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How much does artificial grass cost?

How much does it cost to install artificial grass? And why?

Every day homeowners ask us about the cost of an artificial grass installation project. What is included in the price? How can I save money? And many other questions. Clients often hear "Well, you are paying for quality." But who explains what quality is? Very few show how the price is calculated. And most installers hide the decisions that affect the quality of the installation.

Keep reading for a real-life sample to see:

  • What comes into cost
  • How installers may cut corners
  • Consequences of a poor job

There are five main parts of the cost of an artificial grass installation project:

  1. Direct materials
  2. Direct labor
  3. Profit
  4. Overhead costs
  5. Free estimates

The project in this example is a typical 500 square foot rectangle (20 by 25 feet) backyard area, requested by a family with kids.

Direct Materials

This part is complex but we’ve broken it down as much as reasonably possible. Materials for a typical installation include:

Base

4 cubic yards of road base and 1 cubic yard of decomposed granite. The cost of materials with delivery is about $500.

Hauling - About $500

Cut corners by:

  • Take out less soil, leaving weed roots in the ground. It takes only one to two rainstorms to have weeds growing through the artificial grass.
  • Do not clean the sides. Weeds grow most often along the sides because more moisture comes from the hard surfaces. Weed barriers often cannot fight the dirt and seeds getting through the side. If soil is left, weeds will grow. If deep roots are left, weeds may flourish.
  • Grade quickly and poorly, fail to plan for drainage - uneven surface, pools, and mold form
  • Compact borders same as the center, leaving border area poorly compacted, causing detached borders
  • Level border equally with the surface, instead of 1/3 inch below the surface will cause torn borders

Bender Boards

Our project requires 45 feet of bender board. Bout $300 for 45 feet of bender boards.

Cut corners by:

  • Not using bender boards at all which would allow the base to expand.
  • Using wooden stakes to fix bender boards, leaving them to break early
  • Not hiding stakes, a visual imperfection
  • Using fewer stakes to fix bender boards again leaving them to break early
  • Leaving a hazard when the bender board is placed above the pavement. This is very dangerous.

Weed Barrier

We actually no longer charge for weed barrier installation on install projects. This being said we don’t recommend using weed barrier cloth, but do recommend weed preventer, which is an herbicide. We charge $.30 per square foot, so for this install, it would be $150 total.

Cut corners by:

  • Using cheap weed barrier will still cause weeds to grow
  • Placing the weed barrier under the base to save time instead of attaching it to the surface.

Artificial Grass

There are many types of artificial grasses and the right one truly depends on the type of space you have, however, our project includes a soft 60 oz grass with cooling technology and S-shape blades. We market this grass at around $8.5 a square foot, so let’s round up the total grass cost to $4,500 to give wiggle room just in case. We normally purchase more grass so there are less seams.

Cut corners by:

  • Purchasing exactly 500 square feet of material and complete the installation with patches causing visible seams.
  • Putting fewer nails into the ground to fix artificial grass making it less secure.
  • Putting nails in quickly, resulting in grass fiber captured by nail heads, causing visible imperfections.

Seaming Materials

Gluing the seam is recommended, but can be avoided when the seam is fixed every two to four inches. This is around $200.

Cut corners by:

  • Doing the job quick and sloppy, or long and tired, either one can cause visible seams.
  • Using fewer nails will make the grass detach easier and faster.

Infill

Manufacturers recommend more infill than homeowners usually prefer. White silica sand may become visible because it contrasts with the grass. Green sand becomes hot under the sun. Ten bags are the most common amount for this job, meaning it’ll be about $90.

Cut corners by:

  • Well, no cutting corners here. Use a spreader to ensure evenness, do not forget the sides.

Direct Labor

This is where it gets really interesting. Such a project can be completed in one day by six people with the right equipment or in two days by three people with the right equipment. For labor costs, this will be about $1,800.

One day of installation often means overtime. Workers get tired and begin making mistakes. 90% of all accidents occur in the last hour of work (according to CSLB). Pushing the project in one day only seems more efficient, but in fact, it costs more, brings more risk, and results in the desire to cut corners. Often a crew has only one set of equipment and cannot reach full capacity no matter how many people are working on site.

Profit and Overhead

A team that is making less than $800 from short term seasonal projects is doomed for extinction.

Let’s see where we stand:

As you see, cutting corners across the line saves $1,000 in labor and materials. Every worker makes a decision at every stage of the project. Those decisions determine how safe your lawn will be, how good your lawn will look, and how long your lawn will last.

And now, there is one more cost.

Free Estimates

It costs us on average $20 to get your contact information. Yes, Yelp, Google, Houzz, and other websites charge us for every click, for every impression, so we can get one step closer to you, our client.

Driving and preparing an estimate is another $76 expense when done efficiently. On average it takes 5 trips to initiate a project, so it costs about $480 to initiate one project. Money spent on fuel and hours in traffic. $480 is how much a “free estimate” really costs you.

So, every time when you hear “free estimate” you should know that a cost of $480 will be included in your project if you decide to move forward. We believe this is the most unfair expense ever! Why should you pay $480 for the curiosity of other people? We never go on an estimate until a client does not concur with the budget. So we pass our saving to you.