What Thickness Of Turf Do You Need?

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Originally posted on May 12, 2021

When you’re thinking about installing artificial turf, you want to make sure that you’ve got the right thickness for the job. But that’s not the only consideration or concern. In this guide, we’ll take you through the appropriate thicknesses of turf, as well as how you can install turf properly, or at least purchase the right turf for installation. 

How Thick Should Turf Be?

The short answer is: it depends. The thickness of turf will be totally dependent on where it will be installed and what type of job you need it to do. Let’s talk more about that. 

Turf Factory Direct What thickness turf do you need? turf application thickness guide

How to Pick the Right Turf

The thickness of turf (how luscious and dense it is) is determined by face weight, pile height and gauge.

  • Face weight refers to how many ounces of yarn are used per square yard of turf. The higher the face weight, the denser the turf’s artificial grass will be. 
  • Pile refers to the specific length of fibers within a panel of artificial turf, which affects the utility of the turf. 
  • The gauge of artificial turf usually refers to the width between rows of stitches in a given weave of turf. This smaller the gauge, the heavier the face weight, and the denser the the grass. 

A turf’s purpose and location determines how dense it should be, and is often used to describe the combination of face weight, pile, and gauge. 

More importantly, there’s going to be a tactile component to picking the right turf. In addition to the characteristics described above, you’re going to want to make sure that you’ve picked turf that feels right. You want it to be comfortable and suited to the task. So make sure that you give it a feel before purchasing, just in case. We have sample swatches of turf to do just that!

The Right Turf for Landscaping 

The average range for residential lawn synthetic turf face weight is about 40 to 90 ounces per square yard. For that range, a pile height of 1 to 3 inches creates a good general-purpose grass that can be used for fairways or just all-around turf.

Shorter piles, on the other hand, are better for yards that are going to see more wear and tear. When it comes to selecting the right type of artificial landscaping turf, it’s going to require a bit of exploration. Some turf might be too soft, some might not be the right pile height. The goal is to find an all-around solution that’s right in the middle. 

A pile height of 1 ½ to 2 ½  inches is often right in the middle. A dense grass will feel softer, fuller, and lusher, which is why many people tend to prefer a high face weight for residential installations. .

Find the right turf for your project with landscaping turf samples!

The Right Turf for Pets

For dogs and other furry friends, a lighter face weight and a pile height of 1 to 1.25 inches is usually best for dogs, which also makes cleanup easier. Shorter piles are better for yards that are going to see more wear and tear, and that includes animal companions. Turf is pet safe because it’s so durable, and most infills and are pet-safe. Get more helpful hints and tips from our Guide to Pet Turf Installation

The Right Turf for Sports Fields

Football and other sports often put a lot of stress on players’ bodies. Especially in contact sports, it’s important to have a turf that has cushioning and can absorb impact. To this end, most athletic turf fields have a pile height of 2 to 3 inches with a heavier face weight. 

With many athletic and sports fields, making sure that a quality shock-absorbing infill is used is helpful as well. Many athletic turf fields use crumb rubber as infill for its shock absorbency, but it can retain a lot of heat. If the turf isn’t in direct sun, rubber infill can be a great solution for sports and other athletic activities. 

Similarly to football fields, playground turf should provide shock absorbency for the inevitable tumbles that kids take. Typically, a playground turf installation has a heavier face weight with a pile height of 1 to 3 inches. Crumb rubber infill is also commonly used for playground turf, but the heat retention of crumb rubber infill for kids turf can be a concern in hotter climates.

While turf soccer fields should have some padding for the athletes to run, jump, and occasionally fall on, it’s not the main priority since soccer is not a contact sport. Like putting greens, you want the right amount of resistance for the ball to roll on. Soccer can use a little bit more height than putting greens though, so look for turf that has a pile height 1.25 inches and under.

For putting turf, the shorter the better for the ball to roll across. Generally a pile height of 1 inch and under will be sufficient to allow the right amount of friction for indoor or outdoor putting. Get a putting green sample today to find the right turf for you!

While batting cages don’t need as much padding and traction as other sport surfaces, turf makes the surface more comfortable and durable to walk and stand on. 1 inch and under is the recommended pile height for indoor and outdoor batting cages.

The Right Turf for Indoor Facilities

Artificial turf isn’t just for outdoor applications like landscaping, putting courses, and sports fields, it can be a fantastic surface for gym and HIIT flooring. If professional athletes can play sports on turf, non-athletes can also use turf for a variety of activities and workouts to reach their fitness goals. Find the right indoor athletic turf for your facility and get an indoor turf sample.  

FAQs about Turf

On the topic of turf thickness, one of the important things when picking turf is how turf feels, and there are a number of factors that can affect that in addition to the thickness of turf. 

Do I need topsoil before laying turf?

No, in fact, you might need to remove some of the existing topsoil, to ensure that the artificial grass will sit at the level you need it to. The most important thing is that the area is level. 

How much soil do you need under turf?

Your artificial turf base might not necessarily be soil, but you’ll need crushed rock, sand, or gravel under 10mm, usually about 3 inches deep to improve overall drainage. For every 100 square feet of lawn, you’ll need one cubic yard of gravel. 

What is the best soil to put under turf?

Again, you might not need to use soil, but generally speaking, well-aerated soil is the best choice. 

What should I put down before laying turf?

You should never lay artificial grass directly on top of existing grass or soil. A base is required to help keep the artificial turf laying flat and even, allowing for drainage and preventing tears and damage.

The base allows the turf to drain up to 30 inches of water per hour in most cases. In most artificial turf installations, the best base to use is a ¾” down to a ¼” crushed drain rock. These rocks can be found at your local rock yards and may have several names.  You do not want to use a well-rounded rock like most pea gravels, as they will not compact well.  Some common names for the base rock material are crushed stone, breeze rock, chat decomposed granite (DG), crusher fine gravel, Class 2 Aggregate, or Class 2 Roadbase.

Base Application

As a general rule of thumb, 1 TON (2,000 LBS) of rock base will cover approximately 100 sq ft. of artificial turf with a 2” base.  If you need a 4” base, you need 4000 LBS.  Spread the base material around your project area evenly as possible. You may want to use the back of a bow rake or similar tool.

Base Depth

Base heights may vary from climate to climate and from project to project. A 4” base is the standard recommended base; however, in some arid climates, the base may be as low as 2”.  In colder climates, a deeper base of 4” will most likely be needed to aid in the ground’s expansion and contraction due to freezing weather.

There are many different options to choose from for an artificial turf base. No matter what you choose, be sure to prepare the base properly to prevent slumping and improve drainage.

Homeowners and pet facilities have experienced faster and better drainage of dog urine to reduce odor with a ¾” rock.

If the turf is going on concrete, you can place a rubber shock pad into the area instead of crushed gravel or rock.

It is not a requirement to apply an additional underlay beneath turf. However, many people use and recommend certain turf underlays for different applications: 

  • Padded underlay for sports fields and playgrounds, or turf laid on concrete to provide extra cushioning underfoot.
  • Drainage underlay on roofs, concrete patios, lawns with poor drainage or flooding problems, or indoor pet facilities. Drainage will be key, so ensuring that whatever ends up beneath your turf is able to properly absorb and drain liquids is key.
  • Weed barriers for lawns and landscaping that’s prone to weed growth. Artificial turf itself and the turf installation process is usually enough to suppress weed growth, but every once in a while, a few can sneak through, and it’s hard to get rid of them once they do. If you are concerned about weeds growing, you can prevent this by installing a geotextile barrier around the outer edges. Alternatively, this weed barrier can be installed at the base. You can also place rodent wire here if your area is prone to mice or rats.

How do I remove sod?

You can utilize a sod cutter, hoe, or shovel to cut grass, sod, or any other unwanted vegetation from your lawn. Remove sod or any additional topsoil currently in your project area.  Also, remove any large rocks or roots that are in the way.

What is infill?

Infill is the material that is spread over turf during installation. It helps the artificial grass stand up, as well as providing drainage and cushioning. Infill comes in a variety of types from sand to synthetic infills. Some infills have specific applications, such as turf cooling infill, crumb rubber for sports fields or infills for pet turf

How much maintenance and upkeep does an artificial lawn need?

Artificial turf is a low-maintenance investment that can save you money, especially when compared to a natural grass lawn. It needs to be cleaned regularly, especially if you have pets, and gentle brooming or raking will also keep it looking fresh.

Can you put artificial turf on residential lawns?

Absolutely! You can put turf on a number of unconventional surfaces, and you can even put turf on your roof! While artificial turf is often seen on athletic fields and putting greens, newer products designed specifically for residential use are more accessible than ever before. It’s low-hassle, looks good, and conserves water. Local governments and homeowners associations have regulations regarding synthetic lawns, so make sure that you’ve checked all ordinances before installation. 

Will installing artificial turf affect property values?

Quality landscaping can end up doubling the return on investment, and artificial turf is no exception. Plus, low maintenance lawns are a major factor in helping a home sell quickly. 

How long does artificial grass last?

Well maintained artificial turf can last up to 20 years, but the average turf lifespan is 10 to 15 years. 

Is artificial turf safe for kids?

Artificial turf lawns are safe for kids. In fact, playgrounds use artificial grass because it’s softer than natural grass, protecting kids from falling injuries. You can often find swing sets anchored to artificial grass. Additionally, there’s no pollen production, and most infills are anti-microbial, keeping the likelihood of bacterial spread low. 

Turf Factory Direct: Experts on Your Team

At Turf Factory Direct, we’re an industry-leading supplier of premium artificial grass products. No matter what you’re looking for, our selection of turf has you covered for any need. Whether it’s commercial, residential, or athletic purposes, get in touch with us today to learn more about how your next turf project can be the best one.