Artificial grass is becoming more popular as a mainstream landscaping option among UK homeowners. We’re finding a growing number of clients looking to switch their natural grass lawn for easy-to-manage Astroturf.
For people with Uber-busy lifestyles - so practically everyone - artificial lawns don’t need half the attention that traditional grass lawns do. If you’re a keen gardener, swerving lawn duties give you more time to focus on your plants, herbs and bushes without losing any of the aesthetics that natural grass gives you.
Another key draw towards artificial grass is how natural looking astroturf is these days. The quality actually surprises a lot of people. Advanced manufacturing techniques have come a long way in the last few years and even fake grass with a tall pile height is difficult to distinguish from a real lawn until you get close up.
One of the most common questions we get asked is whether you can install artificial grass on top of natural grass.
The short answer is no. Whilst it is the easiest option, laying fake grass over natural grass will create endless problems further along the line.
The good news is that it’s possible to replace your existing lawn with an artificial lawn. However, preparation is key to a long-lasting and immaculate lawn that you and your family can enjoy for many years.
The Temptation To Lay Artificial Grass On Top of Natural Grass
If you haven’t had any prior experience with fake lawns, you can be forgiven for thinking that installing artificial grass directly on top of natural grass is a straightforward solution.
There are certainly several tempting advantages; there is less groundwork involved and you don’t have to purchase or lay a sub-base or a weed membrane. That also means less cost is involved.
However, DIY experts that plan to install artificial grass themselves should understand that the key to a long-lasting lawn is ensuring the surface on which you are installing artificial grass is prepared properly.
If the foundations are not right, your fake lawn will be uneven, become infested with weeds, foster bacteria and probably suffer from poor drainage.
It’s highly doubtful that you will get the enjoyment and longevity from your fake lawn as you would if it is installed correctly.
Ideally, you should remove all the natural grass and excavate the topsoil to a minimum of 75mm (3 inches) below the backing material of your artificial grass.
If your garden does not drain well, the excavation depth should be at least 4-inches.
Simply adding a layer of sand on top of your living grass may help with the drainage and the levelling, but there is still plenty that can go wrong.
If you do plan to lay artificial grass by yourself, refer to our previous article detailing how to lay artificial grass on soil. This content provides you with step-by-step instructions and professional tips to help you get the installation right.
Let’s take a look at some of the issues you encounter by installing artificial grass on top of natural grass.
Why You Shouldn’t Lay Artificial Grass on Top of Natural Grass
When artificial grass is not installed correctly, all manner of frustrating problems can arise. And when you’ve made a significant investment to install a lovely lawn, you’re going to be pretty cheesed-off when things go wrong.
If you dive straight in and install fake grass on top of natural grass, you’re basically skipping essential steps that contribute to the aesthetics, integrity and longevity of your lawn. And that means you increase the likelihood of experiencing the problems listed below.
A reliable irrigation system is an integral feature of an artificial lawn installation. If water is not able to drain away, puddles of rain will gather on the astroturf and render it unusable.
Installing artificial grass on top of natural grass impedes drainage. The compounded blades of grass create a barrier that slows the ability for water to run off and weeds can grow through the holes in the backing material.
The backing material is purposefully designed with permeability in mind to enhance drainage. But for water to drain away, the artificial grass underlay must be compact, level and stable.
To create an effective irrigation system, you need a sub-base. We recommend using granite dust. A less expensive option is sharp sand but it’s not a suitable sub-base for some installations.
Depending on how well the existing soil drains away water, there may also be a greater need to design an irrigation system. Our landscaping expert can help with that as well; My Lovely Lawn design, supply and install artificial grass.
Fake grass installation will look better and last longer when the foundations are flat. Dips and bumps are likely to be visible on your arterial grass when installed directly over natural grass.
Not only will your home installation look uneven and unsightly, but it could also trip somebody up and cause an injury - especially if you have young children or plan to play football on it.
When you install artificial grass on top of natural grass, the existing blades are going to die. Nature is encoded with survival instincts so will try and find its way to the surface so it can get oxygen and sunlight.
As a consequence, you will probably find the natural grass poking through the backing material. Furthermore, allowing old grass to slowly decay underneath the synthetics is not good practice as it can invite bacteria and compromise the stability of the top layer.
Synthetic grass is fitted with a permeable backing that has holes for water to drain through. Installing artificial grass on top of natural grass is an invitation for weeds to grow.
If invasive weeds are allowed to penetrate through the artificial grass backing it could present a recurring problem that is expensive to fix.
Whilst, weeds can be eradicated by installing a weed membrane, the control fabric is made from a durable material that absorbs and retain moisture.
What’s more, weed barriers are not an ideal solution for pet owners. Urine will not be able to drain properly and will ultimately create a stench that can be avoided by digging a foundation that supports your drainage system.
If you are planning an artificial grass installation that is suitable for pets, we recommend using ZeoLite as an infill. This natural grain helps to avoid unwanted odours as it soaks up ammonia - the chemical which creates the ghastly smell of stale urine.
Unless you have a suitable foundation, the longevity of your lovely lawn will be compromised much sooner than you would hope. The cost savings you make by installing artificial grass on top of natural grass will be eradicated in a few short years because you will need to either pay for a replacement or repair the damage that has accrued.
You should expect a properly installed artificial lawn to last at least 10 years. Realistically, high-quality artificial grass will last between 15-20 years.
When you take all the above problems into account, it’s clear to see that trying to save time and money by installing fake grass directly over natural grass is not worth the potential problems you will face further down the line.
Installing artificial grass on top of natural grass does not enable you to create a base layer that protects the aesthetics, integrity and usability of your lawn.
As a consequence, you will not get the return on your investment that you will when astroturf is installed correctly.
If you fail to ignore the levelling, grading, sub-base and drainage solutions that are necessary, you are more likely to encounter problems that could be irreversible without laying the artificial grass again. And that will be far more costly than getting it right the first time.
Whilst your budget may be a priority, we do not recommend installing artificial grass on top of natural grass for the sake of lowering installation costs.
Fake grass is a long-term investment and your priority should be protecting the longevity and aesthetics of your lovely lawn so you can get as much use out of it as possible.
Realistically, you should expect a high-quality synthetic lawn to last around 15-20 years. If you lay artificial grass on top of natural grass, it will be disappointing from day one and overrun by weeds in around two years.
We appreciate that cost is important, however, which is why My Lovely Lawn diligently works to ensure we deliver the best solution within your budget and offer payment plans so that your home installation is not a financial burden.
We also have the knowledge and the expertise to lay artificial grass that ensures you get plenty of use from it for many years.
Whilst we do not intend to discourage you from installing artificial grass by yourself, you might want to get in touch and speak to our experts. It’s not worth the risk of your artificial grass installation going wrong.
We are always available for consultation and provide a free, no-obligation quote. Furthermore, you can rely on our experts to find a solution that works for you.