Why preparation is important?
We all want instant results these days, which turf provides, but taking the extra time on preparing the site can save time and money on work trying to renovate the lawn at a later stage.
If the garden lies wet then you will need to address this otherwise the grass will eventually die back and you will end up with a layer of moss rather than a lawn. If the problem is severe you may have to go to the expense of putting in a tile drainage system otherwise a simple drainage system by building layers consisting of rubble, stones and topsoil is the answer.
If you don’t need to sort out drainage issues then you can continue to the next step.
The first step is to get the site back to bare earth. Remove any large debris, dig out in tree stumps. Any weeds and grasses need to be sprayed with a weed killer containing glyphosate. Always follow the instructions. If you prefer you can apply the organic gardening method by killing off the grass and weeds by putting a light proof black plastic sheet, or an old carpet over the area and due to lack of sunlight the weeds and grasses will die off underneath. Once the weeds have died off you will need to dig over or rotovate the area to be turfed. Most tool hire shops hire out rotovators which break up the soil creating a workable soil.
“I think the answer lies in the soil” was a catch phrase used by a BBC gardener many years ago. How true these words are. Because when it comes to the quality of living plants, it is the soil which sustains them. By supplying oxygen, essential nutrients and the right balance of moisture. If you believe that your soil is poor quality or of insufficient volume then introduce additional good quality screened topsoil and blend in with the existing.
You now need to tread the site to firm it down. By digging over and/or rotavating the site you have broken up any compaction and introduced oxygen to the soil. You don’t want to undo all this good work by rolling the site, it only needs to be foot firm so treading the site is sufficient. Put on a good pair of wellington boots and taking short overlapping steps all over the soil surface.
Now you need to rake out the prepared soil to achieve a smooth level surface removing any large clods or stones as you do so. To give a final level tie a rope to either end of a short ladder or a wooden pallet and pull it across the surface.
Apply a pre-turfing fertiliser to the soil. This is like an insurance policy, it is a guarantee that there are essential nutrients available to the newly establishing turf. I’m amazed by how many people, after doing all that hard work don’t want to fork out the extra few pounds it costs for this important step.