How to Install a DIY Putting Green in Your Yard for the Ultimate Short Game

Deane Biermeier
Written by Deane Biermeier
Updated November 14, 2022
A father teaching his son golf in their backyard
Photo: Charday Penn / E+ / Getty Images

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If you’re an avid golfer looking to improve your game from the comfort of your home, installing a backyard putting green is a hole-in-one. While you can hire a professional landscaper to handle this project for you, it’s not always necessary. You can build a DIY putting green on your own in just a few days. Get ready to slash your score as you learn how to build a backyard putting green for yourself. 

Why Install a Putting Green in Your yard?

Installing a putting green in your yard is labor intensive. However, it’s not as difficult as it may seem. Okay, having one may not get you a green jacket before next season, but you could shave a few strokes off of your game. Perhaps just as importantly, it’s super fun and makes a great addition to any other backyard design ideas you may be considering. 

Furthermore, choosing to install an artificial turf putting green in your yard means less mowing and watering and more playing. And if you decide to sell your home down the road, it could be an appealing and unique feature to prospective buyers.

How Much Does It Cost to Install a Putting Green  

Putting green installation costs range from $15 to $40 per square foot. The per-foot cost drops as the size of the green increases. For a 200-square-foot artificial turf installation, expect an average price of around $4,300 for professional installation. But if you build your own putting green, you can save a lot of money. Some DIY kits start as low as $400 for a 100-square-foot area.

How to Prepare for Installing a Putting Green  

Before lining up your birdie putt, there are some decisions to make, such as where to put your putting green and whether you’d like a type of natural grass or an artificial turf. 

Choose Artificial or Real Grass

The material you choose as your putting surface carries with it some important factors to consider before installing your playing area. 

Real grass is the more authentic choice for the game of golf. However, it requires diligent maintenance, including mowing it every couple of days with a compatible reel mower, repairing the occasional bald spot, and keeping it watered and fertilized sufficiently. You’ll also need to ensure that you choose the right type of grass. Choose from creeping bentgrass, Bermudagrass, or Poa annua for the best results. Remember that you’ll need to check for the best part of the year to plant the grass you choose to time your installation just right. 

Artificial turf is the most popular DIY putting green surface material. Numerous companies sell products specifically for this purpose. Although they cost somewhat more than an actual grass installation, there is little maintenance other than cleaning it by blowing off leaves. 

Choose a Putting Green Location

Where you place your putting green is entirely up to you. To make things easy on yourself, choose a clear location that’s as flat as possible to avoid extra digging and landscaping. You’ll need to excavate with a shovel, so creating a flat spot out of a slope is extra challenging. Consider placing the playing surface within convenient reach of your outdoor living space

How to Install a Putting Green in Your Yard

A four hole putting green in a house’s backyard
Photo: Tom / Adobe Stock

Regardless of what type of green you choose or where you install it, the steps are straightforward and relatively simple.

Lay Out Your Putting Green

To get a visualization of what your green will look like and where you should put it, lay it out with temporary markers first. 

  1. For an authentic appearance, lay a garden hose around the future putting green space, and adjust the contours until it forms a pleasing shape. 

  2. Mark the contour line with spray paint or stakes and string before removing the hose. 

  3. Use a flag or a stake to mark the location of the cup holes and any other obstacles, such as sand or water, that you want. 

  4. Once you have a plan and a location, remember to call 811 to have the utility companies locate any underground equipment before digging in your yard. 

Remove Sod

Removing existing grass is arguably the most challenging part of the project. Rent a sod cutter machine from your local rental or home center to remove the grass in the playing area. Alternatively, use a shovel, wheelbarrow, and elbow grease to get the dug-out sod out of your way. Replace the flags or markers for your cups and features. 

Excavate Soil 

How much soil you need to excavate depends on your water drainage situation. 

  1. If you're installing your putting green in an area with particularly hard soil, such as clay, remove the top 12 inches of earth. Also, create an irrigation pipe channel that runs downhill from the green to a low spot away from the area. 

  2. For softer soil yards, excavate the top four or five inches of dirt.  

Install Drainage

Although this step is optional, in a place where the soil is hard or doesn’t drain water well, we recommend taking the time to do it to keep your putting green problem-free. Skip this step if you have softer or sandy soil, as it likely drains well already. 

  1. Lay out perforated landscape drainage piping around the perimeter and in lines every few feet throughout the excavation.

  2. Continue the drain lines by connecting them to direct water into another irrigation pipe that runs through the irrigation channel to a low spot.

  3. Cover the irrigation pipes with several inches of pea gravel or similar rocky material that allows water to pass through.  

Install Base Material

Regardless of your soil type, a solid base is crucial for the project’s success. 

  1. Lay down a layer of landscape fabric on the soil or the pea gravel if applicable. 

  2. Fill your excavation hole with crushed limestone gravel or a similar compactable stone. For artificial turf greens, fill it full. Leave a couple of inches of depth if you’re installing natural grass. 

  3. Compact the gravel with a rental compactor from your rental or home center by making several passes until the surface is smooth. With a long bubble level, ensure that there’s no slope towards the center of the green. 

  4. Use more crushed stone material to create any surface contours you like and compact those areas again. 

  5. Dig your holes out of the gravel with a shovel and ensure that areas around the holes remain flat and solid.

Install Turf

This step defines the difference between a natural grass and artificial turf playing surface.

  1. If you’re planting grass or sod, top off your excavation hole with the proper growing medium soil for your chosen grass type. Typically it will be a mixture of sand and soil. 

  2. Plant your grass. It can take up to eight weeks before it’s ready for use. 

  3. For artificial grass greens, follow the preparation instructions, such as wetting the mat to shrink it to size. Roll out your turf over the gravel and use a sharp utility knife to cut around the edges and the cup holes. 

  4. If seaming is necessary between pieces, follow the manufacturer’s directions for your product.

  5. Secure the edges of your artificial turf with landscape staples or edging stakes. 

Finish the Edges

There are just a few more things to do before your first backyard tournament. 

  1. Install an edge around your putting green. Use landscape blocks or sections of longer artificial grass to secure around the edges. 

Add other features, such as a mini-bunker or a tranquil water feature.

Taking Care of Your Putting Green  

Taking care of an artificial turf putting green is almost a gimme putt. Remove leaves and twigs with a leaf blower when the time comes. You may have to remove an occasional stain. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations to do so.

If you choose a natural grass putting green, you’ll want to purchase a reel mower capable of cutting the grass to under 1/4-inch long and maintaining that length by mowing every two or three days, depending on the weather. Water your green as necessary, which will be quite often, and maintain a fertilizer schedule to keep it looking its best.  

DIY Putting Green Installation vs. Hire a Pro

Although it likely comes in second to a hole-in-one, having a backyard putting green is a golfer’s dream come true. However, performing the installation requires a good deal of manual labor, even for a small green, and you’ll still need to log some time at the driving range for the rest of your game. But if you’d rather be on the course instead of digging in your yard, a local putting green installer or landscaper near you can perform the job from tee to cup. 

Frequently Asked Questions

In the right market, a putting green in the backyard can add value to your property. You can reap an estimated 40 percent return on the investment.  Other than that, the value of a place to practice and play at home depends solely on your love of the game and desire to improve.

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