Need to finish your garden by Christmas? It’s perfectly possible to lay turf in December. Here’s how.
How to lay turf in December
- Prepare soil thoroughly paying lots of attention to drainage and texture
- Add dry topsoil to very wet soil to create a fine tilth
- Incorporate some pre-turfing fertiliser
- Order turf from a reputable supplier
- Wet turves will be heavier – make sure you have plenty of help on hand
- Start by laying turves around the edges of your new lawn
- Fill in the centre by laying turf in a brickwork fashion
- Always work from turf laying boards to avoid soil compaction
- Water turf in but be mindful of overwatering
- Keep off the grass until spring – winter laid turf takes a little longer to establish
If your garden looks like this, Turf growers will be unable to get their crops out of the field. Laying turf in December on a snowy year just isn’t going to happen.
Preparing your garden for turfing
Laying turf is all about careful soil preparation. In wintertime – especially after a lot of rainfall – the soil can be tricky to work with. What you are aiming for is a nice level surface, a fine tilth and lots of air space between soil particles for the roots to work their way into.
Soggy soil, however, can soon turn into a quagmire if you get your preparation technique a bit wrong.
Start by removing all of the old vegetation.
Thinking about cheating? Read our blog about laying new turf on top of an old lawn
Next, open up the structure of the soil by digging or rotovating to at least 15cm deep. If your garden is very wet, you have 2 options. Either wait for excess water to drain away, or, spread 5-8 cm of good quality, dry topsoil on top before beginning your preparation. Provided you don’t have another rain deluge, your digging/rotovating will mix the dry topsoil with the soggy stuff and help to improve the texture.
If soil is frosty, it is more likely to become sludgy when you try to work it. If you can wait for a dry, bright day you’ll get much better results.
After digging, use a rake to level the soil and break down any large lumps. Avoid stepping on the soil if you can. Ideally, work from the path or from turf laying boards.
Incorporate some pre-turfing fertiliser into the soil at this stage. The plants will need all the nutrients they can get to help them cope with winter conditions.
Once the soil is prepared, lay your turf as soon as possible. Another heavy rainfall or a frost could undo all of your hard work.
Laying turf in December
You will need waterproof gloves!
If you are used to laying turf in the summertime, be prepared for winter turves to be much heavier. They are grown outdoors in a field and subjected to similar weather conditions to your garden. If your soil is wet, the turf will be too.
Start with a row of turves all around the edge of the new lawn. Trim them to size if necessary.
Use these as a base for your laying boards as you start filling in the centre. Work left to right in rows, arranging the turves in a brickwork pattern but without stepping onto the soil or any of the turf you have laid.
It’s crucial that you avoid soil compaction at all costs.
Should I water in new turf when the soil is wet?
Yes! Watering helps the soil to settle around the plant roots. BUT be very careful not to saturate the soil. If the ground beneath your turf is already wet, it’ll take a long time to drain away.
For the first watering, make sure that the water seeps through the turf and into the soil below but try not to let puddles form on the surface. As the weather isn’t likely to be too hot, there’s no harm in giving your new lawn a light watering, leaving it for half an hour to let it soak through and then giving it another watering if it needs it.
Be prepared to water your turf every day – but also be aware that it might not need it. Provided the soil is damp, it’s ok to skip a day.
Keep off the grass
Try not to walk on your new lawn until the roots are well and truly established. In cold weather, it may take as much as 8-10 weeks. How will you know? If you can tug on the grass and not feel the whole turf lift up, then the roots are settling in nicely.
NEVER walk on frosted grass. You will have dead brown footprints in the lawn when spring arrives. Yuk!
Help and advice
The Turfonline Team are here during office hours to answer any questions you may have about laying turf in December.