Backyard Putting Green - DIY or Not

About a year after we moved to our new house, we decided to make a few updates to the backyard - have a new playground area, and turn the existing playground area into a putting green. The existing playground area was just in front of the dining room sliding door and the playhouse and toys were really blocking the view. So we decided to move it to a new place and turn the area into a putting green. It was about a 25' x 15' area.
Well, we were looking for something that is easy to maintain, doesn't spread around like mulch or gravel and we decided on artificial grass, we had enough concrete already. However, artificial grass would look strange next to the natural grass, so we went a step further and decided on the putting green.

You can read about the playground in my previous post. It required a lot of digging and leveling. For this project, I did not anticipate a lot of digging as the area was pretty even, there were a couple of holes but looked pretty easy. This is what we end up with after we moved the playhouse and all the toys (the dark mulch area).

The first step was to move the mulch. It was quite a lot, so I decided to reuse it instead of throwing it away. I used it to cover the dirt around the new playground area and along the fence. It was easy but really dusty, especially when i removed the old landscape fabric. Fortunately, we got some unexpected rain which washed the area and all the dust away.

I leveled the ground as much as possible and filled in the holes using dirt from other areas. That was pretty easy and I was really excited. I decided to use a wood border (the same that was used to hold the mulch) to end the putting green. I already had it and didn't want to bother to build a new border. That was a bad idea, as you will see later.

The next step was further leveling the area. I've done artificial grass before and I knew I needed paver's base and leveling sand. I just didn't know how many I would need. And boy, I needed many. Again, I cheated a little bit and didn't dig a lot or as much as recommended for a base as it worked with my previous project.

One thing that I was not able to find an answer for is the landscape fabric placement. Everyone agrees that it is optional but half of the sites say place it under the paver base, the other half - under the artificial turf. I decided to place it over the leveling sand. I reasoned that when tamping the base it would be better if there was no fabric between it and the dirt. I hope I made the right decision. We'll see. You may further research the issue yourself.

Homedepot became my best friend. I had a small car and I was able to transport up to 8 bags of paver base without breaking my suspensions. I ended up using 45 bags. That was a lot of trips to the store. At the times of covid-19, I ended up waiting 20-25 minutes in line almost every time just to get in the store.

I also build a small patio area 4'x3' next to the sliding door where an old a broken water feature used to be. I used 12 1'x1' stepping stones and two bags of leveling sand.

The next step was the leveling sand. I calculated that I'll need half the amount, so around 20 bags, which was just a few trips to the store. I ended up using around 40 bags as well.

The other problem was that we got a 100+ degree weather after the surprise rain. It really limited the time I can be outside working. I ended up with farmer's tan and losing weight (I can't complain about the latter).

After I was pretty much done with the leveling, I decided I hated the wood border. I envision a paving path leading to the side of the house surrounded by the putting green and a retaining wall next to the neighbor's fence, which as you can see from the pictures above is about a foot higher then our yard. So, I had to replace the border now.

I bought 20 concrete blocks and replaced the wood border. I had to level the area around the border again but better do it now than later, when I build the path and retaining wall.
It took me quite a lot of time to place the blocks the way I wanted. I wished I have started with this first, so plan, plan, plan. Also, these block were very breakable, especially around the corners. I was so tired, so I just let them as they are.
And what is a putting green without holes. I used this design for the putting green ( - a 12'x15' area with 3 holes. I purchased the holes from Usually, they are installed before all the leveling takes place but I didn't know where my putting grass level would be and how deep to dig. So, I did it after I leveled the area. Actually, it was not that hard to install them after the area was leveled.
Then I put the landscape fabric. Again, not sure if it should be placed under the paver base or under the turf. Let's see what will happen and if I'll have any problems with drainage or weeds.
Another problem I had was with the grass itself. I foolishly assumed that Home Depot or Lowe's will have a putting green grass in stock since they advertised it at their entrance. When I checked, it turned out I could order it only online and it would take a couple of weeks to be delivered. I checked local stores, most of them had their showrooms closed due to covid-19 and I could order only online with the same delivery date. I was lucky to find a store with an open showroom and find the grass I wanted. They even had it as a 15' rolls which was better that what the local hardware stores offered. They delivered the grass in a couple of days. I could see the end of this project.
I unrolled the grass and used chalk to draw the shape of the green. I cut it and start installing the grass around. I have purchased pet turf. I wanted a higher grass but my husband opposed. The problem with the short grass is that every seam that is not done correctly is so visible.
I made a few mistakes. I put a few pieces in the incorrect grass direction and there was a color difference when the sun hit the spot. You can see the difference in the area close to the fence, near the middle of this picture, there's an abrupt transition from light green to dark green. This really bugged me and I had to correct it.
As I result I was out of grass and I was not able to complete the putting green for my daughter's birthday. I had to go and buy an additional 15'x2' roll. I was also constantly out of fabric staples. I probably used 250 staples or more.

Finally, I covered the whole area. There were a few places where the seams were really visible and I had to correct that as well.

I used 7 bags of sand#30 on the grass, which helped with the seams. I really wished I'd used a taller grass so my mistakes would be less visible.
I spent a lot of time correcting my mistakes but at the end there were almost no visible seams except for two, which I decided to fix some time in the future.
This is the result

This is the view from the dining room: