Preparation For New Turf
It is worth spending time on the soil preparation because you cannot go back to it once the turf has been established. Taking that little extra time at this stage can save hours to weeks of work in renovation at a later date.
Always dig over or, preferably, deep rotavate the area to be turfed. If the top soil is not the best quality, or of insufficient volume, source a good supplier and add to existing, (TurfOnline are able to supply bulk bags of grade 1 screened topsoil if required). It is best to use screened loam as there will be no stones or clods which will make the raking out job much easier.
Slight undulations are not really a problem providing they are gradual and allow for smooth passage of the mower. A ‘bumpy’ foundation will cause scalping by the mower and the effect is not only unsightly, it can cause stress to the plants that have been scalped.
It is important that the prepared site is free from weeds, seeds, stones, clods or any other debris. Hard, lumpy objects can prevent simultaneous rooting and it is most important that the grass takes evenly, as stressed plants can be overtaken by weeds or weed grasses or even die completely if deprived of contact with the base soil.
Once you have created a smooth, consolidated surface to the desired contours, we would recommend application of a preturfing fertiliser, which we are able to supply if required. When this is done you are ready to receive your turf. This will be delivered in square metre rolls.
Laying Your New Lawn
At TurfOnline, each load is harvested to order. The tools you will require to lay your lawn are a shallow tine rake, scaffold planks, a sharp knife and an edging iron.
Place the rolls of turf in a convenient position for laying. Using your rake, just break the surface of the soil to form a tilth, pulling the rake towards you. Position your first row of turves, making sure that the ends are butted very close together. Use your sharp knife to shape the ends and conserve off-cuts for patching in.
When the first row is laid, place the scaffold plank on top. This will do three jobs:
- Act as a straight edge for your next row.
- Avoid indentations made by walking on the newly laid turf.
- Evenly distribute the compression weight for good soil to turf contact.
Rake the next area to receive turf, using the same pressure and direction on the rake. When starting the next row, start half a turf in to stagger the joints to prevent long gaps if shrinking occurs. When the line is complete, move the planks on to it and carry on in this way until the lawn is complete.
Start watering in as soon as possible, preferably within an hour of laying. In dry conditions, water morning and evening until well rooted and thereafter as grass indicates requirements.
How To Lay Turf Videos
How To Lay Turf Part 1 of 2 – Ground Preparation
How To Lay Turf Part 2 of 2 – Laying The Turf
Laying Turf in Summer
Establishing a lawn from turf in summer will be easy and successful if you follow these simple basic rules.
Order the turf to arrive on the day you intend to lay it! The turf must be unrolled and watered. Never water while the turf is still rolled.
Start watering the turf as soon as laying commences. This should be done even if it has rained within the last twelve hours. If you are experiencing a hose pipe ban we recommend you incorporate some water retaining gel into the prepared soil and use a watering can (if you are in an area prone to droughts maybe you may be worth investing in a water butt), otherwise use a sprinkler.
Continue watering morning and evening until the turf is well rooted. REMEMBER one hour’s watering as soon as the turf is laid is worth seven hours later on.
Pay particular attention to the edges of the turves when watering as these are the areas most prone to drying out. Ensure that the applied water is filtering through to the turf to the soil below. It must reach the root zone of the turf to be effective.
Constantly check that there is good root to soil contact to allow simultaneous rooting of the turf. If necessary, lightly roll the area or compress it by even distribution of a scaffold plank.
Do not flood the lawn when watering. Over-watering can consolidate the base soil making it difficult for the young and tender roots to gain purchase. It will also diminish the ‘soil air pockets’ that are essential for good root establishment.
It you observe the above recommendations then you will have no problems establishing a healthy lawn even in the hottest weather.
Aftercare: Hints & Tips
If you applied a pre-turfing fertiliser during preparation prior to laying, your turf will have received sufficient fertiliser necessary to maintain healthy growth for at least two months after harvesting. When applying chemical nutrients, great care should be taken and the manufacturer’s recommendations must be followed to the letter. Over application of any chemical treatment can cause the plants to die. Simplicity is the key. Grass plants need a nitrogen rich fertiliser during the spring/summer growing season and phosphorus to encourage root growth during late autumn. Fertiliser should be applied every eight to ten weeks throughout the growing season. A healthy lawn that receives adequate nutrients applied at the correct time of year is able to fight off weed infestation and disease.
After seven to ten days of laying turf in spring and summer, the grass should be well enough established to commence mowing. A good way to check is to turn back a corner of the turf. If it is well anchored by roots it is alright to start mowing. For the first cut, make sure that the mower is set at a height to just top the grass. A good rule of thumb is to never remove more than 25% of the total plant. This prevents stress to the plant and if not using a grass box, will reduce the quantity of unsightly and damaging clippings. For the best results mow at least twice weekly during the late spring, once a week during summer (if dry) and early autumn and approximately every ten days, mid to late autumn. Obviously this must be flexible to suit our varied weather conditions. Make sure your mower is maintained and sharp; mowers can damage the grass if not properly maintained.
Lawn Care Calendar
January To March
Not a lot to do to the lawn during this period, the grass growth is slowed right down because of the cold conditions. Try to stay off the lawn if it is covered in frost or very wet. Perhaps get the lawn mower serviced ready for spring.
Time to get the lawn mower out of hibernation and dusted off ready to make the first cut of the season. The smell of fresh grass clippings having been a distant memory will stimulate the senses and bring back memories of warmer days. Don’t be too harsh with your first clip, set the mower high and just remove the top. If your lawn is prone to worm casts then brush off before mowing with a besom broom.
You will need to mow the lawn at least once a week now. Gradually reduce the height of cut to the desired level. Feed the lawn with a nitrogen based fertiliser. This will green up and thicken up the lawn. If any weeds have invaded the lawn use a weed and feed. If you have bare areas (perhaps where leaves have laid) then scratch over with a spring tine rake and throw down some grass seed or for instant results with no risk of weeds patch in with new turf.
Mow once or twice a week depending on weather conditions. Apply another nitrogen rich lawn feed to keep the lawn really green. If a few persistent weeds remain use a spot treatment. If the weather turns hot and dry keep the cutting height up and use a sprinkler early morning or in the evening to keep the lawn healthy.
Mow once a week and feed with autumn fertiliser. If you notice the appearance of large numbers of crane fly then treat the lawn for leather jackets (crane fly larvae), these do a lot of damage by eating the grass roots (Bayer ‘Lawn Grub Killer’ is a available in most garden centres and through us). You should also spike the lawn to relieve compaction and introduce oxygen.
Remove any leaves as they fall. Mow the grass until temperatures dictate otherwise. Over sow or re-turf the lawn if necessary if bare patches have appeared due to heavy use.