How to Install Artificial Turf for a Putting Green


Phil: Hey guys, great news for you. This is not another snowplowing video by Stan. We're here in sunny Georgia and the only thing coming from the sky right now is pollen. It's no fun to deal with, but we certainly don't get 19 inches of it.

Phil: Today, we're gonna be installing an artificial turf putting green and we're gonna show you step by step how that gets done.

Stan: So you're probably wondering who that guy is, and why he's on my channel. Well, his name is Professor Phil, and he happens to be on the smartest dudes that I've ever met. And he knows more about artificial turf than anybody I've ever known in my life.

Stan: Hey Frankie. Hey, what do you know about artificial turf?

Frankie: I don't know nothin' about it.

Stan: Me neither. That's why we got Professor Phil because I'm going to be learning exactly the same stuff you are during this video. So, let's get into it and let's actually see if Phil does any work. If I know Phil, he's probably going to have everybody around him do work, except for him.

Phil: Alright, here we are. This is day one of the project. And what we're going to be doing back here is we're going to be installing an artificial turf putting green. Now this job is a little bit unique because the homeowner in this case actually started the project himself. He hand dug this area and he went and purchased the turf all by himself. He kind of got started on the project and realized this was a lot of work. So he figured he would give us a call, call in a professional to get this job done. It's something he's been working on for a very long. And we're here to make it happen.

Phil: Now what we're gonna be trying to accomplish in this backyard is a pretty flat putting green. There's a natural fall from the right side to the left side. We're going to end up with three putting cups in this green when we're done.

Phil: So these rolls are 15 feet wide from end to end and they're 24 feet long. We're gonna be laying them next to each other so we're gonna have a 30 foot wide green, 24 feet at it's maximum point in the shape of an oval. So the next step is to lay out the fringe.

Phil: This is fringe turf, or chipping turf, or the rough as you would. So right around the end we're gonna have this nice, thick fringe turf and that's gonna give him a place where he can chip balls off of. It's also just gonna add to the overall look of it. But putting this together isn't the easiest thing because we're gonna have to seam all the way around the putting green. And we want those seams to be perfect. We're gonna show you exactly how that's done.

Stan: We're actually gonna be breaking this video down into a series of it's most logical components. And so today we're gonna be focusing on the base prep. And just like for a paver patio, the base is one of the most important things you can do when you're installing artificial turf. What you're gonna find during this series is we're gonna have a lot of information that hopefully by the time you're done with it, will give you enough confidence to go out and tackle your own project. Because I know I'm going to.

Phil: So with the putting green already excavating, we're gonna go in there and clean it up, flatten it out a little bit more. Next, we're going to spray paint some lines to outlet what the fringe should look like. So when I spray these line, I'm not using a measurement, I'm not using graph paper. I'm just using the artistry of creating some organically flowing curves around it. So let me show you how that's done.

Stan: This, guys, is gonna be the hardest that you see Phil work on this entire project. In fact, take your best guess if he even pulls his hand out of his pocket. Actually, I love Phil. He's awesome, but I still gotta give him crap every chance I get.

Phil: When I'm spraying out these lines, one of the things that I like to do is go around and just put a dot of paint at the inflection point, where I know I want it to be a minimum point and a maximum point. Then I can walk all the way around the edge and connect those with curve lines. So let me show you how that's done.

Phil: Alright, so we've laid out the perimeter. And you can see that we've got a nice, wide area over here to enhance the size of the chipping area. And we've got a nice rough outlined up.

Phil: So now what the crew is doing is they're going ahead on the newly spray painted blue line. And the reason we had to adjust the line is to fit the turf that we had. It's important to emphasis that had this been a job we designed from start to finish, we would not have the guess work involved in laying out the turf. But since we're dealing with turf that's already here, we had to make it work. So the first blue line that was painted was sort of our wish list blue line. Then we had to adjust it to what we had available onsite. So now they're going around with a shovel and we're edging out the whole edge.

Phil: Next we're gonna come in with a small, mini skid-steer, we're gonna excavate out this soil and we're going to be placing it at another area behind the property.

Phil: The next step is we're gonna be bringing in crusher run, a compacted crushed stone based. Usually this is comprised of particles that are varying in size from three quarters of an inch to an inch all the way down to very fine particles that would pass a number 200 sieve, which is just almost like a talcum powder. We want to keep those fines to a minimum. We want to be able to get good compaction across this whole area. 

Phil: Again, this area drops. This is the high side, this is the low side. There's probably about 11 to 12 inches of drop across this. We're gonna try to keep this area as level, but level isn't the exact right word. More smooth.

Stan: Alright guys, I wanna break in because I need to clarify something here. What Phil's actually referring to, it's okay to have a pitch in your surface. Just like a natural putting green, because this will actually facilitate water run off. But it's not okay to have a ripple on that surface.

Phil: In anything, we want to keep that drop to a minimum. So we're gonna be bringing in the crusher run.  Next, this area is gonna take about 18 tons of material to fill. So we've calculated that on a four inch depth. So once we get all of the soil excavated out, we'll be putting four inches of crusher run in. We're gonna do that two inches at a time because our vibratory plate compactor will not compact all four inches. We want to put two inches in, compact it and then put two more inches in.

Phil: Now here you see three stakes. There's one, two and three. Those are gonna be our putting cup locations. So what we're gonna be doing is we're gonna be digging out four inch holes so that the putting cups can go in. And I'll give you a quick look. These are the putting cups, these are plastic putting cups. They're not my personal favorite, I'd prefer aluminum. If you get an aluminum putting cup, you're gonna pay about $20 more per cup. But they give you that really nice plinking sound when a golf ball hits it. But this is what the homeowner had available, these will work just fine. They're four inch putting cups so we're gonna be putting those in the ground at these three locations.

Phil: Alright, we got a lot of activity happening on this project today. When you last saw it, it was all just dirt and we were remedying the poor soil conditions that we had. We ended up filling in with about 10 tons of three quarter inch stone or number 57 stone. And what we're doing now is we're putting in the crush stone base and we're compacting it. We put in the first two inches, now we're up to the last two inches that are going in and we're running a vibratory plate compactor over the whole surface.

Phil: Once this step is done, we're going to take a rake and go across the top layer with that rake and we're gonna start to remove some of these large chunks of aggregate. And the reason we're doing this, if this were a stone patio, our base would be very similar for let's say a paver patio. And in that situation, we would not need to remove it. But because this is artificial turf that's gonna be going down, we want to make sure that you don't feel any of these rocks underneath your feet.

Phil: So after we've gone over this completely, we're going to hand rake and remove a lot of these stones from the surface. But right now we just have a little bit of work in going back and forth with this plate compactor to make sure that everything is getting leveled up correctly.

Phil: We're using sheets of plywood to protect the existing lawn. And we're using our mini skid-steer to bring in the crushed aggregate stone base.  In our area, in the southeast, we call this crusher run. Sometimes it's refer to as GAB. Other times its referred to as road base. This material can be purchased recycled or can be purchased according to DOT specifications.

Stan: Now I want you to be careful about what material you choose to use beneath your artificial turf. Because if you opt to go with recycled material, I've actually seen it contain, thank you, wood fragments, glass, and even wire. And eventually this can poke up and through the artificial turf. Now recycled material is great beneath a paver patio where there's a hard surface blocking that from happening. But with artificial turf, nothing's something it from popping up and poking your little tootsies.

Phil: Recycled material often has a very high fine content. Fines are just, they're almost like talcum powder. Just the finest grains and par ticals that trap water. We want to have a low fine content. So we tend to use DOT product only and not recycled product.

Phil: A lot of our bases in the process of being prepared right now. You can see that we're digging one hole right here. When we were walking across the base, you saw that as this project began that we had to make some soil corrections to it. We put in about 10 tons of the three quarter inch stone. But, after we started compacting, this ground appeared to be firm. We went ahead and put our crushed stone base on top and we began compacting. Well, one of the things to note, when you use a vibratory plate compactor it actually pulls water up from from the ground and brings it back to the surface. If you have any areas that still require soil correction, they're going to become evident.

Phil: And the way we notice is we step on it with our feet. And when we step left and right we'll see the ground in between pumping. And when you see it doing that, it has no structural ability to hold that turf. All of that is gonna translate right through to the turf surface. So if you don't stop here and we keep on working, we're gonna have big problems in our turf. So we resist the temptation to say, "Oh, it's nothing, it's just one small area". No, every area has got to make sure it's sitting on a solid foundation. Otherwise, it will translate more in artificial turf than it even might in a paver application. Although in either application you would need to make this correction.

Phil: So what we're gonna do is we're gonna dig out the [inaudible 00:11:45] and we're gonna leave this hole open and need the sun to come in and dry it. And then we're gonna fill it again with more stone and put the crush stone base back on top. And this area should be just fine. So this repair is gonna cost us about an hours worth of time total. I mean, we've been digging for ten minutes and we nearly have the whole area dug out. And it's gonna cost us a little bit of material. But, one problem we won't have is any call backs on this project.

Phil: Okay, we're all complete with the base preparation. And Eduardo and the guys have made this look absolutely beautiful. What we've done, after we put in the compacted crushed aggregate base, or the crusher run base, is we've gone back in with a very fine layer of granite sand. In our area, we know that as M10, over the whole surface in order to get this as smooth as absolutely possible. And I gotta tell you right now this looks almost like a sheet of ice, which is perfect. This is gonna create a very good surface, subsurface, for any putting green balls, any golf balls to just roll very, very easily on this surface.

Phil: So the next step is, you see this blue painted line, this is gonna be our green. Everything outside of this blue line is going to be the fringe. And so the next step is to lay the green out, to lay the fringe out, start cutting the pieces and then we're going to continue on with seaming. One step that we're gonna take right now is we're gonna go ahead and mark out our hole locations so we know where to place the putting cups and we'll do that right now.

Phil: Okay, so here we go. We've revised the layout of the turf. As you saw, we needed to cut these corners off so we didn't have butt seams. So we've made it more rectangular and just rounded off the corners. That's gonna allow us to optimize this turf. And now we're placing in the putting cups, the individual holes that you will actually putt to. So we're laying it out on a triangular pattern. I've come in about four and a half feet, almost five feet to this location here. We've got another one down here that you can see. And we have our third hole down here. Now, ideally, this would have been a perfect triangle, but that would have put our third hole right in the middle of a seam on the artificial turf. You never want to put a putting cup hole right in the middle on seam. So we've in set it about 16 inches from where the seam will end up being and we're gonna install these putting cups.

Phil: These putting cups, you have to decide how deep to install them based on the thickness of your turf. Now here, I am dealing with a very, very thin turf.  So this is a polypropylene turf. If I was dealing with a nylon, a nylon would be much thicker. Maybe up to a quarter inch thick. If it was a thicker green material, then I would want to set these cups to be just slightly above the surface of the ground, probably by about an eighth of an inch to almost a quarter of an inch. In this case with super thin turf, I'm gonna set the top of this cup flush to the ground right here. And that will allow this turf to lay in nicely and still make sure that the cup is not level with the turf. Level is bad. If you make it level, that ball is likely to come up and just stop at the cup without rolling in. You need to get it slightly below the level of the turf so the ball will roll in smoothly.

Phil: You wanna make sure that this cup is level front to back, side to side. If it's not, then the ball won't roll evenly on it. So once you get the cup in just compact around it to set that into place.

Phil: Okay, so one thing to note is that if you have an imperfection in your turf anywhere underneath. If you have an area of the turf that is a little less smooth or rolls a little bit different, it's not gonna be nearly as noticeable as if it is uneven or imperfect right around the putting cup. In no place in the green will flaws be more noticeable than right at the putting cup. The golfers gonna know that if they're putting the ball towards the hole and at the last minute it rolls the wrong direction, then you know that you've got a problem with it and you've made a mistake. So you do want to take a little bit of your fine or medium sand, lay it down just to get that surface to be incredibly smooth all the way around the hole.

Stan: Alright guys, in the next video of this series we're going to actually finish this installation and show you all of the detail work that you need to know so that you can take this to a completed project. Now, one of the things I've seen right away is they didn't use a whole lot of heavy equipment. In fact, they just had one mini skid-loader that they could have rented form anywhere. They had 150-200 pound plate packer and then a few wheelbarrows, some shovels and rakes. The most important thing they had was knowledge. They knew how to put everything in order to complete the job.

Stan: What Phil and I hope to accomplish with this video series is to give you guys that knowledge so that if you want to go out and tackle your own job, you can. Let me know what you think of this series in the comments down below, or give me a big thumbs up. Because coming up next is the rest of this installation. And then we're going to help you guys take on bidding, estimating and understanding how to charge for a service like this. And if you guys wanna see anything else, let me know in the comments down below, and we'll try to put that together for you. God bless you guys, go get them. I hope this helps. 


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