Laying turf is something that can be done all year round although its best to avoid laying turf in frosty conditions Laying turf in long periods of hot or dry weather may also cause problems. Laying turf on a hot dry surface which stays that way for weeks after is bound to result additional attention and after care being required. Very few tools are required for laying turf. You will be well equipped for laying turf with just the basics that most gardeners already have.
- A garden hose and sprinkler
- Some planks
- A knife
- A spade
- A long knife
- A rake
Laying turf works best when the soil is prepared in advance to encourage the roots to penetrate deep. After that, laying turf requires only four further ingredients;- nutrients, water, aeration and sunlight to produce a successful grassy surface. Three of these come from the soil so when laying turf their long-term availability is within your control from the outset. So when laying turf you must prepare the soil to ensure that nutrients, water and air will be available to the grass plants for the extended life span of the lawn after you’ve long finished laying turf. When you start laying turf you need to prepare the soil so that it has the right structure to allow the roots to penetrate deeply and evenly after you’ve finished laying. Turf which gets off to a good start will be better able to withstand drought and be more efficient at using what water is available in bad times. Laying turf in poorly prepared soil or in the wrong conditions will hamper its chances of success for life. Laying turf in properly prepares soil and in the right conditions will also make the lawn denser and help it to crowd out weeds. Laying turf in poor soil can even cause good turf to deteriorate over time.
Calculations and Preparation
As a rule of thumb when laying turf you need to measure the area in square metres and add 5% for shaping. Typically turf comes in rolls of one square metre but it can vary. Calculating the amount of topsoil required for laying turf is a little more involved because it required a volume calculation and the amount required can vary from grass to grass. It’s best to ask the supplier for advice as to the amount required for laying turf supplied by them. You might need to remove an existing lawn or some other plant cover before laying turf. If so you may need to leave at least two weeks before commencing laying turf, so it may be advisable to complete the process before taking delivery. Buy a suitable selective weed killer for whatever need to be removed and treat the lawn or plant cover with the solution. Leave it for around two weeks and remove the old lawn with a lawn cutter which you can hire from a hire shop. The old surface can be disposed of in a green waste skip, composted, or taken to the local recycling centre which should have a facility for recycling turf and soil.
Whatever advice on soil volume is given by the supplier. Laying turf will be more successful the deeper the soil is. So any advice received should be taken as the minimum required for laying turf on. If you are able to provide for it, any extra depth, even an inch, will make laying turf more successful. In any event you need at least 4 inches for laying turf and ideally at least 6 inches. Before laying you need to ensure that the soil is loose, free from perennial weeds, clods, stones and any other debris. If necessary you may need to buy a friable free flowing topsoil to use in conjunction with the turf. Some mixtures are specially formulated for laying turf. Depending on the quality of your existing soil you can either place the bought in soil on the top or dig it in. Apart from providing an adequate growing medium good top soil will provide the right firm foundation and level surface required for laying turf on. If instead of laying turf you intend to apply lawn seed the right top spoil is even more vital. Before laying turf it’s also a good idea to apply a Lawn Establishment Fertiliser to the topsoil to ensure that the turf gets the best start possible. If the soil is in reasonable condition to start off with you may not need any new topsoil but the soil may still benefit from a ‘lawn improver’ so as to add nutrients before laying turf. Laying turf on improved soil gives it a better chance. The soil improver helps with water retention and drainage and improves the soil structure making it more suitable for laying turf.
Before laying turf it’s essential to rotovate or dig over the surface. Once the soil has been loosened it should be lightly compacted again. The easiest way to achieve this effect is to walk all over the soil and then again at a right angle. Then before laying turf rake the surface over to level the surface. This part of the process can be time consuming but is well worth it. Laying turf on an uneven surface will result in an uneven lawn. Rolled up lawn is already dying owing to being deprived of light so turf needs to be rolled out immediately upon arrival.. Ideally the soil should be prepared and watered a day or two before laying turf. So it’s best to complete the preparation process before the turf is delivered for laying. Turf laying is a big enough job as it is and it’s much easier all round to have the surface ready for laying turf immediately it arrives. But the soil still needs to be raked over again immediately before laying turf
Start laying turf along a straight edge, laying turf sections close to each other, end to end. Lay the turves in a brick like fashion alternating them from row to row. After laying turf sections can be walked on, on planks of wood to assist with laying the next row. The turves should be firmed down with head of a rake to ensure good contact with the soil, but should never be rolled with a heavy roller. Don’t stretch the turves into any joints. Cracks should be filled with light soil. At this stage in the lawn’s life watering is critical. After laying turf it immediately requires watering and continues to do so for several days after. If in any doubt the new lawn may need to be watered both in the morning and the evening. Turf laid on a hot day should be laid on heavily watered soil. Unlikely as it may seem mowing is required well within a week of laying turf. Mowing up to (but not more than) one third of the grass’s blade length encourages the lawn to become established. The first cut can be in as little as three or four days of laying turf and should start with cutting off about a quarter of the height of the grass blade. Over time reduce the blade of grass to about 1 inch. The lawn should be mowed in alternative directions. For the first two or three weeks after laying turf avoid walking on the lawn apart from for mowing. In the early days of the lawn the clippings do not have to be removed. Small amounts scattered on the lawn provide nutrients until they reach the point where they block out sunlight