lawn that might look OK but won’t be a pleasure to walk on and won’t last more than a decade.
- Artificial Turf Quality and Type – Your options vary based on the quality of the backing, number of “blades” per square inch (more = lusher turf), length of the blades and the color blend of the materials. The best turf has a heavy-duty backing, is 1.5 to 2 inches high and is a blend of blades in greens and greenish-yellow to best mimic genuine grass.
- Prep Costs – These costs include how much turf and dirt must be removed, and how much material needs to be brought in to create a suitable base for artificial grass. Is the ground full of strong roots or large rocks that must be removed? Do low spots or wet areas need to be filled? These are the site conditions that increase synthetic grass installation cost.
- Operational Costs – This term is used by artificial turf installers to cover costs like transportation and fuel costs to haul materials away and bring others to the job site. The further the distances required to pick up or dispose of materials, the higher the cost. Dump fees for getting rid of existing sod and soils are included.
- Elements Used – Is a weed barrier required? Will you include foam pad beneath the synthetic turf? Will infill be used, and if so, what type? Deodorizer? What kind of perimeter will you install, if any? For example, on the perimeter, you could choose a low-cost composite “paver” strip or pay more for a genuine paver or brick perimeter. If you have a brick or paver patio, consider matching material for the landscape perimeter.
- Lawn Complexity – A clear expanse of lawn costs less to cover in artificial turf than one that is broken up by trees, shrubs, a pool, outbuilding, etc. More cutting and trimming equals higher cost.
- Lawn Size – Artificial turf cost per square foot goes down slightly as the size of the job increases, due to basic economies of scale.
- Where you Live – There are two considerations here. First is cost of living. If you pay more for a gallon of milk than people in other regions of the country, you’ll pay more for artificial turf. The other consideration is how common synthetic turf is. Where popular, and many landscapers install it, costs are generally more competitive than where there are few installers, and they might have to travel a good distance to handle the job.
Cost of Synthetic Grass and Installation Supplies
Let’s break down or itemize the material costs involved. Installation costs are covered later.
Costs per square foot:
- $1.90 – $3.75 per square foot | Artificial Turk, aka Synthetic Grass
- $0.30 – $0.40 per square foot | Base Material – Small Stone, Gravel or Sand
- $2.50 – $3.00 per square foot | Foam/EPDM Pad or Underlayment (Optional)
- $0.35 – $0.50 per square foot | Weed Barrier
- $0.90 – $1.15 per linear foot | Composite or Vinyl Mow Strip Perimeter
- $4.00 – $7.00 per linear foot | Genuine Paver or Brick Perimeter
- $0.30 – $0.50 per square foot | Infill (sand costs less than rubber granules)
- $100 – $180 per 1,000 square feet | Installation Supplies – Fasteners, Tape, Stakes
When you total your costs and add installation labor fees, the total price of artificial turf rises to an average of $10 to $15 per square foot. That’s pretty pricey.
Our costs are carefully researched, and in this case, they are consistent with other reliable pricing sites.
HomeGuide cost average is $12.00 per square foot with a range of $6.00 to $20.00.
Home Advisor suggests $5.00 to $20.00 per square foot, which, without an average cost, is too broad to be useful.
Install It Direct is an artificial turf installation company that spells out all the cost factors very clearly. Its average cost is $11.48 to $14.62 per square foot, right in line with our artificial grass cost estimate.
Permits, Inspection, and Installation Costs.
Permits and Inspection Cost
- $0 – $200 | You probably won’t need a permit and inspection for installing artificial turf. But if a sprinkler system is being disconnected and removed, or if your local codes are picky about drainage and water run-off, one might be required. Your installer will know – or you can contact your local codes office.
Labor and Installation Time
Installation rate is about 1 day per 600 to 1,000 square feet based on site conditions discussed above.
Most crews of 3-4 people include skilled installers and general laborers.
With a crew of this size, you can divide the total square feet by 600 to 1,000 to get an estimate of how many days they will be on the job. The prep work is the longest part of the project. Once the base is prepared, the installation of the artificial turf goes pretty quickly.
The projects below are closely related to having an artificial grass lawn installed at your home.
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DIY or Hire a Pro
If you have the time and are strong on attention to detail, then installing artificial grass can be a rewarding experience. Know what you’re in for first – this video might help.
Just consider the checklist:
- Acquiring all materials ahead of time: Have the turf, landscape fabric/weed barrier, infill, fasteners and edging materials available to eliminate potential delays.
- Scheduling material deliveries: Shop around for price, and get on the delivery list well ahead of when you want the base material delivered. This also requires knowing the best material for your location and how much of it you need (total volume and depth in inches).
- Removing existing turf and topsoil first: This generally requires renting a Bobcat-type skid loader with a bucket and paying someone to haul it away.
- Buying appropriate base and spreading it: Schedule the skid loader rental to cover the timeframe for both removal and installation of the new material to prevent two separate rental contracts.
- Installing the Barrier and Turf: Barrier installation is pretty easy. Just make sure all the ground is covered. Overlapping is no problem. The installation of the turf is a time-consuming process when measuring, cutting, seaming and fastening is considered.
Yes, it can be a “nightmare” to coordinate and implement all the steps.
If you’re installing synthetic turf in a rectangular, flat area that isn’t very big, then sure, we encourage DIY.
But when you’re considering artificial turf for large, irregular areas with soils you’re not familiar with, then hiring a professional synthetic turf contractor makes the best sense.