The quickest way to get a beautiful lawn is to lay turf. This can be done at any time of the year, but spring and autumn are best because there is less chance of the new turf drying out. If you are laying turf in the summer you will need to be careful to ensure that the new lawn does not dry out. If you are laying turf in the winter, you must ensure you avoid any prolonged cold spells.
Calculate How Much Turf is Required
First of all you need to calculate how much turf you will need. Measure the width and length of the area to be turfed, and multiply one figure by the other. This will give you an amount in square metres. It’s a good idea to add on an extra 5% to the total to account for shaping.
It is very important to fully prepare the ground where the turf is to be laid. A good bed of soil will allow the turf to root more easily, which will help with drought resistance. You should have 4-6” of good quality soil, loosely turned over and raked level so that it is free of stones, weeds and large lumps.
You must ensure that the ground is level and free of lumps and bumps, as the lawn will take on any bumps or dips in the ground. After turning over the soil, lightly compact it by gently treading over the whole area. You can then rake it over to ensure it is completely level. Ideally, you should water the ground a day or two prior to laying the turf, raking it again just before the turf is laid. Watering will help the soil to settle and provide water for the turf roots.
Laying the Turf
Turf should be laid as soon as possible after it is delivered or collected, as when it is rolled up it can’t get any sunlight which will weaken it.
Try to start laying against a straight edge. You will need a plank of wood, a garden fork, a brush or broom, and a supply of fine topsoil or compost. Start to lay the turf, leaving a slight hump at the edge of each piece of turf as you lay it against the previous one. As you have laid each turf, push down the hump you left at the edge to make it lay flat against its neighbour. Press down each turf to ensure the roots make good contact with the soil underneath.
Once you have done the first row, lay your wooden plank on top of it and move on to the next row. Offset each row like brickwork, so that the joints are staggered instead of in line. Use a fork to nudge each piece hard against its neighbour lengthways, ensuring there are no gaps. If you need to cut the turf around an edge or feature, this can be easily done using a long knife, cutting spade or hand-saw.
Continue to lay the turf, staggering the joints on each row and ensuring there are no gaps anywhere. Sprinkle fine soil along all the joints, and then brush over the whole lawn. Water the new turf thoroughly when you have finished, ensuring that the water seeps all the way through to the ground below.
Continue to water your fresh turf daily until the lawn is well-established. Avoid watering in the middle of the day when the sun is strong, as this may scorch the grass. Early morning or evening is the best time to water, as less water is lost to evaporation at these times.
Try not to use the new lawn too much for the first few weeks; however you should be able to mow it a few days after laying. Mowing will encourage your lawn to establish. Carefully mow a small area the first time, and if there is any disturbance of the turfs leave it a few more days before continuing. The first few times you cut the new lawn, you should give a gentle cut, removing just one quarter of the length.