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Chapter 6: The Layout

“No one else ever mentioned that before.” If I hear one statement from customers, I hear this. And honestly, I’m not surprised as most sales reps are not trained installers. The reality is that the little things done right add up to more cost. These costs are usually the difference in a lost job by a certified company and the start of problems for clients. So, it’s really an important topic though it seems simple.


Why is that true?


Well, it’s here we identify all the potential pitfalls and issues that will occur over time. When you install turf there are two directions you need to look. The first is up and the second is sideways.

Wait? Turf goes on the ground why would you look sideways and up? Great question!


You look up first to see the flow of water off the roof (see blog on Nothing but Water) that water can do more damage to a new turf job in the shortest amount of time. An example: Recently I was in Las Vegas which has a very hot and arid climate. There’s a lot of turf in Las Vegas and not much rain traditionally. Because they don’t get much rain the traditional installation method is used. Nails and aggregate with a thin weed barrier as a weed repellent. However, this year they got several flash floods that ran aggressively through the strip. Well as you would have it, those bases where statured and the anchors loosed under the weight. I walked around all over and just shook my head as whole areas would now have to receive major repairs or replacements. The reality is that if they would have installed for potential water that could have been avoided. The other point I wanted to make is that when turf salesmen give you a pitch, one of the things that they tell you is that turf is practically no maintenance. Well, we will have a future blog on this topic but in this case, I make the point that’s true only if it’s installed with all the potentially problems in mind and correctly. It’s also here that you as a consumer has to decide on future risk or future contentment. The cost to repair is far more expensive than the original cost done correctly.

By looking up you will know immediately what needs to be done on the roof line and underground.


Second you must look sideways. Windows and direction. This will determine the type of turf (as well as the advice on setting up proper window screens) which can be a pretty penny to install. And the direction the grain of the turf should run. Below are two classic examples of these issues that have come to pass. You have turf that has too much shine because its installed facing the wrong direction. A slope with only metal edging. And the neighbor’s house with gutters facing toward the slope. I also noted the indentions in the turf where the nails are driven too deep. These are all future issues that will occur rather rapidly. This creates a bright plastic look. Not the curb appeal you want. The other has a combination of both. Melted and displaced turf. Once the base drops the turf will sink creating bubbles or worse. Most likely not the outcome you wanted after spending all that money to make your area look beautiful.

You have looked up and sideways, what’s next?


Next is side to side. What’s in the area? Lots of factors to consider before you even consider the turf. Let’s lay it out for you:

We have two separate projects: see if you can identify the issues that need to be considered in these photos


Photo one has a downhill slope. The rock in the front of the patio identifies a problem already. The slope is causing the soil to erode and the water is bunching up in that section. Why? Well notice the gutters? But more importantly the real issue is not even on the property. The issue is the house behind the fence. The customer wants a more level area to make the yard usable. He already had two other proposals but when I walked on the property. I pointed out several factors that needed to accomplish his wanted purpose. Below is the layout needed to make this yard useful:

We needed to install a concrete footer and channel drain at the top. Reroute all the drains and have an exit point off the property in a drainage are. Then lift the area up almost 6 inches to level the yard out. All this was absolutely needed to create a usable area that would last. The other proposals were much less, but didn’t account for any of these factors. See the results:

Now this client has a super functional backyard with a highly drainable system in place. Was it more money on the front end? Of course. Will he enjoy this yard for years to come without issue? Absolutely!


I also want you to notice that the whole side of this house is glass. The only option this client had was nylon turf. If I would have installed a non-nylon turf with nails it would have burned, shifted, and bubbled in the first major rainstorm. He got cheaper quotes but he made the right decision and did it right.


The last message received from my client: “We ******* love the back yard now!” Priceless!


The second Install layout was much more complex because of all these factors. It’s a preschool and church so safety was paramount. It has high volumes of water coming off the building as well as a large planter with irrigation concerns and aggregate walkways. Because of all these factors a proper layout is absolute.

So, to account for water, safety, and aggregate; several factors were required. A concrete footer was needed to separate the three areas. The concrete footers would be used to shield the base from rocks, weeds, and water flow. And most importantly a surface to use adhesive to secure the turf. This way there are zero sharp objects to harm a child. The areas pitch and height needed to be adjusted to make the area usable and the irrigation system reworked to provide for the new Xeriscaping. In order to do this, extra drains needed to be added. Here is another application that is best facilitated with a nylon turf.


Check out the end results:

You have a complete functional drainage system with a super safe play area for the children. Before you criticize the tree wells, read the tree section as I’ve developed what I believe to be a good solution to the CRZ and absorption rate of water for the trees along with a feeding system that provides the trees both nutrients and air.




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