Lawns can form important parts of the garden, whether it’s a large space for a family to play or an elegantly shaped green path that guides you around your outdoor space. If you’ve moved into a new home, had building work done at your existing home or are re-thinking your garden, you may be in the situation where you need to be laying turf.

Laying turf is the quickest way to gain a lush, green lawn. Ensuring success with your turf does require some labour-intensive preparation work, along with knowledge of how to work quickly when your turf arrives. In this article we will share their tips on how to lay your turf.

When to Lay Turf

Turf can be lain most of the year round – you just want to avoid laying when frosty. Mid-spring or in the early autumn. Once the hot and dry days of summer are over, are ideal times.

Preparing Your Garden

When laying turf, the ground you are laying it on needs to be moist and turf needs to be laid quickly as it is perishable. This makes it even more important that you have fully prepared the ground ahead of laying. This preparation work can take time, but is worth doing well.

Top tip: It is not recommended to lay turf over existing grass, as the turf will not root well through it.

If you have any existing lawn where you will be laying turf, you will need to remove this. You could do this by hiring a turf cutter to do this. The turf can then be placed in your home compost if you have one, or the garden waste section of your local recycling centre if you don’t. You could also treat using a weedkiller suitable for grass. This may take two weeks to be fully effective.

Once your lawn area is cleared, you will want to make sure it is level. Walk up and down the area to be turfed to identify any dips and bumps – this will be much more revealing than just looking at it!

To level your soil, dig over the whole area thoroughly or rotovate to loosen. Remove stones, weeds and other surface debris. Break up heavily compacted areas with a fork and fill dips. Once done, walk over it to lightly to compact it down a little then rake the surface to a fine consistency.

Top tip: Avoid using any heavy equipment across your soil, such as a roller, as it will compact the soil too much 

Now evaluate your cleared and levelled area of ground. When you lay your turf on it, you want to have a topsoil depth (i.e., the upper layer of soil) of at least 10-15cm. Particularly with new build homes, or where there has been major construction work, the topsoil has often been stripped away. Check the depth you have and purchase more if needed.

Choosing Your Turf

Before ordering your turf, you need to know how much you will need. Determine this by measuring out the area in metres squared to be covered, then add 5% to allow for cutting and shaping, a roll of turf covers approximately 1m²

If, for example, you have an area of 5m x 4m that you need to cover, that is 20² + 5% = 21² meaning you will need 21 rolls of turf.

By selecting a high-quality turf you will be making it easy to handle and lay. The resulting will create a hard-wearing lawn with a beautiful fine-leafed appearance with the added benefits of being easy to maintain and drought tolerant.

Laying Your Turf

With your garden level and topsoil in place, you are ready to lay your turf. As a last measure, water your topsoil thoroughly a couple of days before you get your turf so the soil bring moisture to the roots of the lain turf.

Now, time is of the essence. Once you have your turf, lay it as soon as possible as turf is perishable.

Man laying Turf
Picture credit: Rolawn

If possible, start laying your turf along a straight edge. If you are turfing a circular shape, start in the middle and work your way out. As you lay your turf, it is helpful to have a straight-edged item – e.g. a long plank of wood – as a guide to laying against. Make sure the ends of each section of turf butt closely against each other; push them into place and do not stretch your turf to make it join. It is recommended to use a ‘brickwork’ approach, staggering where the joints are in each row of turf. Firm the turf down so there is good contact between the turf and topsoil below. Trim and shape ends with a long knife or cutting spade.

Once your turf is completely laid, fill any cracks using a light soil. You should also cover any exposed edges of turf with a light soil.

Caring For Your New Turf

The key to helping your new turf establish is to keep it well watered daily. Resist the temptation to mow it until the turf is firmly settled. You can determine if it’s settled by trying to pull up a little piece – if it lifts easily, it needs a little more time. Once your turf has settled, however, mowing is a helpful part of ensuring your turf fully establishes itself.

All that is left for you to do now is to enjoy it!

Lawns also benefit from some year-round maintenance. Find out more in our guide to year-round lawn care.

Your Turf Laying Toolkit

For preparing the ground

  • Turf cutter / specialist grass weedkiller (if you have existing areas of lawn to remove)
  • Digging spade (or rotoavator, readily available from hire shops)
  • Wheelbarrow for removing debris
  • Topsoil
  • Hose for thorough watering before laying turf

For laying turf

  • Good quality rolls of turf
  • Straight edged item to guide laying – e.g. long plank of wood
  • Long knife / cutting tool for cutting and shaping edges
  • Light soil
  • Hose for consistent watering after laying turf
New lawn

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