How to Prepare the Ground for Synthetic Grass

So you’ve decided to be a little more hands-on and practical, and try to install your synthetic grass yourself. However, you need to be aware that the biggest mistake people make with this seemingly-easy DIY project is poor ground preparation. Then, when it’s time to start reaping the benefits of their beautiful grass, they start experiencing some issues. This could have easily been avoided if they’d taken a little extra care when preparing the ground before installing the synthetic grass.

To prepare the ground for synthetic grass, you should check the area for underground hazards, get rid of the existing soil on the lawn, clear the entire area, and put down a weed barrier. You probably also want to prep the edges of the area to create a clear distinction of the perimeter for the turf.

If you don’t adequately prepare the ground, your synthetic grass may end up looking messy or poorly done. It will also affect the durability of the turf. Luckily for you, we’ve put together this article to explain this crucial part of the installation process in detail. We must admit that this stage isn’t that straightforward, but following the helpful tips in this article will help ensure you don’t make a mess of your garden.

How to Prepare the Ground for Synthetic Grass

Artificial turf background

Measure the Area

You could call this the pre-preparation stage. Nothing too complex here – all you have to do is determine what area you’ll be placing your synthetic grass on. Once you’ve figured that out, measure the site accurately so you know how much turf is needed to fully cover the zone.

After sorting out the measurements, you can then properly begin your ground preparation.

Identify Underground Hazards

Note that there might be hidden pipes or lines running under your lawn, so you need to be very careful about that. You wouldn’t want to start digging only to burst a pipe or cause a power outage. Fixing these issues will take time and cost you even more in the long run.

Before you start digging or clearing the lawn, check the area for any underground obstacles. You can even refer to your house plan, if you still have it, to better understand what might be lying beneath the soil.

Remove the Soil

This stage is where the real labor begins. After measuring out the area you want your artificial grass to sit on and ensuring there are no barriers beneath the soil, the next thing you need to do is get rid of the soil on the surface of the lawn. Experts advise that you should dig up about three to four inches into the soil.

You can use either a shovel or a turf cutter to achieve this. However, a shovel will take longer, be much more physically demanding, and may not perfectly remove every part of the soil. For this reason, a turf cutter would be far better for getting this job done well.

A turf cutter is fast and efficient, and you’ll be able to dig up the entire area in no time. Usually, this machine cuts the grass in strips, so you will have to roll them into bundles and move them out of the yard. You can always use a wheelbarrow to do this quickly.

Check the Drainage Condition of Your Soil

Worker doing the artificial grass installation

Although synthetic grass typically drains well, you still have to ensure that the soil underneath has good drainage capabilities. Water will build up in specific areas if water flows through the turf but can’t go through the ground underneath. In this case, you’ll run the risk of ending up with a sinking or uneven lawn.

If you’ve never experienced any drainage issues in that particular area before, then you probably won’t have any problems. But if the soil in that area isn’t the regular kind or you’ve experienced drainage problems in the past, that’s a clear sign that you need to do something about it to prevent future dilemmas.

You can ensure a better drainage system in your lawn by installing a drainage pipe. We admit that this might take a bit more time and cost you a bit more, but it’s better to deal with it upfront so you won’t have to handle the headache of more complicated issues later on.

Clear the Space

This stage comes right before you put down the base material for your synthetic grass. The base material is a soil-like surface on which you’ll lay the new turf. Before setting up this base layer, you should clear the lawn so no barrier or material disrupts the base laying stage.

Remove debris and unwanted plants lying around the yard. Also get rid of surrounding grass that might be hanging over the lawn. You can clear the yard using a rake, or any other gardening tools you have in your arsenal.

Generally, take out anything that you think shouldn’t be in the sectioned area and then level out the soil, so one part isn’t more elevated than the other. You can achieve a flat surface by dragging a simple 3ft piece of 2” by 4” wood across the area. You can also use a leaf blower to remove any leaves or plants lying on the ground.

Remember that the smoothness of the area will determine how well the base material sits on the lawn, which will, in turn, determine how well the new turf will be installed.

Prep the Edges

This stage isn’t compulsory, but you can create a border around your lawn for a cleaner and more defined result. Make your edges clean lines using rocks, wood, concrete, or using a terrace board like the MASTER MARK Terrace Board (on Amazon).

Cleaning the edge won’t only provide you with a clearer and smoother boundary; it will also ensure that your synthetic grass and the base material are protected from any interference of surrounding flower beds or other organic materials.

Lay a Gopher Wire on Your Lawn

This is also another optional stage, but it’s also one that you should do if you want to save yourself from potential future problems. We all know gophers and how much they enjoy burrowing into soil.

So, if you know that you’ve come across these visitors in your area in the past, it may be wise to put some gopher wire across your yard to prevent these rodents from causing trouble.

If you skip this part, there’s a high probability that gopher holes will pop up in your turf even after you’ve installed the synthetic grass, and you may end up needing to redo the whole installation. Installing gopher wire or mesh is far less expensive than dealing with destroyed turfs in the future.

However, if there’s never been news of rodent holes in your area, then you can skip this step. Still, it’s always better to be on the safe side in these situations- who knows what issues the future holds.

Once you’ve done all the above, you can get to installing the base layer and compacting it. You should check out our other article that explains the step-by-step process of how you can get this done.


There isn’t much you need to do once you’ve adequately prepped the ground under and around the turf. All that’s left is actually laying the turf and enjoying it! If you’d like to know how to get that part done, you should check out our other article that explains the step in full detail.

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