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How to Lay Turf in 5 Steps

How to Prepare and Lay a new Lawn

Stack of turf grass for lawn. roll of sod, turf grass roll.Stack of turf grass for lawn. roll of sod, turf grass roll.

Turf is still the number one choice for laying new lawns. It is an instant lawn that can be used fully in a matter of months - sometimes just a few weeks. Nowadays, turf is normally farmed properly, with good general lawn seed mixes resulting in a good grass - normally free of weeds! The days of turf suppliers contacting local farmers, to see if they have a meadow that is no longer required for sheep grazing are all but finished. Modern turf production entails choice of suitable seed, good growing medium and a well cut finished article.

Laying turf is the quickest way of getting a new lawn. The preparation necessary for laying turf is simple and often misquoted or misunderstood. Laying turf is simple, and here is how you go about laying a turf lawn>>>> 

Before you start, bear in mind that turf is not always as controlled as grass seed. Most grass seed that is sown will be subject to various regulations and standards. Turf can be variable - even from the same supplier at different periods.

It would be good to try and visit your supplier to see what is in stock - just to make sure that all the hard work you are going to do by way of turfing your new lawn will not be in vain.

Laying Turf Step 1

A kneeling blue overalls laborer levels a sandy foundation with a wooden level for future sidewalk cladding. Copy space.
A straight edge timber for a perfectly laid lawn

Step 1. There are a few thing to do before you go about laying new turf lawns.After digging the ground over, the soil should be firmed; by treading all over the lawn area, until it is firm enough not to leave footprints. If you have not 'levelled' a piece of ground before - or even if you have! - A straight edge - here a scaffold board - will prove a useful aid. 

A slight slope across or down the garden is never a problem - we are not talking about level as in spirit level. Basically the aim is for a lawn with no bumps or hollows.

Grade with straight edge, rake over, consolidate with feet, grade again with straight edge, consolidate with feet and rake to fine tilth. Repeat this as many times as is required to ensure you have a flat lawn, with no daylight showing beneath the straight edge timber. The heavier the timber the better - but watch your back. It can be very tiring if you are not used to this type of work.

Laying Turf Step 2

Gardener applying turf rolls in the backyardGardener applying turf rolls in the backyard
The straight edge acts as a guide to levelling the soil

Step 2. Needless to say - I hope - that this should all be carried out when the soil is most - or dry - but not when waterlogged - especially on heavy soils. Do not be afraid to stand on, or work from the area that you are levelling. The soil should have been firmed enough to withstand your weight!! After all, you are going to want to walk over your newly laid lawn eventually. Your footprint should be no more than a mark - not a depression!

The final operation in levelling your new lawn area, should be a light raking over the whole are to double check the level of the lawn, and to provide a good surface - not too compacted - to enable the turf roots to penetrate.

Laying Turf Step 3

Worker leveling soil before laying grass sod at backyard, closeupWorker leveling soil before laying grass sod at backyard
Laying the turf from scaffold boards compacts the new turf - and avaids footpring damage

Step 3. When you are ready for laying your turf to form your new lawn, work forward - preferably from a few scaffold boards or even a sheet of shuttering plywood - laying the turf in front of you.  Don't run about on the new turf with a wheelbarrow though. But it is ok wheeling on the scaffold board. Do any necessary fine adjustments to the 'levelling at this stage. If you feel a bump or a hollow beneath the board, sort it out. If the turf is to be wheeled any distance in wheelbarrow, then make sure that you have enough scaffold boards before you start. Do not wheel the wheelbarrow on the newly laid turf - not even if you have a ball barrow.

If you can, try and lay  the turf so that they are staggered - as with brickwork. However, this is NOT absolutely essential. If you lay the turf staggered or butted up against each other, you will still end up with the same combined lengths of individual turf joints. A simple overlap will suffice.

Laying Turf Step 4

The scaffold boards in use with the roll of turf being laid

Step 4. As above - just take your time. Simply moving the scaffold board forward and working from it, will be enough to settle the turf in. There is no need to beat the daylights out of it.  This only loosens it as it bounces up and down!. A good watering, after the turf has been laid, will be all that is required to settle the turf into close contact with the soil underneath. As you walk the boards, you will 'feel' or sense if there are any hollows underneath. Don't be too eager to finish and ignore these last minute adjustments. Have a bucket or so of fine soil - or soil and sand mix to do the fine adjustments to hollows as you proceed.

Once the turf has been laid, treat it with a bit of respect. A good watering after laying, will help the turf settle down and start the rooting through process. If you carefully lift a corner of one of the turf after 4 or 5 days, you will probably see first signs of new roots growing from the turf. This will depend a little on the weather conditions and temperature. (If you lay your turf in winter, it probably won't start rooting until its bed warms up in early spring.

You can walk upon it right away; but please, no football or the like for a few weeks. (Even if you do feel that the England team might call upon your services!) 
Make sure that you cut the grass as soon as it is long enough - even after a week if necessary. Make sure that the mower is sharp, and lift the blades to their topmost height for the first two cuts.
If the new turf separates and forms cracks in hot weather, brush a little soil or sand into the cracks and keep
watered. If you find that the lawn has 'settled' into a few small dips, lift the turf off the area that has sunk, and bring the soil back up to level with a little bit more soil.

Laying Turf Step 5

Sand can be added and forked in to heavy clay soils for the lawn
Punch holes into the soil with a garden fork

Step 5. If your garden soil is 'heavy' then don't be afraid to incorporate a fair quantity of sharp sand. It can be incorporated into the soil by piercing with a fork. This will give better drainage, and help the lawn in play areas and areas of hard use. The application of a layer of sharp sand will probably be beneficial to most new lawns. Essential if the soil is heavy and sticks to your boots.

Other than its horticultural benefit, a 'sanded' lawn surface is a dream to level - providing that you are not filling hollows that are more than an inch (25mm) deep. By laying a layer of sharp sand over the area, you can get the lawn more or less perfectly level with either the straight edge - or the back of a 'landscape-size' rake.

How to Lay Turf in 5 Steps: A Beginner’s Guide

Transforming your garden with lush, green turf is one of the most rewarding projects for any homeowner. While seeding and artificial grass have their advantages, laying natural turf offers a genuine, vibrant lawn that's perfect for everything from family gatherings to a serene spot for relaxation. Whether you're a gardening novice or looking to spruce up your backyard, this guide will walk you through the process of laying turf in just five simple steps.

Introduction: Why Choose Turf?

There are numerous benefits to opting for turf over seeding or artificial grass:

  • Immediate Results: Unlike seeding, which can take weeks or even months to establish, turf provides an instant lawn.
  • Durability: Natural turf is resilient, recovering well from wear and tear, making it ideal for active households.
  • Environmental Benefits: Turf helps improve air quality, reduces heat, and provides a habitat for wildlife.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Nothing beats the lush, natural look of a beautifully laid turf.

Now, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of laying turf in your garden.

Step 1: Prepare the Soil for Turf

Testing and Amending the Soil

Before laying turf, proper soil preparation is crucial to ensure healthy growth. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Soil Testing: Start by testing your soil's pH level. Ideally, it should be between 6 and 7. You can purchase a soil testing kit from any garden centre.
  2. Amend the Soil: Based on your soil test results, you may need to amend the soil. Add lime to raise the pH or sulphur to lower it. Ensure your soil is rich in organic matter by incorporating compost or well-rotted manure.

Clearing and Leveling the Area

  1. Remove Existing Vegetation: Clear away any old grass, weeds, or debris. You can use a spade or a sod cutter for larger areas.
  2. Level the Ground: Rake the soil to remove stones, ensuring the ground is level. A smooth, even surface is essential for the turf to establish properly.

Step 2: Measuring and Ordering Turf

Accurate Measurements

  1. Calculate the Area: Measure the length and width of your lawn to calculate the total area. Add an extra 5% to account for cutting and overlapping.
  2. Order Quality Turf: Purchase high-quality turf from a reputable supplier. This ensures that your turf is free from weeds and pests.

Step 3: Laying the Turf

Step-by-Step Turf Installation

  1. Start Laying Turf: Begin laying turf along a straight edge, such as a patio or fence line. Place the pieces end-to-end without overlapping.
  2. Stagger the Joints: Lay the next row in a staggered brick-like pattern to avoid visible seams.
  3. Trim the Edges: Use a sharp knife or edging tool to trim excess turf along flower beds and paths.

Step 4: Watering and Maintenance

Post-Installation Care

  1. Water Immediately: Once your turf is laid, water it thoroughly to help the roots establish. Continue watering daily for the first two weeks.
  2. Mowing: Wait until the turf is well-rooted before your first mow—usually around 3-4 weeks. Adjust your mower to the highest setting and gradually reduce the height over subsequent mows.
  3. Fertilizing: Apply a balanced fertilizer after the first mowing to promote healthy growth.

Step 5: Maintaining Your Turf

Long-Term Lawn Care

Proper maintenance ensures your lawn remains lush and green:

  1. Regular Mowing: Keep your lawn at the recommended height for your turf type.
  2. Watering Schedule: Adjust your watering based on the weather—less frequent but deeper watering encourages deep root growth.
  3. Weed and Pest Control: Regularly inspect your lawn for weeds and pests, addressing any issues promptly.

Final Thoughts: The Importance of Turf Maintenance

Maintaining your newly laid turf is vital for its longevity and appearance. A well-kept lawn not only enhances your garden's aesthetic appeal but also increases your home's value. Remember, consistency is key. Regular watering, mowing, and fertilizing will keep your turf looking its best throughout the seasons.

Conclusion: Get Started and Share Your Success!

Now that you’re armed with the knowledge to lay turf like a pro, it’s time to get started on your garden transformation. We’d love to hear about your turf laying experiences and see your beautiful lawns! Share your success stories or ask any questions in the comments below.

By following these steps, you'll have a stunning, lush lawn in no time. For more gardening tips and advice, make sure to follow our blog.