Posted on: 24 November 2015
For people who don't have the time (or patience) to grow a new lawn from seed, laying turf is a quick and easy way to create a new lawn. However, preparing the ground that you intend to lay turf on before you begin is just as important as it would be for seeding a lawn, and without properly prepared soil, you can encounter a range of problems ranging from yellow, dying grass to whole sheets of your turf coming loose when you walk on them.
When should I lay a new turf lawn?
Ideally, new turf should be laid down in mid-August. In the dead of winter, soil is often too moist and will cause young grass roots to die and rot, while in summer, the ground is generally too dry for the turf roots to effectively bond to it. The latter problem can be alleviated by watering the ground thoroughly before turf laying and by keeping the turf very well-watered for the first few weeks after laying; however, this generally involves walking on your new turf, which can easily create tears and divots.
How should I prepare the soil before I lay down new turf?
There are a number of precautions you can take before laying your new turf to maximise its chances of bonding well to your soil:
- Thoroughly weed your soil before laying turf. Ideally you should do this well in advance, to give time for any surviving weeds to grow back and be removed fully. Hand weeding is best for this, but most liquid weedkillers are also fine to use — you should avoid long-lasting powder weedkillers as they will remain in the soil long enough to attack your turf and kill roots trying to infiltrate the soil.
- The soil should be thoroughly rotovated, ideally to a depth of about a foot to allow maximum root depth.
- Manure or compost should be added to the soil after rotovation to increase the soil's water retention and provide valuable nitrates and nutrients for the grass to feed on. Adding a fertiliser is also recommended — general purpose fertilisers will work well, but turf suppliers also sell fertilisers specially formulated for turf laying purposes.
- To achieve a level lawn you should flatten your fertilised soil before laying turf, either with your feet or with a garden roller. However, soil should be left for at least a couple of weeks after rotovation to allow it to settle naturally and lessen the chances of sinkholes appearing.