Our most frequently asked question is “How Much Does Artificial Grass Cost to Install?”
Due to popular demand, we thought it would be a good idea to address this question here in full detail.
For this exercise, let’s assume we are working with a 1,000 sqft of front lawn that is looking to be replaced with EcoLawn. (Please note: All figures discussed in this example are based on Southern California/Santa Barbara area pricing and will need to be adjusted based on your geographical location). The pricing listed below reflects a project 500 sqft and above.There are 5 main costs:
- Materials (i.e. Artificial Turf, Weed Barrier Fabric, Class II Road Base and Decomposed Granite, Infill, Bender Board, Nails, etc.)
- Operation Fees (i.e Dump Fees, Fueling Fees, Delivery Fees, etc.)
- Company Overhead (i.e Workers Comp, General Liability Insurance, Advertising, General Office Expenses, etc.)
- Company Profit
When considering the materials needed for an artificial grass installation, you would be looking at the following:
- Artificial grass
- Class II recycled road base
- Decomposed granite
- Weed barrier fabric
- Bender board or other edging material and stakes
- Misc. (i.e. lawn padding, flag set, golf cups, etc.)
There are many different styles of synthetic lawn to choose….from pet turf, to putting greens, to athletic turf, to landscaping turf which is the most popular. The landscaping turf can have thick blades, thin blades, tall blades, short blades, brown thatching (to resemble dead grass) to green thatching, you name it.
For the sake of this exercise, let’s assume we are talking about medium to high-grade synthetic turf, which are by far the most popular selection when presented with all your options.
(note: Think about it, you are investing in a synthetic product, that being fake grass, so it makes sense to get the best-looking grass out there which resembles the real thing. Otherwise, you might as well just save your money and go ahead and paint your dead lawn green and call it a day. There is a BIG difference between low to high-end turf….a BIG difference! The last thing you want is to go from an ugly dead lawn to one that screams FAKE, or to a lawn that blinds your neighbors as they walk by your house due to your poor quality selection — all just to save a few bucks).
Typically, the medium to high-grade synthetic lawns run anywhere from $2.00/sqft plus tax to $3.50/sqft plus tax, all depending on which manufacturer and style you choose. Keep in mind that you will have to account for waste when ordering the material.
Let’s assume we select one of the most popular turfs, which happens to be a med-high-grade turf. It is not the cheapest, however, it is definitely not the most expensive by far. We are going to use this one in this example due to its popularity. This particular turf is $3.10/sqft plus tax. For the sake of this exercise let’s also assume there is going to be 15% waste.
The waste factor will vary depending on the shape of your project. On average, there is usually 10-20% waste on turf projects. For instance, if you have a “pie shaped” yard, you will be looking at a lot more waste than a rectangular yard. The turf is rolled out like carpet and typically comes in 15ft widths, so if you can try to imagine the grass being rolled out in your head, you can visualize how much waste there is going to be with a pie-shaped (or any irregular shaped yard) vs. a simple rectangle.
Quick Number Crunching:
Now, if we add 15% to 1,000 sqft, we get 1,150 sqft. Let’s multiply 1,150 sqft by our turf cost of $3.10/sqft and then by 8% to account for taxes (Southern California). We get $3,850.20 (1,150sqft x $3.10/sqft x 8% = $3,850.20) .
To figure out the price/sqft we would divide $3,850.20 by 1,000 sqft and we come up with $3.85/sqft, which takes into account the 15% waste and 8% California sales taxes.
Let’s take a look at the next material, that being the class II recycled road base and decomposed granite. We install 3-4” of class II road base and ¼” decomposed granite on the top. Using 1,000sqft, we would be looking at about 10 cubic yards of road base, which comes out to around $280. We’ll need ⅔ yard of decomposed granite, which would be about $84 for this project.
The next item to think about is the weed barrier fabric. A typical roll comes with 1500 sqft of fabric, so that will be plenty for this project. At $90 a pop, we are looking at $97.20 (including tax) for the fabric.
Up next is the bender board or poly board. The 4in. height brown poly board sells for about $20 per roll which is 20ft long ($21.55 including taxes). There are cheaper alternatives (or more expensive, i.e. steel header), however, we have found this board to stand the test of time(which means it will save you money in the long run).
You will need to figure out how many soft-scape edges you have, which will determine how many rolls you will need to order. For this example, let’s say the dimensions of your lawn are 25ft wide by 40ft long (25 sqft x 40sqft = 1,000sqft) and we would need a the bender board to support all sides except the 25ft that abuts up against your garden wall(which is made of concrete).
If we add up the 3 sides, we get 105 lineal feet that will need to be retained. So we will need to purchase 6 pieces of polyboard to cover 105ft. This comes to $129.30 including taxes. Keep in mind that this is just the cost of the material, this does not include installing the poly board, which will need to be installed with stakes. About 1 stake for every foot of poly board. To account for the stakes and installation you will need to add roughly $1.47/lnft. So the total for the poly board install of 105ft would be $283.65.
Next up is the nails and infill. This is also going to vary on each project. Ordering the minimum quantity (you will have extras) of each item we will need, we would be looking at about $82 for the nails (2 boxes).
For the infill, we use a 50-50 blend of silica sand and volcanic ash, both very high quality, non toxic and both a turf deodorizer and an anti-microbial. A standard installation uses around 1.5lbs of infill per sqft. This installation would require 5 bags of each infill, at $11 per bag for the deodorizer and $15 for the silica sand, we are looking at $130 in infill for a 1,000sqft lawn.
That just about covers the “very basic standard material costs” for 1,000sqft artificial grass.
Now, let’s turn our attention to the Operational Costs.
These include dump fees(dirt, grass, concrete, etc.), fueling costs, and delivery fees.
For a 1,000 sqft lawn we would have roughly 2 trips to the dump (2 truckloads of grass and dirt). At approximately $100 for each load, we would have a total of $200 in dump fees. This number varies greatly depending on the weight of the load, whether it is mostly grass, whether the material is wet, if there is concrete or other debris that is included.
Fueling costs are a little too difficult as it all depends on the proximity to the dump and the exact materials that we are hauling away. Let’s just pick a safe number for this example and say it costs $150 in fueling fees throughout the course of the project. This shouldn’t be that far off, if at all.
The last item is the cost of delivery which will range from $80-250 per trip, all depending on the manufacturer and distance to the project. For this example we will use $200, this will include the delivery of thegrass material and substrate materials.
Next up is the Labor Cost.
This is the difference maker, as everything else that has been provided is the exact same across the board from one company to the next. You absolutely 100% get what you pay for in the labor department in terms of the long term durability and integrity of your project.
There are installers who have been installing artificial grass for 6-12 months and there are installers who been installing turf for years, day in and day out. Our team specializes in artificial grass installation and are a professional, well oiled machine.
For a solid crew, who has the experience that you should want for your installation, you would be looking at $3.00- $5.05/sqft for the labor. Our labor costs are greatly determined on the difficulty level of the installation. An “easy” installation would be a project with easy access and very little detail work. A “difficult” installation would be one with difficult access and lots of detail work. For the purpose of this example, we will assume this is an “easy” installation.
At 1,000 sqft, for an easy installation, that would be around $3,000 in labor costs. (1000sqft x $3.00/sqft = $3,000)
Also keep in mind that there is labor involved in both the installation of the new EcoLawn AND the removal of the existing landscaping- whether that is traditional grass, dirt, or other landscaping/debris.
You can always go cheap here, however, the last thing you want is to be regretting that decision later down the road when your project is falling apart and the company is out of business or day laborers are nowhere to be found. If you are looking to get your installation done right the first time and never have to think about it again, then you will want to pay the extra money to get a solid installation crew to install your project. This is definitely not an area to shave off a few dollars.
Moving on…lets tally up what we have so far:
Material for 1,000 sqft Artificial Lawn (rough estimates)
- Artificial grass = $3,850.20
- Class II road base = $280
- Decomposed granite = $84
- Weed barrier fabric = $97.20
- Bender board & stakes = $283.65
- Nails = $82
- infill = $130
- misc. (i.e. drainage membrane, lawn padding, flag set, golf cups, etc.) = $0 (let’s assume no extras)
- TOTAL = $4,807.05
Operation Costs for 1,000 sqft Artificial Lawn (rough estimates)
Dump Fees = $200
Delivery Fee = $200
Fueling Fees = $150
TOTAL = $550
Labor for 1,000 sqft Artificial Lawn (8 person team, taking 1-2 days to complete) (rough estimates)
Difficult Installation = $5.05/sqft
Easy Installation = $3.00/sqft
TOTAL (Assuming Easy Installation) = $3,000
GRAND TOTAL = $8,357.05
Keep in mind that this figure of $7,022.18, is the cost BEFORE the installation company has paid for any of their overhead costs (aka “costs of doing business” and more importantly the costs to remain in business as a legal entity).
AND this is also the cost BEFORE the installation company has made a penny in profit.
After all, making a profit is probably one of the main driving factors to being in business unless the intent is to become a nonprofit. We are not aware of any nonprofit turf companies out there. If you know of any, please let us know.
Moving right along to the Overhead Costs:
Listed below are some of the Overhead Costs for a legitimate synthetic grass company:
Workers Compensation Insurance
General Liability Insurance
CA Licensing Fees
Administrative Staffing Fees
Certifications (BBB, ICPI, etc.)
Office Expenses (B-Cards, Contracts/Diagrams, Yard Signs, Car Magnets, Company Shirts, Company Phones, Website,
Hosting Fees, Internet, Computers, Camera, Credit Card Processing System, Office Rent, Yard Expense, Electricity, General Supplies (tape measure, landscaping paint, etc.)
The overhead costs are not limited to what is described above and it is too difficult to attach an “overhead number” to each installation, however, the point is to showcase that there are quite a few costs that do add up when analyzing the anatomy of a synthetic turf deal, aside from the material and labor costs.
Again, there are a lot of companies out there that do not intend on using the best crews, and Do Not intend on operating legally, so they can and will, offer you a much more enticing “cheaper price.”
Once all of the overhead is paid, the materials are all paid, the operating expenses are paid and the labor is paid, then what is left over, if anything, is the company profit.
Let’s keep rolling with this example…
We will go ahead and just pick a number to work with for the overhead. Let’s go with an overhead figure of 10%, which is definitely erring on the LOW side. Marketing, Workers Comp, and Payroll Expenses alone are at least 10%, let alone everything else on the list above. Keep in mind that we have been erring on the low side in this entire exercise.
So if we use 10% for the overhead costs in this example, we would be looking at $835.70 for the overhead expenses ($8,357.05 x 10% = $835.70).
Adding the overhead to our previous total, we now have a Rough Cost of $9,192.75 for a 1,000 sqft synthetic lawn or $9.19/sqft.
Now, anything less than $9.19/sqft, should be “red flagged” immediately ONLY IF you are interested in getting your installation completed right the 1st time, which would include the highest quality materials manufactured in the USA, a highly skilled turf installation team who have been installing for years (not months), a professional synthetic turf designer, a dedicated construction manager supervising your install and a robust company that will be around to assist you in the future should you need help.
Knowing this information, what do you think an artificial grass installation company should make to remain a healthy and happy company? Should they make 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%?
Please note that the money that is left over, which we have labeled “Company Profit Share,” is to pay for the Field Supervisor, the Design Consultant who assisted you with your project, and The Company as a whole, so they can continue to grow and thrive as a robust business. Oh yeah, and what if you have a repair that needs to be addressed during the warranty of your installation? You see…the company needs to ensure they have properly set aside a repair contingency fund for each project so that when a repair call or email comes into the office, they are prepared and ready to get your repair scheduled and most importantly fixed to your complete satisfaction. If a company is operating on fumes which a lot of turf companies are these days, you can assume your repair call will not be a top priority whatsoever as they will have to take the money from another job to pay the crew to go out and fix the repair. This will turn into a dangerous snowball effect which will eventually end in the company’s demise. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen to you.
With that said, here are some figures to chew on:
At a 10% margin, your price would be = $10,112.02 (company profit share = $919.27)
At a 20% margin, your price would be = $11,031.30 (company profit share = $1,838.55)
At a 30% margin, your price would be = $11,950.57 (company profit share = $2,757.82)
What price do you think is fair?
In this exercise, we have been assuming the Middle to Least Expensive Scenarios for all the components involved with determining your turf installation price.
When looking at these prices, you can get a very good idea as to what you might expect your project will cost on the medium to low end. Please keep in mind: there are so many factors that can come into play which will raise the price of your project(i.e. the accessibility of your install in terms of whether it is in the front yard – backyard – upstairs – downstairs or even through your house, to the type of turf you choose, drainage issues, excessive roots, how many sqft you have, whether you want a putting green, extra labor costs, etc.)
The Bottom Line:
The key takeaway of this post is to really shed some light as to what a typical artificial turf project might cost. By unveiling the curtain and allowing you to have a sneak peak inside to see how the numbers breakdown, we hope that this provides you with the confidence you need to make the right decision on which contractor to use to install your synthetic lawn.
As you can see from the breakdown above, the only way a company could possibly offer you a lower price than what we have mapped out for you in this example is if they are:
A.) using a less experienced crew and pay them less than what we have outlined about which is considered industry standard
B.) using sub-par materials (whether it be the grass, or the accessories, it is vital to make sure you are investing in the highest quality materials from a very reputable manufacturer who stands behind their products with the strongest guarantees in the business).
C.) they are not running a healthy company and neglecting to pay the overhead items listed above which are essential for operating a legal and healthy business(this example is assuming a CA run business)
D.) they are not paying themselves what they should to remain in business.
The company that falls into any of these 4 criteria listed above will not be in business very long. A business based solely on price or cutting corners to reduce the price is simply not sustainable and often times results in a LOSE-LOSE scenario for all parties involved in the transaction.
We hope this synthetic turf installation breakdown helps with your decision-making process.
If you are interested in finding out what your artificial grass project will cost, please contact EcoLawn to get your FREE estimate by clicking on this link or feel free to give us a call at 805-270-2960.
It has been over two years since the idea of EcoLawn was conceived, and it has since grown into a healthy, thriving business. The road to get to where we are today has been full of learning, growing, fun times along with the trying times, and lots of surprises along the way!
It’s always extra special when we we find other young entrepreneurs in the green industry, having a similar experience of building a business here in Santa Barbara. We met a powerful team at Earth Day 2015, Marine Schumann and Jeremy Favier, founders of Brighten Solar. Brighten Solar is a Santa Barbara based solar company that provides solar electric solutions to homeowners and businesses interested in saving money on their electricity bills, take control of their power supply and help protect the environment. Brighten is making strides in bringing solar energy to the Central Coast and we are excited to show our support for their vision and mission!
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—-NOT REQUIRED BUT A PLUS—-
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