Many Southern California homeowners who have come to terms with the fact that we are in a state of drought more often than not and who are tired of looking at brown lawns all summer are replacing their living grass lawns with artificial grass. This helps them save water, spend less time on yard care and always have a green, lush lawn for their children, pets and guests to enjoy.
Now that synthetic lawns are becoming more popular as a mainstream landscaping option, you will see more folks hiring professionals to complete their projects, as well as plenty of homeowners who take this on as a do-it-yourself project in an effort to save money. We have also noticed that folks looking to save time or money are starting to look for ways to cut a few corners during the installation process.
We understand why someone might want to install fake grass on top of their natural grass. After all, this completely avoids the process of removing your current lawn and cuts out almost all of the ground preparation you would normally do before artificial grass installation. By skipping these two big steps, you can save time and money, start enjoying your new lawn sooner, and immediately be able to stop watering your natural grass lawn. These benefits can be quite appealing, so we understand why we are beginning to have more people ask us, “Can I put artificial grass on top of real grass?”
So, can you install fake grass over natural grass? Let’s talk about it.
Installing Artificial Grass on Top of Natural Grass
The first part of the answer is that, yes, it is possible to lay synthetic turf directly over your existing lawn. However, this does not mean that it is a good idea or that you will ultimately be satisfied with the outcome. Let’s look at some pros and cons.
Benefits of Installing Fake Grass Over Real Grass
1. You do not have to take the time or spend the money to remove your existing lawn.
2. You do not have to take the time or spend the money to prepare the ground before installing your artificial grass.
While saving time and money can be very appealing, these really are the only two benefits of installing a new lawn without removing the old one.
Now, let’s look at some of the cons of putting fake grass over real grass.
Issues with Installing Artificial Grass on Top of Natural Grass
1. If you install over natural grass without a good weed barrier, there is a much higher chance of grass or weeds growing up through the artificial grass backing.
2. You will likely have drainage issues if you do not properly prepare the ground beneath your new lawn.
3. Most of your old lawn is going to die once it is covered with the fake grass, some of it is going to try to survive and find its way through the backing material, and all of it is going to compact as you use your new lawn. This is going to lead to an uneven surface, which can result in increased tripping hazards and a lawn that is less visually appealing.
4. Unless your existing lawn was professionally installed with proper ground preparation – and, often, even when the ground was properly prepared – it is very likely that the ground is already uneven, which means your new lawn will also be uneven.
5. Installing synthetic turf over an existing lawn simply does not allow for several important steps that are integral in the integrity and longevity of your new lawn. When you cannot do any necessary grading or leveling, compact the sub-base, add base materials, ensure proper drainage and complete the recommended installation process, there is just no way of knowing exactly how your new lawn will respond over time.
6. An artificial grass lawn that is not properly installed will not perform at the same level as properly installed synthetic turf, and it is not expected to last as long.
Installing Artificial Grass Over Natural Grass: The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that it is possible to put synthetic turf over an existing, natural lawn, but we do not recommend it. Adding a layer of sand over your living grass can help with drainage and leveling, but even that is not going to give you the end result you can expect with a properly installed manufactured lawn.
Sure, you can save some money and time upfront, but an artificial lawn is a long-term investment with benefits that you can enjoy for up to 20 years – or even more, in some cases – so is it really worth it to shorten the lifespan of your lawn and obtain only mediocre results in order to save a little money?
You are going to receive the best result and most enjoyment from your manufactured lawn by first removing your existing lawn and allowing professionals to complete all of the steps necessary to ensure proper drainage and a level, even surface.