Laying Turf - Preparing a new Lawn
Turf is still the number one choice for laying
new lawns. It is an instant lawn that can be used fully in a
matter of months - sometimes just a few weeks. Nowadays, turf is
normally farmed properly, with good general lawn seed mixes
resulting in a good grass - normally free of weeds! The days of
turf suppliers contacting local farmers, to see if they have a
meadow that is no longer required for sheep grazing are all but
finished. Modern turf production entails choice of suitable
seed, good growing medium and a well cut finished article.
is the quickest way of getting a new lawn. The preparation
necessary for laying turf is simple and often misquoted or
misunderstood. Laying turf is simple, and here is how you
go about laying a turf lawn>>>>
Before you start, bear in mind that turf is not always as
controlled as grass seed. Most grass seed that is sown will be
subject to various regulations and standards. Turf can be
variable - even from the same supplier at different periods.
It would be good to try and visit your supplier to see what
is in stock - just to make sure that all the hard work you are
going to do by way of turfing your new lawn will not be in vain.
1. There are a
few thing to do before you go about laying new turf
lawns.After digging the ground over, the soil
should be firmed; by treading all over the lawn
area, until it is firm enough not to leave
footprints. If you have not 'levelled' a piece of
ground before - or even if you have! - A straight
edge - here a scaffold board - will prove a useful
A slight slope across or down the garden is never a
problem - we are not talking about level as in spirit level. Basically
the aim is for a lawn with no bumps or hollows.
Grade with straight edge, rake over, consolidate with feet, grade
again with straight edge, consolidate with feet and rake to fine tilth.
Repeat this as many times as is required to ensure you have a flat lawn,
with no daylight showing beneath the straight edge timber. The heavier
the timber the better - but watch your back. It can be very tiring if
you are not used to this type of work.
Needless to say - I hope - that this should all be
carried out when the soil is most - or dry - but not
when waterlogged - especially on heavy soils.
Do not be afraid to stand on, or work from the area
that you are levelling. The soil should have been
firmed enough to withstand your weight!! After all,
you are going to want to walk over your newly laid
lawn eventually. Your footprint should be no more than
a mark - not a depression!
The final operation in levelling your new lawn area,
should be a light raking over the whole are to double check the level of
the lawn, and to provide a good surface - not too compacted - to enable
the turf roots to penetrate.
3. When you
are ready for laying your turf to form your new
lawn, work forward -
preferably from a few scaffold boards or even a
sheet of shuttering plywood - laying the turf
in front of you. Don't run about on the new
turf with a wheelbarrow though. But it is ok
wheeling on the scaffold board. Do any
necessary fine adjustments to the 'levelling at this
stage. If you feel a bump or a hollow beneath the
board, sort it out. If the turf is to be wheeled any
distance in wheelbarrow, then make sure that you
have enough scaffold boards before you start. Do not
wheel the wheelbarrow on the newly laid turf - not
even if you have a ball barrow.
If you can, try and lay the turf so that they
are staggered - as with brickwork. However, this is NOT absolutely
essential. If you lay the turf staggered or butted up against each
other, you will still end up with the same combined lengths of
individual turf joints. A simple overlap will suffice.
4. As above
- just take your time. Simply moving the scaffold
board forward and working from it, will be enough to
settle the turf in. There is no need to beat the
daylights out of it. This only loosens it as
it bounces up and down!. A good watering, after the
turf has been laid, will be all that is required to
settle the turf into close contact with the soil
underneath. As you walk the boards, you will 'feel'
or sense if there are any hollows underneath. Don't be too eager to
finish and ignore these last minute adjustments. Have a bucket or so of
fine soil - or soil and sand mix to do the fine adjustments to hollows
as you proceed.
Once the turf has been laid,
treat it with a bit of respect. A good watering after
laying, will help the turf settle down and start the
rooting through process. If you carefully lift a corner of
one of the turf after 4 or 5 days, you will probably see
first signs of new roots growing from the turf. This will
depend a little on the weather conditions and temperature.
(If you lay your turf in winter, it probably won't start
rooting until its bed warms up in early spring.
You can walk upon it
right away; but please, no football or the like for a few
weeks. (Even if you do feel that the England team might
call upon your services!)
Make sure that you cut the grass as soon as it is long
enough - even after a week if necessary. Make sure that
the mower is sharp, and lift the blades to their topmost
height for the first two cuts.
If the new turf separates and forms cracks in hot weather,
brush a little soil or sand into the cracks and keep
watered. If you find that the lawn has 'settled' into a
few small dips, lift the turf off the area that has sunk,
and bring the soil back up to level with a little bit more
If your garden soil is 'heavy' then don't be afraid to
incorporate a fair quantity of sharp sand. It can be
incorporated into the soil by piercing with a fork.
This will give better drainage, and help the lawn in
play areas and areas of hard use. The application of
a layer of sharp sand will probably be beneficial to
most new lawns. Essential if the soil is heavy and
sticks to your boots.
Other than its horticultural benefit, a 'sanded' lawn
surface is a dream to level - providing that you are not filling hollows
that are more than an inch (25mm) deep. By laying a layer of sharp sand
over the area, you can get the lawn more or less perfectly level with
either the straight edge - or the back of a 'landscape-size' rake.
By David Hughes -