The Turfonline Team are often asked about the shelf life of natural turf. In this article, we’re answering one of our most frequently asked questions “Can I leave turf overnight and lay it in the morning?”
The short answer to the question is “no”. Other than exceptional circumstances it is really not wise to leave turf overnight and lay it the next morning.
On the surface of it, it makes sense to order your turf to arrive the day before you want to lay it. That way you can get a clear run at the work the next day. WRONG!
However, ordering turf to arrive the day before you want to lay it is like ordering to be delivered the day before you want to eat it. You definitely won’t get the results you wanted.
How long will turf last?
Just as takeaway food starts to deteriorate within a very short time of leaving the kitchen, turf quality declines once it’s harvested.
What is turf?
Turf is a purpose-grown crop. It’s essentially established lawn (albeit a huge one) that has been grown from seed. When it’s mature it can be lifted from one place, rolled up so that it’s portable, and delivered to its new home.
Each roll of turf is a dense carpet of living grass plants. While they are growing the plants push their roots deep into the soil in order to source the water and the nutrients they need. As well as water and food, grass plants need good ventilation and plenty of sunshine.
Harvesting and rolling turf mean that some of the root mass is loss (it will grow back!) and that the plant has no access to water, food or sunshine.
How is turf harvested?
When you place an order for turf, the Turfonline team set the wheels in motion for harvesting and transporting your new lawn. Ordering direct from the grower cuts out the middle man and means that there is the least possible time between harvesting and delivery but still, it cannot be done instantaneously.
Turf is harvested using a very sophisticated (and very large) machine. Sharp blades move from side to side about 20mm beneath the surface of the ground to separate the grass from the soil. This removes a lot of roots but leaves enough so that the plant can regrow them.
The blanket of grass travels up a conveyor and is automatically rolled into an easily managed size and shape. The machine stacks turf rolls on a pallet so that they can be loaded onto a lorry using a forklift.
From the minute those roots are severed and the sunshine hidden from the grass blades, the plants are stressed. By re-laying the turf as soon as possible the stress is minimised and the recovery time is speeded up.
The most important reason for laying your turf as soon as it arrives is sod heating.
While your turf is rolled up, it’s not unlike a mini-compost heap. Left in the roll, it has the potential to generate enough heat to kill and rot the grass plants. Sod heating is far worse in warm weather but can happen at any time of year.
In wintertime, you might get away with leaving your turf overnight and laying it next day, but in spring, summer and autumn you risk the quality of your future lawn.
Consumer law for perishable goods is different to the law around clothes, white goods, books etc. Unless the product is faulty when you receive it, you may find it difficult to receive a refund for turf that has deteriorated after spending too long on the pallet – so please don’t take any risks. Read the T’s and C’s before confirming your order. And arrange for your turf to arrive on the day you plan to lay it