When you’re buying turf, “cultivated turf” is just one of the many different terms and descriptions you’ll come across. This article helps you to understand what they all mean.

This is a short dictionary to help you decipher some of the terms you hear and read whilst looking for turf to buy.

Turf

The Oxford English Dictionary defines turf as “Grass and the surface layer of earth held together by its roots”.

The word turf is used to talk about sports surfaces, about pieces of peat used for burning and for territory.

cultivated turf

Cultivated turf is grown outdoors in fields and cared for using tractors and specialised machinery

We’re going to be talking about pieces of grass with roots and a thin layer of soil that has been cut out and lifted from an area so that they can be transplanted elsewhere.

turf on pallet
This is what 70 square metres of turf looks like when stacked onto a pallet. It weighs around 1 tonne and is too much for a normal family car – better to have your turf delivered by the supplier

Cultivated Turf

Cultivated turf is a crop. When you see the term “cultivated turf” used to describe lawn products that means it’s been grown especially for harvesting. It will be grown from a very specially selected mixture of lawn grass seed varieties and very carefully nurtured so that it has no broadleaved weeds, a nice tight sward and a vigorous, healthy root system.

Meadow Turf

Meadow turf is an old term. These days you’ll see it used in one of two ways. It is either a reference to wildflower turf which has been specially grown for the UK landscape market. Or it’s referring to turf that has been harvested from a meadow.

If it’s the latter, then expect to see a course, agricultural grasses; possibly some weeds; and a thicker layer of soil (because the root system hasn’t formed a mat the way it does in cultivated turf). There may also be some organic evidence that it’s recently been grazed by animals.

Wildflower Turf

As a beekeeper, this is my favourite type of turf. Wildflowers and grasses are deliberately grown onto a thin layer of soil so that they can be very easily established into a garden, a planter or on to a living green roof.

More information here:

cycle shed with green roof
This green roof cycle shed near Teddington Lock in London was made with Meadowmat Wild Flower Matting.

Seeded Turf

Another term for cultivated turf

Fine Turf

Turf is grown using very fine-leaved grass species such as Chewings fescue or Browntop bent. This type of turf is used to make bowling greens or golf greens. It has a beautiful velvety texture but needs expert care to keep it looking good.

bowling green made from fine turf
Fine turf is frequently used to create smooth, free-running playing surfaces like this bowls green

Shade Tolerant Turf

Turf that is grown using grass bred from woodland species. It will put up with the lower light conditions under trees. But don’t live in very deep shade.

Ryegrass

This is a grass species commonly used in the production of cultivated turf. Modern species of ryegrass are fine-leaved, hardwearing and keep their colour well in winter. Ideal for family lawns, public areas and sports fields. Great for front gardens too because it’s usually pretty easy to care for.

Fescue

Another type of grass. Chewings Fescue and Strong Creeping Red Fescue have lovely fine leaves and are often mixed with ryegrass when growing cultivated turf. These plants have strong roots that spread out just below the surface of the soil giving the rolled turf plenty of strength. Above the ground, fescues help produce a nice thick sward that looks and feels amazing.

Smooth Stalked Meadow Grass

Don’t be put off by that word “meadow”. This grass most definitely does not look as though it should be growing in a cow field. It does have slightly thicker leaves than ryegrass but it has this amazing ability to repair baldy bits in a lawn. Smooth Stalked Meadow Grass has underground stems which search out bare areas and propagate new grass plants in them. It’s an essential component of turf for family lawns and sports fields.

Need more help with turf terms?

These articles might help, if not, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Turfonline team. Everybody here is ready, willing and able to answer your questions

Choosing the best turf for your front garden

Reasons to choose natural turf instead of artificial turf

The real cost of cheap turf