While natural grass has its advantages artificial grass represents a convenient solution that requires less maintenance, an all-year-round freshness and a lawn that is not bogged down with puddles and unsightly mud patches.
If you have the option to choose between a poorly watered lawn that constantly needs work and a spotless artificial lawn that remains unblemished for ages, the latter is the smart choice. It’s no surprise that artificial lawns are becoming a popular choice.
In addition to overcoming psychological resistance towards artificial grass, homeowners have a few practical concerns to consider; namely how to install synthetic grass without removing the existing turf first.
Is it possible to lay artificial grass on top of turf, and is it a good idea?
Installing artificial grass is not simply a case of replacing natural grass with astroturf for a number of reasons.
Is it possible to place fake grass on top of real grass?
In short, yes you can. As a matter of fact, laying artificial grass on top of turf is the easiest way to install fake grass. However, it is one of the worst ways to install an artificial lawn.
The good news is there’s less digging involved when laying artificial grass on top of the turf. The benefit of this is you’ll get your lawn laid quicker for less labour costs.
There are, however, red flags to wave. And if an artificial grass supplier says it’s okay to lay artificial grass on top of turf, we wouldn’t recommend you use their products or services. If you do, expect some unwanted consequences further down the road.
Depending on how well the existing soil drains away water, there may also be a greater need to design an irrigation system.
The evenness of the surface will also play a factor. Unless obstructions are removed and the area in which you install your lawn is levelled out, your artificial grass will be covered in lumps and ridges.
What are the potential issues when laying artificial grass on top of turf?
When you are laying synthetic grass on top of natural grass, you are basically skipping several essential steps that contribute to the beauty and longevity of your lawn.
Any home artificial turf installation requires the ground to be flattened. Not just that, but removing the top layer of soil allows you to add base materials – and the right sub-base can make a huge difference to the performance, look and feel of your fake lawn.
An artificial grass underlay must be compact, stable and allow water to pass through. In most cases, we recommend granite, but occasionally, the cheaper option of sharp sand will suffice. You can read more about the best sub-base for fake lawns in this article.
If you don’t get the foundation right when you laying astroturf on natural turf, your lawn will most likely feature several dips and bumps. Not only does this look unsightly but it could trip somebody up and cause an injury.
Furthermore, allowing old grass to slowly decay underneath the synthetics is not good practice. It can invite bacteria and compromise the stability of the top layer.
Invasive weeds are also more likely to penetrate through the artificial grass underlay and could present a recurring problem that’s not easy to fix. This problem can be resolved if you also install a weed barrier.
However, weed barriers are not a solution for families with pets. The barriers are made from a durable material that absorbs and retain moisture. As a consequence, you will experience a lingering odour of dog urine.
Finally, hastily installed artificial grass doesn’t remain in perfect condition for very long. Any cost savings you make installing cheap artificial grass will soon be cancelled out if you have to install a replacement.
You should expect a properly installed artificial lawn laid on top of your existing turf to last at least 10 years, but realistically, closer to 20 years.
Taking all of this into account, most professional artificial grass installers will advise homeowners to remove natural grass and install the appropriate artificial grass underlay for turf.
Should you lay fake grass on top of turf?
The final answer to this technical question might come down to who’s asking and why. If you are thinking about using artificial grass in a professional setting (for example for a golf course or a corporate garden), putting it on top of natural grass to save a few pennies is not the best idea.
The intended use of the lawn and your budget largely determine which approach is the best option. My Lovely Lawn will always offer you the best solution within your budget, but we also intend to lay artificial lawns that you will get plenty of use from for many years.
When you’re laying artificial grass on top of turf, it is recommended that you remove 35-50mm of topsoil. This will create a sufficient amount of space for you to install the appropriate sub-base; either granite or sand.
If you simply lay artificial grass over natural turf, the live grass will instinctively try to survive. Synthetic grass is fitted with a permeable backing that has holes for water to drain through.
Grass will usually find its way through these holes and become compact underneath. This creates bumps and ridges in the lawn which looks unsightly.
Simply adding a sub-base on top of natural grass does not provide a long-term solution either. To get the most from your investment, the best option when laying artificial grass on top of turf is to remove your existing lawn.
For more information about installing an artificial lawn, why not give us a call and speak with one of our friendly consultants. Our experts are happy to answer any questions you have and will help you to find the solution that works for you.