How to lay turf
Creating your own lawn from scratch is easy. By choosing excellent quality turf and undertaking the right preparations, you'll be enjoying a beautiful green lawn in no time.
Tools needed to lay turf
- Turf (top tips on calculating quantities below)
- Garden hose
- Topsoil – optional
When turf can be laid
Turf can be laid all year round. Frosty conditions should be avoided and laying turf in extended periods of hot and dry weather will require additional care and attention. It’s usually best to avoid the height of summer when laying new turf if you live in areas often hit by a hosepipe ban. New turf needs frequent watering – not easy if you can’t use your garden tap!
Calculating how much turf you need to order isn’t as tricky as you might think:
- Draw a sketch of the area you want to lay turf on to.
- Draw rectangles over your sketch (they should not overlap). Do this even if your lawn is a circular or oval shape.
- Whilst standing in the area due to be turfed, mark out the corners of your rectangles on the ground. In the case of an irregular shaped lawn, adapt the rectangles as closely as possible to the shape of the lawn.
- Measure and record on your sketch, the lengths and widths of all your rectangles.
- Calculate the area of each rectangle: length (metres) X width (metres) = area (sq. metres).
- Add together the areas of all rectangles. This is approximately the amount of turf you will need.
- Add 5% extra for shaping, cutting and waste.
Preparing your garden for laying turf
New turf will grow best when your soil is prepared in such a way which encourages deep, rapid rooting. Buying excellent quality turf is not enough on its own to ensure a beautiful lawn – you must prepare your soil too. Poor soil and poor soil preparation will cause the turf to decline and may even result in the death of the turf. Mixing in a pre-turfing fertiliser and adding water to your soil prior to laying the turf will ensure successful establishment.
If you want to give your turf an added boost, Lawn Topsoil provides the ideal base on which to lay turf. It is blended with fertiliser to help ensure a lawn gets the best possible start.
If you’re not using top soil, your soil should be turned over or cultivated to at least 10cm deep, but ideally 15cm. It is best to do this when the soil is fairly dry. Rake over to obtain a fine tilth (soil that is well prepared). This will ensure good contact with the turf when it is laid. ‘Heel’ in well and repeat 2 or 3 times.
Apply a base starter fertiliser to the soil by following the manufacturer’s instructions. As a general guide, look for a fertiliser containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, for example, a 7:7:7 formulated fertiliser. Rake or till the fertiliser into the top 25mm of the soil.
Rake the soil smooth and remove all stones and other debris (greater than 6mm) and any perennial weeds.
Two days before the turf arrives, water the soil to a depth of 75mm to ensure the soil is moist.
Laying your turf
Turf comes in neat, consistent rolls and is ready to lay. It is important that you do not delay in unrolling your new turf. Turf should be rolled out as soon as possible but certainly within 24 hours in the autumn/winter and 12 hours in the spring/summer.
Start laying the turfs, preferably along a straight edge, butting closely end to end. Always unroll turf across a slope, not down it.
Each row of turf should be offset by 30cm, similar to how bricks are laid. Prior to rolling out the turf, lightly water the soil. Always place planks on newly laid turf for walking along and working from.
Knitting the turf together
- Staying along a straight side in a row, join the ends tightly together.
- Don’t stretch the turf! Push the turf into a joint. Avoid gaps, but if they do occur fill them in with a light soil/sand mixture and gently tap down.
- Ensure complete contact between the soil and the underside of the turf. If needed, use a flat board or head of a rake to lightly firm down the turf. Avoid using a roller on freshly laid turf.
- Trim the ends of the turf with a long knife or hand saw to fit around trees, paths and so on.
- If the outer edges of the new turf are exposed, pile a bit of soil on them to prevent drying from the sun.
Caring for your new lawn
The most important time for establishing your new turf is the first 3-4 weeks after laying, but there are a few simple steps that will ensure your turf gets the best possible start:
- Immediately after laying, start watering. Ensure that the new lawn is never short of water. Check under corners of the turf to confirm that water has thoroughly percolated through to the underlying soil.
- Water repeatedly for at least two weeks and certainly until the turf is well established. Once established, weekly watering during dry periods should be adequate.
- Walk on and press down those edges in the turf that are not well seated.
- Mow the lawn as soon as it grows long enough.