How to Install Fake Turf on a Dirt Surface

Synthetic grass is often used in sports stadiums because of its durability, resistance to damage from weather and low-maintenance costs. These factors also make it appealing to some homeowners -- especially those in drought-prone areas, with brown lawns and water restrictions, or those homeowners who struggle to maintain a healthy lawn because their property is heavily shaded. If installing artificial turf in your yard, you must remove the natural grass and build a solid base for the artificial turf.

Artificial turf is often used on football fields because of its durability.
  1. Remove the lawn with a sod cutter. This is a device that cuts the sod into strips and uproots it from the soil.
  2. Remove the top 2 to 3 inches of the soil with a shovel. Removing the loose soil that was just underneath the sod makes it easier to build a stable base for the fake turf.
  3. Run over the soil with a plate compactor to help create a firm base. A plate compactor is a machine that compacts the ground beneath it by rapidly moving a heavy plate at the bottom, up and down on the ground. You can rent a plate compactor at an equipment rental location.
  4. Cover the soil with a geo-textile weed barrier. This stabilizes the soil and prevents weeds and other plants from growing.
  5. Lay crushed stone on top of the geo-textile weed barrier, then compact it with the plate compactor. Make the layer of crushed stone between 1 and 3 inches deep.
  6. Apply a layer of sand on top of the crushed stone. The sand should be between 1/2-inch and 3/4-inch deep. You want to slope the sand in the direction in which you want rainwater to flow, so make layer at the top of the slope thicker than the sand at the bottom of the slope. Shape and smooth the sand by dragging a 2-by-4 board across the surface.
  7. Unroll the fake turf onto the sand. Try not to drag the turf because you can disturb the base. Allow the turf to sit in the sun few a few hours to remove any wrinkles.
  8. Trim excess turf from around objects like driveways, patios and sidewalks, using a utility knife.
  9. Fold back the edges of the turf on each roll.
  10. Place the jointing tape on the ground where you rolled up the edges of the turf. If you're connecting two pieces of turf, place the jointing tape in the center of the different sheets.
  11. Apply seaming glue to the surface of the jointing tape.
  12. Roll the edges of the turf over onto the jointing tape. If you're attaching two adjacent pieces of turf, pull them as close together as possible.
  13. Apply pressure to the turf over the jointing tape by placing long wooden boards along the edges with heavy objects on top. This will help the seaming glue adhere better to the jointing tape and the underside of the turf.

Things You Will Need

  • Sod cutter
  • Shovel
  • Plate compactor
  • Geo-textile weed barrier
  • Utility knife
  • Crushed stone
  • Sand
  • Boards, 2-by-4
  • Jointing tape
  • Seaming glue


  • Contact your local zoning board before installing the turf to ensure that it's legal in your community.

About the Author

Carson Barrett began writing professionally in 2009. He has been published on various websites. Barrett is currently attending Bucks County Community College, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in sports management.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images