To lay or not to lay – it’s a question I’m asked a lot when the heat of summer finally appears. Is it safe to lay turf in hot summer weather or should I delay until the autumn? The honest answer is that yes it’s OK to lay right now when it’s hot, but only if you stick to the rules!
Turf is misunderstood
Turf is often misunderstood – ‘throw it down, green side-up, give it a good soaking and Bob’s your proverbial…instant lawn’. But you know there’s more to it than that! Introducing turf to your garden requires as much care as you would give to any new plant – and that means preparation and after-care.
I go on and on about grass covering 20% of our beautiful planet – but I do that for a reason. It’s to remind people how resilient grasses are – and how well adapted they are to their natural environments. But therein lies the key to good turf installation. Providing the right environment is all. And that has far less to do with temperature and much more to do with moisture. Above all and to repeat it – preparation.
So here are my tips for creating the perfect environment for your new turf – follow these and you can lay pretty much any time of the year.
To lay or not to lay – Preparation:
You’re buying your turf from the experts, so it will be cut and transported to you with tremendous care. Your job is to continue that level of care and that means getting it down as soon as it arrives. And that means preparation.
Don’t just prepare the ground; think about all the tools you will need (and don’t forget the wooden planks so that you don’t have to tread on newly-laid turf). And if you really want to play it safe, complete your preparation before placing your order.
Leaving cut turf unlaid is bad at any time of year, but especially in the summer when it will dry out even faster. However, if you do have to put it to one side for a short while, don’t be tempted to water it unless you can unroll it first. That simply increases bacterial degradation.
So, get that site prepared first! I cover site preparation in my book, Modern Lawn Care – and it’s packed with useful tips for looking after that new lawn over the months and years ahead.
To lay or not to lay – Laying:
Laying turf is a little like building with bricks, but flat on the ground. You should start at the edges and build it up inwards. (this means you won’t have to walk across it) Make sure your seams are staggered like the edges in rows of bricks; this will reduce the amount of watering you need, especially in the summer.
To lay or not to lay – Watering:
This is the most important after-care. It’s essential that you get water right into the soil, not just dampen the surface. So, fewer but longer is the way to go. And water in the late evening if possible; it’s not just to reduce evaporation loss. This is the time of day when the roots will be growing and bedding in.
So, within a few hours of laying, give the entire new turfed area a really good watering. And I mean a lot of water. You can carefully peel back a corner of turf to see whether the soil is saturated – and if it isn’t, keep watering. Then as the days and weeks pass, use your common sense; you don’t want to create a mud bath under the turf, but you don’t want to risk the roots drying out either.
So, to lay or not to lay? It’s up to you, but don’t use the hot weather as an excuse not to. Sure, leave it till the autumn if you want. Just make sure that whatever the season and whatever the prevailing weather, you help create the perfect environment for the vulnerable new turf – and it will soon reward you with a robust, lush green lawn.