Can I lay new turf on top of an old lawn?

4 min read

laying turf in may

It sounds like a time-saving solution but should you lay new turf on top of an old lawn? Turfonline advise against it – and here’s why.

At the risk of sounding like a politician, I’m inclined to answer this question with another question – why on earth would you want to lay lovely new turf on top of an old lawn? I can understand the temptation to save yourself the work of lifting an old lawn, disposing of the grass and then preparing the soil for brand new turf, such as the highly-acclaimed Jubilee Lawn Turf, to rejuvenate the garden.  I must admit I have tempted to hang new wallpaper on top of old in the past – which is pretty much the same thing.

Yes, you can temporarily disguise bald patches in your lawn by laying new turf on top of it.  AND the new turf will probably root in to it in the short term but the effect will not last.  Your new lawn will soon look like your old one and you will have wasted your money!

5 reasons to not lay new turf on top of an old lawn

  • Soil compaction – new turf needs freshly prepared soil for the roots to grow well
  • Disease – any disease could affect the new turf
  • Pests – existing pests in the soil may attack new turf
  • Weeds – ditto for pests. Pernicious weeds need to be destroyed or they will push through new turf
  • Humps and hollows – proper soil preparation gives you a nice level lawn that is easy to grow

Let’s look at some of those things in more detail……

Your old lawn looks tired for a reason

If you are seriously thinking of re-turfing your lawn, there must be a reason behind it.  Usually, the reason is that the old lawn is worn out, has lumps and bumps in the surface, is pale and blotchy, perhaps mossy or weedy and just not nice.

If your old lawn doesn’t look great there’s probably a good reason for it.  Cure the problem and when you lay new turf you won’t be disappointed with the results.

All of those problems have an underlying cause.  More often than not, that cause lies in the soil beneath the lawn and/or in the grass species that are trying to grow there.

If you lay turf on top of it, you’re only hiding that problem.  You’re not addressing it.

As an analogy, look at me with my wallpaper.  If my old wallpaper is damp or lifting off the wall, I won’t cure that problem by sticking more paper on top of it.  The wall will still be damp and the new paper will soon start to bubble and lift along with the old stuff.  I will have wasted my time and money.

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Why soil preparation is so important

By lifting all of the old vegetation off your lawn you’ll be taking away weeds, grass plants that aren’t suited to the conditions, diseased grass and possible a good few pests too.

Things like leatherjackets and chafer grubs live just below the surface of the soil and eat the roots of your grass.  If these are the cause of your lawn’s demise, you need to discover them and remove them.

Next step in soil preparation is to dig or rotovate.  This fluffs up the soil and sorts out problems caused by compaction.  It the soil is poor, you can improve it at this stage.

preparing soil for lawns

Raking gets rid of large stones – these can cause discolouration in a lawn and could have been some of the problem before.  This is also the best way to level out any humps or hollows.

For best results – choosing the right turf

Laying the right turf for your project will mean that it can cope with the conditions in your garden and with your lifestyle.  If your old lawn was mossy and weak, the chances are that your garden is shady.  A shade tolerant turf, such as the Shadesman+ turf, would reduce the chances of those problems cropping up in the future.

In summary – should you lay new turf on top of an old lawn?

No – If you’re unable to lift your old lawn – try renovating it instead.  That’s scarifying, aerating, topdressing and over-seeding…still a lot of work and it’ll take time to see the results but things rarely happen quickly in nature.

How to lay turf properly

The cost of turf and turfing

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