Friday, 27 May 2011


The best time to lay turf is mid to late autumn, when the weather conditions are cooler and rain will help to establish the grass.  However, you can lay turf in the winter if you avoid waterlogged areas and do not lay it on frozen ground. Turf can also be laid in late spring but it may require additional watering during establishment.

Preparing an area for lawn
Prepare the area to be grassed by removing all debris and vegetation. You will need to use a herbicide such as glyphosate if perennial weeds are present and this should be applied a month before you lay the turf.

You need to ensure you have 15mm depth of suitable top soil onto which to lay turf. Remove all large stones and roots to this depth and dig over the bed to a medium tilth using a fork, or a rotovator for larger areas. You may wish to bring in screened top soil to achieve sufficient depth for planting, which should be incorporated into the soil when cultivating.  Using a rake even out all bumps and hollows.  Level to a gradient of 1:100 to ensure that the lawn is not completely flat and that rainwater does not pool on the surface.

Level the soil gently to remove air pockets, but you do not want to compact the soil or cause damage to the soil structure. Choose a dry day to level the soil by treading across the bed in small over lapping steps or rolling.  Do not do this when the soil is wet as this will damage the soil structure. Level the surface to a fine tilth with a rake afterwards, removing any stones and debris that appears on the surface.  Repeat treading and raking several times until a firm and level surface is achieved.

Incorporate a general fertiliser such as Growmore into the soil a week prior to laying turf.

Laying turf
Collect your turf a day or so prior to planting. When the turves arrive lay them out flat and water well. The lack of water and light to the turves when they are rolled up will kill the grass in a matter of weeks.

Lay the first row of turf along the edge of the lawn, ensuring they are level and even. Fill any hollows under the turves as this will mean that the roots will not establish in this area and the grass will die. Using a tamper, firm the turves into place.

Lay the second row of turves so that the joints are staggered and repeat as above.  Do not tread on the newly laid lawn when laying the next row, use wooden boards to even out the weight if necessary. Avoid placing smaller, cut pieces of turf at the edge of the lawn so lay a full sized turf at the edge and place the smaller piece second in the row.

When all the turves are laid you will need brush a top dressing into the lawn to fill any gaps between the joints and knit the lawn together.  This top dressing mixture consists of four parts coarse sand, two parts loam and one part peat.

Trim the edges of the turfs with a sharp knife, spade or ending iron to the shape you require. Water the lawn thoroughly, and then as necessary to ensure establishment of the lawn. When established ensure you cut the grass with a lawn mower on a high setting, and gradually lower the blade over the season.  This will ensure that the newly laid lawn is not placed under stress which may result in the grass browning off and the turves shrinking.

For related articles click onto:
Feeding plants
Grass maintenance - laying turf
Grass maintenance - sowing a lawn from seed
History of the lawn

How to build a cold frame
How to make compost

How to grow a lawn from seed
Paths - Brick paving
Preparing a seed bed
Tree size

Lawn care
Laying concrete
Using pedestrian mowers

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