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Chapter 4: I Got Framed

Updated: Jun 28

Weight differentials

So, we have discussed how the base needs something to push against in my previous post. Now I want to address the frame that holds the whole thing in place. Let’s start by explaining some weight differentials.

1 Cubic yard of aggregate commonly weighs between 2000 and 3000 pounds. That’s approximately 110 pounds per cubic foot. Sand and ballast are virtually the same except sand can weigh as much as 130 pounds wet.

Metal frames

There are many great landscaping products in the industry that work as edging for certain applications. But we are not installing flower beds. We are installing synthetic grass. I know everyone has a reason for their installation methods and items that they use. I want to point out the reasons I find these frames to be inferior to other options.

Let’s start with metal frames. In most cases when I walk onto a repair job, I find a metal edge border with nails for anchors. It seems the preferred choice of most landscapers. Looking for a very inexpensive material that will give you a clean look, and for a cheap temporary install its ok, but let’s talk about some red flags in regard to using it for turf.

Unless you are using heavy gauge steel edging that is fabricated on site designed particularly for a retention wall, and this can be a very modern look which will last, it is however a very expensive option:

Landscape metal edging usually has five stake points in a 16-foot section. These work fine for a flower bed but remember your having to hold in all that weight so any place there is not a stake is a place that the metal will flex away from the base. That little flex creates a gap and once that water hits that little gap it shifts that foundation ever so slightly. Once that happen a negative process begins. It’s just a matter of time before the base is no longer structurally sound.

The metal stakes are pounded into the ground and can break irrigation lines as well as rusting and become very sharp. Many times, they become loose and lift about the edging itself. If you’re going to use this type of edging, I recommend a stake every 12 inches to securely hold it in place. Just remember that these are all temporary borders anyway so expect to replace those well before the turf warranty expires.

A metal edge cannot be used to anchor your turf, so you will need to use a 6 in nail. Once those nails are driven into that area, usually on the edge, you have already displaced the base. This displacement is enough to cause the erosion process to begin and the more rain you receive the faster that process. (You might not see it initially but it’s coming.) The more rain the faster the weeds. The more rain the heavier the turf. The heavier the turf the more pressure it puts on the frame.

Lumber frames

Lumber is also used. This works better but I have also seen it rot pretty quickly. My greatest concern about lumber is that if it’s used for a tact board the screws and nails don’t hold long and create a hazard.


I want to address fences as well. You cannot use the fence as a frame. The base escapes through the cracks. It makes replacing the fence near impossible if you want to save your base. It also creates a place for animals (particularly dogs) to get their paws under the turf and pull the turf back. It also prematurely rots the wood!

There are better options for frame installation. Have questions on what those are? Drop us a note and we will discuss safer more effect methods from the field.

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