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

Every day homeowners ask us about the cost of artificial grass installation project. What is included in price? How can I save money? What if? etc.

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 quality of installation

Keep reading through a real life sample to see:

  • what comes into cost
  • how installers may cut corners
  • consequences of poor job

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

  1. Direct materials
  2. Direct labor
  3. Profit & overhead
  4. Free estimates

The project in this example is a typical 500 sq.ft. rectangle 20×25 ft., backyard area, requested by a family with kids.

Direct Materials

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

Base

6.5 cubic yards of road base and 1 cubic yard of decomposed granite. The cost of materials with delivery is $600, dzzzing.

Hauling – $500, dzzziing

Cut corners by:

  • Take out less soil, leaving weed routs in the ground. It takes 1-2 rains to have weeds growing through artificial grass.
  • Do not clean the sides. Weeds grow most often along the sides because more moisture comes from hard surface. Weed barrier 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
  • Compact borders same as center, leaving border area poorly compacted.- detached borders
  • Level border equally with the surface, instead of 1/3 inch below the surface. – torn borders

Bender boards

Our project required 45ft or bender board. $60 Dzzing.

Cut corners by:

  • Not using bender boards at all. – allow the base to expand.
  • Using wooden stakes to fix bender boards. – breaks early
  • Not hiding stakes. – visual imperfection
  • Using less stakes to fix bender boards. – breaks early
  • Leaving hazard when bender board is placed above pavement. – dangerous

Weed barrier

500 sq.ft.,  1/3 roll. $30 Dzzzing

Cut corners by:

  • Using cheap weed barrier.- weeds growing
  • Placing weed barrier under the base to save time on attaching it to the surface. – weeds growing

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 85 oz grass with cool technology and W shape blade. This grass typically runs for $3/sq. ft. plus $120 delivery. But, we will have to purchase 600 sq.ft. of material to complete installation with only 1 seam. $1800, Dzzzing.

Cut corners by:

  • Purchasing 500 sq.ft. of material and complete installation with patches. – visible seams
  • Putting less nails into the ground to fix artificial grass.- less secure
  • Putting nails quickly, resulting in grass fiber captured by nail heads. – visible imperfection

Seaming materials

Gluing the seam is recommended, but can be avoided when seam is fixed every 2-4 inches. $150 anyway, Dzzing.

Cut corners by:

  • Doing job quick and sloppy, or long and tired. – visible seams
  • Less nails. – easy to detach

Infill (sand on top of artificial grass)

Manufacturers recommend more infill then homeowners usually prefer. Much white silica sand may become visible. Green sand becomes hot under the sun. 10 bags is most common  – $50 Dzzing.

Cut corners by:

  • Well, no cutting corners here. Use spreader, do not forget the sides.

Direct labor

This is where it gets really interesting. Such project can be completed in 1 day by 5 people with right equipment or in 2 days by 3 people with right equipment. $1,500 Dzzing.

1 day installation often meets overtime. Workers get tired and begin making mistakes. 90% of all accidents occur in the last hour of work (CSLB). Pushing the project in one day only seems more efficient, but, in fact, it costs more, brings more risk and results in 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.  We were heroes. But our experience tells that heroes cost more, do less, and bring unnecessary risk.

Profit and Overhead

A team that is making less than $1,000 from short term seasonal projects is doomed for extinction.

Let’s see where we stand:

Doing it rightCutting corners
Base $600 $400
Hauling $500 $400
Bender boards $60 $-
Weed barrier $30 $30
Artificial grass $1,800 $1,500
Seaming $150 $60
Infill $50 $50
Direct labor $1,500 $1,000
Total before profit $4,690 $3,440
Profit & Overhead $1,000 $1,000
Total $5,690 $4,440
Per sq.ft. $11.38 $8.88

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, 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, Angie’s list, Houzz and other guys charge us for every click, for every impression, so we could 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 1 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 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.