How to Build a Backyard Putting Green

So your golf game isn’t up to par, and you need to practice, practice, practice! But who has time to go to the driving range to practice their chipping? Hit the green any time you want without ever getting in your car by putting a putting green in your backyard. Adding your own putting green to your landscape will make you everyone’s best friend and do wonders for your short game!

Considerations for a Backyard Golf Green

Before you go digging up your lawn:

  • Choose a moderately flat location
  • Decide on real grass or artificial turf
  • Decide whether to DIY or hire an installer
  • Consider drainage
  • Consider maintenance

Location

Where you build your outdoor putting green will determine whether it’s a hit or a failure! Some of the things to consider are how much sun hits the area (when using real grass), slope, and airflow. Choose an area that gets full sun when using real grass. This is best for growth and performance. Stay away from spots near fences and tall trees, as these will block the sun. Shade can cause the soil to hold in too much moisture. The right amount of sun also helps prevent mold and diseases that can destroy the green turf. 

Speaking of moisture, too much of a slope can drown your green. Low, deep areas of your lawn gather water, something that’s a definite no-no for a putting green. On the other hand, a completely flat area is boring, so you may want to keep or add some small bumps. No matter where you decide to build, install drains to the green dry. These drains should be no more than 10 feet apart and allow water to drain off in all directions

Airflow (wind) is the third component when deciding the location. The right airflow helps the grass grow and stay dry. Don’t place the golf green in a spot where fences, shrubs, and trees block the wind. But, if you live in a very windy area, you may need to find a happy medium, so your ball isn’t constantly blowing around. 

Real Grass or Artifical Turf?

Natural grass and synthetic putting greens each have their pros and cons. Most backyard putting greens made with real turf use creeping bentgrass. It’s less expensive to install than artificial turf and gives the look of a real golf course. The surface of creeping bentgrass provides a smooth, even surface for fast putts. Keep it trimmed to a quarter-inch or less. That means a lot of mowing, not to mention fertilizer, weeding, and watering! Installing real grass is initially cheaper than installing synthetic turf, but long-term maintenance is more costly. 

If you want a low maintenance putting surface, artificial turf is the way to go. Synthetic grass is more expensive to install but requires little upkeep. While you do need to keep leaves and sticks off the area, you don’t need to worry about mowing, fertilizing, or weeding. Some golfers think artificial putting greens don’t look like an actual golf course. It’s also more difficult to move the cups around on synthetic turf than real grass. Keep in mind, synthetic grass has come a long way. If you install high-quality turf, few people will know the difference.

DIY or Installer?

Some golfers are extremely handy and are capable of building a PGA style backyard green in a day or two. If you find it too time-consuming to do it yourself, it may be easier to hire someone to install the surface. There are quite a few steps involved, but you may enjoy the process and feel a sense of accomplishment when you’re done. Be aware there’s more to it than just digging up the backyard and laying down turf and cups. 

Steps to Installing a Putting Green

  • Mark out the location, size, and shape.
  • Remove old sod.
  • Compact the ground with a plate compactor.
  • Lay down weed barrier.
  • Add edging.
  • Lay down a base like crushed stone, and smooth it out.
  • Compact the base.
  • Add infill and turf.

The digging, hauling and cutting require a lot of effort. Of course, the size and style of your green will have an impact on price no matter who installs it. 

Maintenance

Real grass and artificial turf both require maintenance but grass requires more. To keep it at a half-inch or less, you’ll be mowing every other day. The green needs frequent watering. You’ll also put down fertilizer and fungicide. Keeping pests from destroying your hard work is also high on the list. Clark Throssell of Purdue University’s Extension Office says, “Several insects and diseases are potential pests of creeping bentgrass greens. The first step in pest control is to produce a dense, actively growing stand of grass.” If that doesn’t work, you may need an insecticide.

A backyard putting green is an investment in your home’s charm as well as in your own leisure time. So what you put into it is a predictor of what you’ll get back.

Main image credit: Lotus Head, CC by-SA 3.0

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Written by Kelly Holland

About Wikilawn

Wikilawn’s mission is to provide the best resources and information to help you enjoy your outdoor spaces the way you want. Whether you are a DIY, lawn-loving, gardening guru, or someone who wants help in picking a local lawn care professional, we can smooth your path to a beautiful backyard!

About Wikilawn

Wikilawn’s mission is to provide the best resources and information to help you enjoy your outdoor spaces the way you want. Whether you are a DIY, lawn-loving, gardening guru, or someone who wants help in picking a local lawn care professional, we can smooth your path to a beautiful backyard!

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