The question of whether you should use a sand infill for artificial grass is one that has been hotly debated in the industry over the past few years.
Historically, artificial grass was developed for use in sports pitches as groundsmen were struggling to maintain their pitches and outfields in the face of the consistently heavy use they received week in, week out.
At that time, a silica sand and/or rubber crumb infill was installed as standard.
It was an obvious transition for artificial grass to go from being used solely for sports pitches to also being installed in residential gardens, as there was thought to be a whole host of benefits that would appeal to homeowners.
The manufacturing processes, and fibre designs and colours, needed to be different for residential use than for a sports pitch, and so fake grass was developed and modified to be used in residential gardens.
In common with sports pitches, however, when artificial grass was first used in residential gardens, installers would apply a silica sand infill as standard.
Artificial grass has become more and more popular, particularly over recent years, and there is now a wide variety of artificial grasses available on the market.
As the artificial grass industry has become more competitive, some manufacturers and installers have been looking for ways to reduce installation costs.
One of these ways is by advising customers not to use a sand infill for artificial grass – or even designing so-called ‘non-infill’ artificial grasses.
There are many conflicting opinions as to whether a sand infill should be used.
But who is correct?
Should you use an artificial grass sand infill or not?
What are the benefits of using a sand infill, and are there any disadvantages?
In this article we are going to reveal the truth about sand infills and answer some of the most commonly asked questions – starting with the key question.
Should You Use a Sand Infill for Artificial Grass?
The short answer is yes.
We certainly recommend that you use a silica sand infill on all types of artificial grass.
Even though some ‘non-infill’ grasses have been developed in recent years, these basically just have a dense lower thatch, and it’s still important to install a sand infill to your artificial lawn.
Why? Put simply, it will prolong the life of your artificial lawn and improve the way it looks and performs.
The only advantage to not using a sand infill for artificial grass is that it makes the installation cheaper.
That’s why you’ll hear some manufacturers or installers advising against using a sand infill – it allows them to offer a cheaper installation price, which might mean they are awarded the job over a competitor.
However, an artificial lawn should be seen as an investment in your property.
Therefore, you should ensure that you get the best value for money, and to do that, it is important not to cut corners.
Cutting corners only results in a poor quality artificial lawn.
The whole idea of artificial grass is for it to provide you and your family with a stunning looking lawn that is mud and mess free, whilst also requiring very little maintenance.
But if you can’t use your lawn due to a poor installation or short lifespan, you won’t get to experience any of those benefits and you’ll have wasted your hard-earned cash.
If your artificial grass has been installed correctly, you can expect it to stay looking like a prize-winning lawn long into the future.
Therefore, to get the best out of your artificial lawn, we highly recommend you use a silica sand infill. Not doing so is a false economy.
We’ve listed 10 of the benefits of using a sand infill for artificial grass below:
10 Reasons You Should Use an Artificial Grass Sand Infill
1. It Holds the Grass in Position
The first reason on our list is that a sand infill will hold your artificial lawn in position.
Believe it or not, once a sand infill has been installed to an artificial lawn, it adds a lot of weight to it.
The sand infill acts like ballast; it weighs down the grass and prevents it from being lifted.
The additional ballast helps the artificial grass to follow the contours of your lawn.
It also means that you can potentially do away with installing an edging system.
So long as you already have a hard edge around your lawn (i.e. a path, concrete, gravel, boards from a fence, or a patio) then no additional edging will be required as the sand infill will hold your lawn in position.
A hard edge around the perimeter of your lawn is essential to prevent your artificial grass from sinking, as the sub-base and laying course must be retained to prevent them from subsiding.
For further information on how to install artificial grass, please visit this page.
2. It Prevents Rippling
Artificial grass can expand when subjected to sunshine during the summer months and also contract during cooler periods.
This slight movement can potentially result in ripples or ridges appearing in your artificial lawn.
As we have already learnt, a sand infill will add ballast to your lawn that will pin it down to the surface below.
This additional weight will also prevent your artificial lawn from rippling as it expands and contracts, and will ensure that your grass lies flat on the ground without ridges appearing in your lawn.
3. It Protects the Artificial Fibres
Sand infill can help add stability to the fibres, which helps them to stand more upright.
This gives your lawn a far more natural, three-dimensional look.
In monofilament products, it is essential to add a sand infill to enable the fibres to remain vertical.
But even with textured grass that has a thick lower thatch, such as the Aberdeen, we still recommend using a sand infill for the extra fibre protection it affords.
4. It Increases Fire Resistance
It’s very important in the interests of fire safety that your artificial lawn is fire resistant.
One of the things you should be looking for when choosing an artificial grass is that it has been tested and certified as being fire resistant.
Unfortunately fires do happen in the home and garden and, should the worst happen, you’ll want the peace of mind that a fire cannot spread to your artificial lawn.
As a side note, we strongly advise against using BBQs near artificial grass as the potential for an accident to occur and damage your grass is reasonably high.
You should always ask your chosen artificial grass manufacturer for their fire resistance certification.
Any type of flooring product manufactured within the EU, including artificial grass, can be assessed to meet Cfl-s1 in fire-retardant tests for fire-resistant flooring according to UNE EN 13501-12007.
Ensuring that your chosen artificial grass meets that criteria is highly recommended, as it will give you peace of mind should the worst happen.
However, adding a sand infill will also help to increase the fire resistance of your artificial lawn
5. It Improves Drainage
Another reason to install a silica sand infill is for drainage.
If you look at the backing of artificial grass you will notice drainage holes that will allow rainfall to drain away through your fake lawn.
During periods of torrential rainfall the presence of silica sand will act as a filter, regulating the flow of water through your lawn.
This slower speed will make it easier for the sub grade to cope with heavy amounts of rainfall without causing flooding.
6. It Will Keep Your Lawn Cooler
During hot summer days, a potential problem with some forms of artificial grass is that it can become hot to touch.
This is especially true of lower quality artificial grass.
Clearly this is not ideal, especially as hot summer days are when you’ll be spending the most time outside, enjoying your artificial lawn.
There are two solutions to this problem.
Firstly, we recommend choosing an artificial lawn with Feelgood technology.
Our unique Feelgood technology works by dissipating heat rather than absorbing it. You can see this in the picture below, taken using an infrared camera.
Feelgood technology will ensure that your lawn remains cool, up to 12 degrees cooler than artificial grasses that don’t have this technology.
This will ensure that your lawn remains comfortable underfoot.
But what if you have chosen a grass without the latest advances in artificial grass technology?
Again, this is where silica sand comes into play.
It has a similar effect to Feelgood technology – it works by reflecting sunlight, which in turn reduces heat absorption, helping to keep your lawn cooler.
Another great reason to install an infill for artificial grass.
7. It Increases Security
As we have already learnt, a sand infill adds weight to an artificial lawn.
The added weight makes it extremely difficult to lift artificial grass from its position.
This has the added benefit of preventing artificial grass theft, which is particularly important in front garden installations and commercial applications, such as public playgrounds and schools.
The only way for thieves to lift the artificial grass is to cut it into smaller sections, effectively rendering the artificial grass useless.
But silica sand also has the additional benefit of blunting sharp blades extremely quickly, which will make the artificial grass very difficult to cut.
To prevent theft, we highly recommend installing a silica sand infill.
8. It Protects the Backing on Your Artificial Grass
When a sand infill is applied to artificial grass, it should be brushed into the turf with either a stiff broom or a mechanical brush.
This enables the sand to fall to the bottom of the pile.
The sand will then rest on the latex backing, protecting it from damage.
This is a very important benefit if you have a dog or a cat that likes to dig.
Although better quality artificial grasses are highly resistant, sharp claws can potentially slice through latex backing in the same way a sharp blade can.
This will cause damage to your artificial lawn.
However, with a sand infill the latex backing is protected from claws and other sharp objects, such as garden furniture, that may come into contact with your lawn.
9. It Prevents Static
Unfortunately, in the past, some artificial grasses had a problem with the build-up of static electricity.
Clearly that’s not great if you intend on using your artificial grass, rather than just having it for decorative purposes.
The last thing you or your children want is to receive an electric shock from your artificial turf.
Another great reason to install a sand infill is to prevent the build-up of static electricity, so that you can rest assured that your lawn will be safe for you, your family and your pets to use.
10. It Can Help Prevent Weeds
In rare instances, airborne seeds can nestle amongst the fibres of your fake grass, which will potentially lead to weeds appearing on your artificial lawn.
To combat this, there are now weed-free silica sands available on the market that will help prevent the growth of unwanted weeds.
This form of kiln-dried sand has a naturally alkaline mixture of nutrient-poor minerals that keep weeds at bay without the need for chemical weedkillers.
Weed-free kiln-dried sand can be purchased from most of the major DIY stores and is certainly worth considering.
Hopefully you should now realise the benefits of using an artificial grass sand infill.
However, we realise you may still have further unanswered questions, and we’ve tried our best to anticipate and answer them below.
What Type of Sand Should be Used?
Always use a silica sand and not building or sharp sand.
Silica sand, or kiln-dried sand, as it’s also known, is a very fine sand.
This is because it has been dried in an oven to remove all the moisture.
Because it’s very fine, once it’s been applied and brushed in to your artificial lawn, the tiny grains of sand will find their way to the bottom of the pile and rest on the latex backing.
This will ensure that it’s the grass, not the sand, that can be seen and it will provide your lawn with all the great benefits we listed above.
As mentioned earlier, avoid building or sharp sand as these types of sand are far more ‘clumpy’ and will not, therefore, find their way to the bottom of the pile.
Silica sand, unlike building or sharp sand, is a very clean form of sand that will not encourage weed growth.
You can buy silica sand infill that has been designed specifically for use on artificial lawns here.
How Do You Install a Sand Infill?
The first rule to remember is that it’s extremely important that you install the sand infill when your artificial grass is completely dry and free from moisture.
If you don’t, the sand will ‘clump’ together, making it extremely difficult to encourage it to work its way through the fibres, down to the base of the grass.
The quickest method of installing the sand infill is by using a seed or drop spreader.
To use a seed or drop spreader, you simply cut open a bag of kiln-dried sand, pour it into the dispensing bucket, and then push the spreader up and down the length of the garden, whilst the spreader evenly applies a layer of silica sand to your lawn.
Alternatively, this process can be done by inserting a series of small cuts into the bottom of the bag with a sharp knife, to control the flow of sand. You can then work your way down the lawn, evenly pouring the sand across the surface of your lawn.
The next step is to brush the artificial grass.
The brushing process will enable the sand to fall through the fibres and settle at the bottom of the pile.
The brushing can either be carried out with artificial grass rake, a stiff broom or with a mechanical brush such as the Stihl MM 55.
Clearly the mechanical brush is going to be the quickest and easiest method. However, for a one-off DIY installation, an inexpensive artificial grass rake or a stiff broom will do the job just as effectively.
Any excess surface sand can be removed with a leaf blower.
How Much Sand Infill Should You Install on Your Artificial Lawn?
We recommend applying approximately 4kg of sand per square metre of artificial grass.
This will be enough to weigh down your artificial grass and prolong its lifespan.
You can use our handy calculator below to work out how many bags you’ll need for your artificial grass installation.
Will A Sand Infill Stick to My Feet?
This is a rumour created by those installers and manufacturers who would advise not using a sand infill for artificial grass.
They make this claim to reduce installation costs, but to the detriment of the finished result.
If you apply no more than the recommended 4kg of sand per square metre of artificial grass, the sand will not be visible.
You won’t have any problem with sand being walked out of the grass, as it’s covered by the fibres.
The sand will sit below the surface of the thatch, resting on the latex backing.
When you walk on the artificial turf, your feet are in contact with the artificial fibres and not the sand.
Therefore, sand will not stick to your feet or the paws of your pets.
Where Do I Buy Silica Sand for Artificial Grass?
You can buy silica sand infill that has been designed specifically for use on artificial lawns here.
You can also purchase kiln dried sand from most major DIY stores and prices tend to vary from around £3 for basic low grade silica sand to around £10 for weed-free sand. You should always read the specification and only choose a sub-rounded sand. This is because angular sand can cause damage to your lawn as the sharp edges can cut into the synthetic fibres as you walk across your artificial grass.
Angular sand also compacts with foot traffic, impairing drainage. The multiple edges of angular sand grind together and slowly break down over time, meaning that your lawn will require regular topping up.
As explained earlier in the article, don’t use sharp or building sand as it’s not fine enough and will cause weed growth.
Always choose a good quality, clean, sub-rounded silica sand.
Is Artificial Grass Sand Infill Suitable for Dogs?
Yes, it is.
Some people worry that sand will stick to the paws of their pets and then be walked into the house.
As mentioned above, as long as you don’t apply more than 4kg of sand per square metre of artificial grass, and it’s applied evenly, the sand will be resting at the bottom of the pile, out of sight and out of reach.
However, silica sand also has the additional benefit of protecting the artificial grass from digging dogs as it will protect the latex backing, preventing it from being cut by sharp claws.
Artificial grass with a sand infill will also be harder wearing and longer lasting, which makes it perfect for a lawn that’s frequently used by pets.
The debate regarding whether to use a sand infill has been raging on for several years, and shows no sign of ending soon.
However, the practice of applying silica sand to artificial grass has been tried and tested over many years, in many different applications and on many different types of artificial grass.
It’s stood the test of time.
The list of benefits is a long one, with the only disadvantage being that it adds some additional cost to the installation of an artificial lawn.
However, this is only a very small percentage of the overall cost and the advantages heavily outweigh the additional expense.
Cost savings are the only valid reason some manufacturers and installers are recommending that you do not use a sand infill for artificial grass.
It is certainly not because better quality grasses don’t require a sand infill.
This is simply not true.
Artificial grass is an investment in your property and it’s important that it lasts long into the future to ensure good value for money. A sand infill will help to protect this investment.
Hopefully you have found this article useful and it has answered some of the questions you may have had about deciding whether to use a sand infill.
If you have any further questions regarding sand infills for artificial grass, leave us a comment below as we would love to hear from you.
Also, if you have any ideas for future topics that you would like us to cover, please let us know.