How to Install Turf in Your Backyard (4 Easy Steps)

Last Updated on May 23, 2024 by Kimberly Crawford

Ever thought about transforming your backyard into a lush, green oasis? Installing turf in your backyard can solve many common lawn problems, giving you a beautiful and durable space without the constant hassle of maintenance.

Imagine having an evergreen lawn that stays vibrant year-round, withstands heavy foot traffic, and saves you time on yard work.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to install turf in your backyard step-by-step, ensuring a smooth and successful transformation.

From planning and preparation to laying the turf and post-installation care, this guide has you covered. Let’s dive in and get started on your journey to a perfect backyard.

1. Planning and Preparation

Assess Your Backyard

Before you start, take a good look at your backyard. Measure the area to know how much turf you’ll need. Look for any slopes or uneven spots that might need extra attention. This step helps you plan better and avoid surprises.

Choose the Right Turf

Picking the right turf is key. Decide between natural and artificial turf.

Think about your local climate, soil type, and how you’ll use the space. For instance, if you have pets or kids, some turfs handle wear and tear better.

Gather Necessary Tools and Materials

You’ll need some basic tools to get the job done. A shovel, rake, and turf cutter are must-haves.

Don’t forget extra materials like topsoil, compost, and fertilizer to prepare the ground properly. Having everything ready beforehand saves time and hassle.

2. Ground Preparation

Clear the Area

Start by removing existing grass, weeds, and debris from the area. This can be done manually or with a sod cutter.

If you’re going manual, a shovel and a lot of elbow grease will get the job done. A sod cutter makes this process faster and easier, especially for larger areas.

Grade and Level the Surface

Next, you need to grade and level the surface to ensure proper drainage. Create a slight slope away from buildings to prevent water from pooling.

Use a rake to smooth out the soil and a tamper to compact it. This step is crucial for a stable and even turf installation.

Soil Preparation

Preparing the soil is key to a healthy turf. Test the soil pH and adjust if necessary using lime or sulfur.

Add a mix of topsoil and compost to improve soil quality and promote better rooting.

Finally, compact the soil with a roller to create a firm base for the turf. This will help prevent any future settling or uneven spots.

3. Laying the Turf

Install a Base Layer (for Artificial Turf)

For artificial turf, start by spreading a layer of crushed stone or gravel. This base layer provides stability and helps with drainage.

After spreading the gravel, compact it thoroughly using a roller. This step ensures a solid foundation that will prevent the turf from shifting or sinking over time.

Laying the Turf Rolls

Begin laying the turf along a straight edge, like a sidewalk or fence line. This helps keep everything aligned.

Stagger the seams like you would with bricks to give a more natural look and strengthen the overall installation. Use a utility knife to cut and fit the edges neatly around curves, corners, and any obstacles.

Securing the Turf

To keep your turf in place, use turf pegs or staples along the edges. Make sure to secure the turf every few feet to avoid any loose sections.

Ensure the seams are tight to prevent gaps and make the lawn look seamless. This final step will give your backyard a polished and professional appearance.

4. Post-Installation Care

Watering and Settling

Once you’ve laid the turf, start with an initial watering schedule to help it settle. Water the turf thoroughly to ensure the roots are established well.

Keep the turf moist during the first few weeks, which is crucial for its growth. Proper watering helps the turf knit into the soil, reducing the chances of gaps and patches.

Rolling the Turf

Using a lawn roller helps to eliminate air pockets and ensures good soil contact. This step is essential for a smooth and firm surface.

Roll the turf gently to avoid damaging the grass, ensuring an even and stable lawn.

First Mow (for Natural Turf)

When it’s time for the first mow, make sure the grass has grown to about 3 inches. Set your mower to the highest setting and avoid cutting more than a third of the grass’s height.

Maintaining the ideal grass height promotes healthy growth and a lush appearance. Regular mowing keeps your lawn looking neat and encourages dense growth.

5. Maintenance Tips

Regular Watering Schedule

Keeping your turf healthy requires a regular watering schedule. For natural turf, water it deeply once or twice a week, depending on the weather.

Artificial turf needs less water, mainly for cleaning purposes. Look out for signs of overwatering, like soggy soil and yellowing grass, or underwatering, like dry, brown patches. Adjust your watering habits accordingly to maintain a lush lawn.

Fertilization and Weed Control

Fertilizing your turf helps it stay green and strong. Use a balanced fertilizer every 6-8 weeks during the growing season.

Be cautious not to over-fertilize, as this can burn the grass. To keep weeds at bay, apply a pre-emergent herbicide in early spring and keep an eye out for any intruders. Pull weeds by hand or use a spot treatment to prevent them from spreading.

Seasonal Care

Adjust your turf care routine with the changing seasons. During summer, increase watering to combat the heat. In fall, aerate the soil to allow air and nutrients to reach the roots.

For winter, if you live in a cold climate, winterize your turf by reducing mowing frequency and clearing any debris. These adjustments help your turf withstand seasonal stresses and stay healthy year-round.


Installing turf in your backyard can transform your outdoor space into a beautiful, low-maintenance oasis.

By following the steps outlined in this guide, from planning and ground preparation to laying the turf and post-installation care, you’ll achieve a lush, green lawn that enhances your home’s appeal.

Regular maintenance, including proper watering, fertilization, and seasonal care, ensures your turf remains healthy and vibrant.

With a bit of effort and the right approach, you’ll enjoy a perfect backyard all year round. So, get started on your turf installation project and enjoy the benefits of a stunning lawn with minimal upkeep.


How much turf do I need for my backyard?

To determine how much turf you need, measure the length and width of your backyard in feet. Multiply these numbers to get the square footage. It’s a good idea to add an extra 5-10% to account for cutting and fitting around edges and obstacles.

What is the best time of year to install turf?

The best time to install turf is during the cooler months of spring or fall. This gives the turf time to establish roots before the extreme heat of summer or the cold of winter.

How long does it take for turf to establish?

Natural turf typically takes about 2-3 weeks to establish, depending on the weather and how well you follow the watering schedule. Artificial turf, on the other hand, is ready to use immediately after installation.

Can I install turf myself, or should I hire a professional?

While installing turf can be a DIY project, it does require some physical labor and attention to detail. If you’re comfortable with basic gardening tasks and have the time, you can do it yourself. Otherwise, hiring a professional can ensure a smooth and proper installation.

How do I maintain my new turf?

For natural turf, maintain it by watering deeply and infrequently, mowing regularly, and fertilizing every 6-8 weeks. For artificial turf, keep it clean by brushing and rinsing it occasionally, and address any repairs promptly to prevent damage.

What should I do if my turf turns yellow or brown?

Yellow or brown turf can be a sign of overwatering, underwatering, or disease. Check your watering schedule and adjust as necessary. If the problem persists, consider contacting a lawn care professional for advice on treating any possible diseases or pests.

How long does artificial turf last?

High-quality artificial turf can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years, depending on the level of use and maintenance. Regular cleaning and proper installation can extend its lifespan.

Can I install turf over concrete?

Yes, you can install artificial turf over concrete. Ensure the surface is clean and smooth before laying the turf. Adding a layer of foam padding underneath can improve comfort and drainage.

Is turf safe for pets?

Both natural and artificial turfs are safe for pets. Artificial turf, in particular, is durable and easy to clean, making it a pet-friendly option. Just make sure to clean up pet waste promptly to keep the area sanitary.

Will turf help reduce my water usage?

Yes, installing artificial turf can significantly reduce your water usage, as it doesn’t require regular watering like natural grass. Even with natural turf, using efficient watering techniques and drought-resistant grass varieties can help conserve water.


  1. University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. “Maintaining Lawn Turf.” University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources.