How to Lay Turf

Materials

To prepare the site for laying turf, you should first remove all weeds, rocks and stones from the area to be turfed. If you are replacing an old, weedy lawn, you don't have to remove the turf. Simply apply a good lawn feed with weed killer combined and wait a few weeks for the weeds to die. Then you can simply lay over the top and the grass from the original lawn should grow through your new turf minus the weeds.

Whether you are turfing on a new site or over an old lawn, the quickest way to get a well-prepared site is to order topsoil or sand to spread over the top. This means you can have a nice smooth surface to turf onto without having to disturb the soil too much underneath.

If the site is not too well drained, choose sand beneath your turf. If the site is okay for drainage, use good quality, topsoil from a turf supplier since this topsoil will usually have been put through a riddle to remove the stones and bigger clumps making it easier for you to work.

When you order your topsoil or sand, you should allow for around 1 tonne of topsoil or sand for every 15 square metres of ground. Order your turf from a reputable turf supplier. You will usually be offered a choice of grades, from budget through to gold standard. For most lawns, the turf standard in the middle, often called general-purpose turf is best. Low price turf will have some weeds in it and will usually be younger. The highest quality turf will often need more aftercare. Order a couple of square metres more than you need to allow for cuts.

Preparation

Spread your sand or topsoil over the whole area before you lay any turf. Use a rake to get a nice even spread and even out any lumps and bumps as you go. Consolidate the soil by treading with your feet making sure you cover the whole area. As you tread, you will feel if there are any changes in level and you can deal with them with the rake as you go. Do not use a roller to firm the soil before you turf. The time to use a roller if you have to is after the turf has been down for some time and growing well. If you use a roller, you will over-compact the soil and make it difficult for the roots of the grass to penetrate.

Choosing a laying pattern

The best way to lay turf is to set out a frame of turf all the way around the site. This will ensure you have a nice solid piece of the turf around the edges and its less likely that the turf will lift and curl up during dry periods.

If you are turfing on a slope, you should lay a horizontal piece of turf at the foot of the slope, the lay your turf vertically over the slope. Laying the turf in this way will prevent the turf from slipping down the hill before it has had time to root. On slopes, always start at the bottom of the slope.

For a curved site, lay your frame in the shape of the curve first and then turf in straight lines using the frame as your cutting guide.

Laying the turf

After you have set out your frame, lay your turf from one end of the site to the other, making sure you have staggered joins all the way. You will need a few long boards to stand on since you will be laying by standing on the boards on top of the turf you have already laid. Using this method, the boards help to push the turf down onto the topsoil underneath and you don't have to spend time patting the turf down.

Make sure you lay out enough boards to allow you to get back and forwards to your pile of turf without stepping off the boards and onto the lawn. NEVER WALK ON A NEWLY-LAID LAWN SINCE YOU WILL LEAVE A DEPRESSION IN THE TURF WHEREVER YOU WALK.

Cutting the turf

You can cut turf using a sharp knife or a half-moon edger - whatever you prefer. To get a perfect cut, especially on curves, slip the end of the turf you want to cut underneath the piece of turf on the frame and make your cut so that you throw away the piece underneath. Always cut as you go along - don't leave all the cutting to last.

Finishing

All that's left to do to finish off your turfing job is to water it. Water your turf straight away and give it a really good drenching. The best way to do this is to set a sprinkler on it and move the sprinkler around every half an hour or so until you have covered the whole thing. Pay particular attention to the edges as these are the most vulnerable.

Aftercare

Before not too long, your turf will have rooted and won't need much more care other than regular cutting and feeding but, it will be vulnerable for the first few weeks.

You must make sure the turf is watered EVERY DAY until it has developed good roots. Avoid walking on the turf until it has rooted well also. It is safe to walk on the turf only when you pull the edge of it and it doesn't come away.

Until the grass has rooted really well, it will compensate for its lack of roots by putting on a lot of green growth. Make sure you cut the lawn little and often during this time. If you let it get too long and then cut off a lot of growth at once, you will shock it and your turf will turn yellow. Make sure the blades on your lawnmower are nice and sharp for a good, clean cut.

It is a good idea to give your new lawn a feed at the end of the growing season but this should be a feed specially designed for autumn - not the usual summer feed. Autumn feeds encourage good root growth.

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