How Well Does Artificial Grass Drain? Garden Tips 2024

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Artificial grass has been around for a very long time. It’s been known as Astro Turf and Field Turf, and more generally as turf grass. Artificial turf is relatively easy to install and it doesn’t need irrigation, although sometimes it may need to be watered to control excessive heat. 

Suppliers brag about how well artificial grass drains. But it won’t drain well unless it is installed correctly with a good, deep drainage system. It also needs to be maintained over time. Of course, you’ll never have to mow artificial turf, but synthetic grass tends to flatten from heavy foot traffic. This can have a detrimental effect on drainage. 

How does water drain from artificial grass?

Typically, artificial grass turf has a backing that is perforated with small holes to allow for drainage. These allow the water to go through the backing and drain through the base to the water table. 

Additionally, most artificial grass drainage installations are built on a base of crushed stone or other porous materials that allow water to drain well. But, just how well it drains will depend on the design of the artificial turf drainage system. 

When it rains or you hose down the surface of artificial grass, it will trickle through the perforated backing into the base material beneath. From there, the water will either be absorbed into the ground or it may be directed to a drainage system, which is a much more expensive option that is seldom necessary.

It is important to realize that the drainage capability of any artificial turf brand can vary depending on the quality and installation method used. It is always a good idea to consult with a professional installer to ensure proper drainage and avoid any potential drainage issues.

A potential artificial grass drainage issue is uneven surfaces. Unless the surface is flattened before the artificial grass product is installed, you will end up with puddles when it rains. 

If your property has clay soil, this may make drainage more difficult. A reasonably simple solution may be to replace the clay soil with a thicker crushed stone sub-base.  

Incorrect or heavily compacted infill used for the drainage sub-base can also cause turf drainage problems. The most common of these is that the backing and/or the drainage holes (if the backing is perforated), may become clogged. 

Is drainage needed for artificial grass?

The million-dollar answer to the question does artificial grass need drainage is a resounding yes. Perhaps ironically, while we don’t usually bother too much with natural grass drainage, it also needs drainage to prevent muddy, unpleasant conditions. 

When it comes to artificial turf, drainage is essential to prevent water puddling, flooding, and unnecessary damage. It will also prevent issues like mold, mildew, and nasty odors. 

How well artificial turf drains depends on the drainage system you install. This is why it’s important to note that the specific drainage requirements for any artificial grass installation can vary depending on many factors. These include local climate, soil conditions, and the usually predictable intensity of rainfall.

How do you make drainage for artificial grass?

Most good quality artificial grass is supplied with its own effective drainage solution. Commonly, the backing is hole-punched to allow the water to drain through them at equal distances. 

Another type is totally permeable and is said to drain up to five times quicker than natural grass. It is often used for pet lawns that need maximum drainage as well as areas where there is high rainfall.  

The process we use to install a drainage system that will determine how well synthetic turf drains usually involves a few key steps. However, if the specific instructions that come with your product are different, please consult a professional installer. 

A major manufacturer of synthetic grass has published an essential guide to help DIY enthusiasts install artificial grass. Alternatively, you can hire a professional installer to do the job for you. 

Typical processes for installing the drainage artificial grass requires

Before you lay artificial grass excavate the ground to a depth of at least 3-4 inches. The excavation needs to accommodate a sub-base of crushed stone, gravel, or other porous materials that will allow water to drain through it easily.

Materials recommended by professionals vary. For instance, a company in San Diego, where there is a lot of clay, recommends three inches of Class II road base for all installations to prevent any potential problems artificial grass may have. 

An installation company in Arizona, where most soil is also a type of clay, recommends replacing the clay with crushed granite or stone. They claim their system allows artificial turf to drain at an incredible rate of up to 1,200 inches per hour. 

The essential guide mentioned above suggests installing a three-inch base layer of crushed rock, decomposed granite, gravel, or any stones that are less than ⅜ inch in size. Top this with about half an inch of sand so the surface is smooth. 

Rubber granules are another option for infill. If you wish, you can add a weed cloth (or black plastic) barrier over the base before laying the artificial grass on top. 

Edges need to butt up against one another and you will need to use a self-adhesive jointing tape to keep them together. Once you have laid your artificial turf, the guide recommends spreading silica sand over the top of the synthetic grass, and brushing against the pile fiber to make the tufts stand upright. 

Other ways to drain your artificial grass

There are several other ways to drain artificial grass. 

For instance, you can use perforated pipes to create a drainage system that directs water away from the area. These pipes can be connected to a drainage system or directed to a dry well.

Sometimes people slope the sub-base away from the area to be covered by artificial grass. This can help to direct water away from the installation and water from accumulating in puddles when it rains.

In very wet areas, it may be necessary to add drains or channels around the perimeter of the installation to divert excess water.


Ultimately, it’s important to be aware that the specific drainage requirements for an artificial grass installation can vary depending on factors such as local climate, soil conditions, and the intensity of rainfall. Also, you will have to maintain your synthetic grass to ensure that it continues to drain adequately.

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