Creating a Lawn From Turf

Why turf? A new lawn by laying turf is simply the quickest way. It only takes a few weeks before your lawn looks like it’s been there for years – and can be used as if it had been. There is no need to make a special seed bed and soil preparation is easier.

You will need:

  • Spade or Fork
  • Manure or compost, grit, ground limestone as necessary
  • Soil-testing kit
  • General all-purpose fertiliser
  • Rake
  • Sand or topsoil
  • Turf
  • Plank
  • Half-moon spade or a sharp knife

Step 1: Preparation

  1. You can turf at almost any time of the year when weather conditions are good.
  2. Completely clear all rubbish, rubble, weeds and vegetation. Remove pieces of buried wood as these will produce toadstools when rotting down.

Step 2: Dig over

  1. Break up the soil by digging to at least 225mm (9in). Break up any compacted soil well if you suspect poor drainage.
  2. If the soil is poor add well rotted manure or compost. If the soil is heavy add lots of grit to improve soil structure and drainage.
  3. Test soil with a soil-testing kit. The ideal soil pH is between 5.5 and 6. If your soil is very acid (below pH 5) apply ground limestone at about 50g/metre squared (2oz/yard squared) to correct.
  4. Level the site, breaking up large lumps of soil and removing stones. Thoroughly firm the ground by walking slowly over the site on your heels. Lightly rake level.
  5. Top dress with a general all-purpose fertiliser. You’ll need about 50g/metre squared (2oz/yard squared). Lightly rake in.

Step 3: Order and lay turf

  1. Obtain turf from a reliable supplier – one that friends have used or, if not, see a sample before purchase. Inspect for quality of grass (too much coarse grass is not a good idea) and for absence of weeds.
  2. When the turf arrives, if weather conditions are not right for laying, open out in a shady spot and water regularly. The pieces of turf should not be left rolled up for more than 24 hours.
  3. Lay the turf across the area, starting at the end closest to the pile. Work along the nearest edge and lay in a brick pattern.
  4. Never stand on the bare soil – always stand on a plank on the turf already laid. Press the pieces of turf together as they are laid to reduce gaps.

Step 4: Trim to size

  1. If the pieces of turf do not fit together neatly because they have not been cut straight, don’t leave gaps, but make a clear overlap and cut along the top edge removing the surplus piece below.
  2. Trim the edges using a half-moon spade and plank.
  3. Work in a mixture of sand and topsoil along the cracks and brush over. Grass will soon root into these margins.

Step 5: Roll and mow

  1. A few days after laying, roll the new turf. If you have no lawn roller use a rotary mower tipped up so the blades don’t cut.
  2. After about a week, make a high cut, trimming no more than 1/3 off the grass blades. Thereafter lower the cut gradually but not less than 25mm (1in) for a hardwearing lawn.
  3. If there’s no rain, water well until the new lawn is established.

For more advice on lawns, see Lawn Maintenance.

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