How To Lay Turf: [An Ultimate Guide] + Tips & Aftercare

If your lawn is looking old and patchy, then you may have made the decision to upgrade to a nice, lush green lawn.

If this is the case then you will need to know how to lay turf. Laying turf is not is simple as you may think.

There is a step-by-step process and some important tips and tricks that you will need to know for the turf laying process to be a success.

Whether you are looking to patch a small area, or cover a large space in your back garden, this guide will teach you how to lay turf, preparation before you begin, tools required for the job and a crucial aftercare guide to ensure your lawn stays healthy.

Let’s dive straight in!

The Benefits Of A Lawn

A lawn is not just for a natural. aesthetical appearance. Believe it or not, there are many surprising benefits to having a lawn and turfed areas.

  • Cooling Effect: Natural turf stays cooler by up to 30 degrees in hot weather in comparison to harder landscaping surfaces.
  • Air Quality/Oxygen: Natural turf has the ability to absorb carbon dioxide, and produce oxygen which is released into the atmosphere. A healthy lawn measuring 250m square has the ability to produce enough oxygen for a family of 4. Turf also traps dust.
  • Absorbs Water: Turf does an excellent job of absorbing rainfall and slowing down the flow of water to prevent flooding.
  • Stress Emotional Wellness: It’s proven that natural green spaces can reduce stress by lowering blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Adds Value: Green space such as turf can add value to a property.
  • Hygienic: Lawns have a self-cleaning surface through the growing and respiring process.

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What Time Of Year Is Best To Lay Turf?

The best time to lay turf is either early spring or early to mid-autumn when quality of the soil is at it’s best. The best conditions for laying turf is when the soil is not too wet. You can lay turf pretty much any time of the year except for when there is frost on the ground.

Lawn Planning And Preparation

Before you even think about purchasing turf, it’s important that the whole process is planned out including measurements and making sure you have all of the correct tools for the job. Let’s take a look in more detail.

Lawn Measurements

To avoid buying too much or too little turf, it’s important to calculate exactly how much you will need. At TW Aggregates, our turf is sold in 1 SQ meter rolls. We have a turf calculator that will tell you exactly how much turf you will need to order, based upon your measurements.

How To Measure A Square Or Rectangular Lawn

Simply measure the length and width in meters and multiply the two numbers together. So far example, if it were 12(m) x 12(m), you would need to order 144 SQ meters of turf (12 x 12 = 144). Or you can simply put the measurements into our turf calculator where it will work it out for you.

How To Measure A Circular Lawn

The first measurement you will need is the radius. To get this, simply a straight line from the centre of the circle to the outside of the circle. You will then multiply this number by pi (3.142). This will then give you the area of a circular lawn.

How To Measure An Irregular Lawn

The best way to calculate this is to split the irregular lawn up into smaller squares and circles using the other two methods, which is then added together to get the overall area. An educated guess may be required on some areas, and it is always best to order 5% more turf than required.

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Recommended Tools For Laying Turf

In order to successfully lay turf, a number of different tools are required:

  • A sharp spade or turf cutting tool
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Rake
  • Garden fork
  • Gardening gloves
  • Hose pipe
  • A sharp knife
  • Some scaffolding planks
  • Topsoil (if required)
  • Weed killer (if required)

How To Remove An Existing Lawn

An important aspect of the overall turf laying process is ground preparation. This requires a bit of time, but the benefits are a successful and healthy lawn that you can enjoy for many years.

It’s not a good idea to lay fresh turf onto an existing lawn, as this can prevent the turf from rooting correctly. So if you have an existing lawn, you will firstly need to remove it.

Method 1: How To Dig Up A Lawn using A Shovel

  1. The first step is to mow your lawn. make sure your mower is on the lowest setting.
  2. You will then need to water the lawn and the wait a couple of days.
  3. Cut the turf into long strips at around 4 inches deep using a shovel.
  4. Use a hose to water again.
  5. Over the next couple of weeks, keep an eye on the area and remove any weeds that appear.

Using a sod cutter:

You may want to use a sod cutter on your lawn. To do this, simply follow the first two steps above, and then use the sod cutter on your lawn that will cut sections at 12 to 18 inches wide.

  • Each section that is cut should be rolled up and relocated.
  • The grass-side-down sod should be spread with around 2 to 4 inches of compost.
  • Till the soil with a rototiller once the sod has turned brown and dried.

Using a rototiller:

This machine basically churns up turf and topsoil to around 5 to 6 inches deep.

  • You will generally need around two passes on each section of the lawn in an overlapping manner.
  • Once completed, use around an inch of compost and till it into the soil.

Method 2: Solarisation

This method works well if you live in a region that’s very warm and sunny. Here’s the process:

  1. Mow your lawn using the lowest setting.
  2. Thoroughly water the grass using a hose.
  3. Plastic sheeting should be used to cover the entire lawn. You can use rocks to anchor the sheeting in place.
  4. This should be left in place for four to eight weeks. The warmer and sunnier it is, the quicker this process will happen.
  5. Remove the plastic sheeting.

Tip: This same process will work even if the weather is cooler. To do this, simply use black plastic sheeting instead of the clear plastic. This works because it will block the sunlight and prevent photosynthesis.

Checking The Depth And Quality Of Your Topsoil

The topsoil should have a  depth of around 100mm to 150mm. This should be levelled using a rake. A soil improver can be used on existing soil to improve the quality.

If you need to purchase more soil, we recommend our TS1 Top Soil.

Levelling The Ground

To help get the most out of your new turf, it’s important that the ground is level.

To the eye, the ground may appear to be level, but this isn’t always the case. You’ll find that there are always areas that need some work.

Here’s how to level the ground:

  1. The soil needs to be loosened up by either digging or rotovating.
  2. Remove any debris such as stones or weeds.
  3. Walk over the entire area to compact the soil.
  4. Fill in any dips or hollows.
  5. Continue to rake and fine tune the soil until it is fine and even.
  6. Water the soil a few days before your turf arrives.

Tip: No heavy equipment such as roller should be used on the soil as this will cause the soil to compact too much.

Ordering Turf

Once you are sure the area is 100% prepared and complete, you are now ready to order the turf.

You can order our turf here where we also have a calculator that will tell you exactly how much turf you will need to order. You can check the section above in this guide where we show you how to measure a lawn.

When your turf arrives, unroll the turf and keep it in a shaded area to allow the air to reach the grass. It’s always best to lay the turf as soon as possible for best results, especially in warmer months.

If you need any extra soil for your garden, you can try our Screened Top Soil TS1.

How To Lay Turf: Step-By-Step

In this section we are going to show you the step-by step process on how to lay turf.

Step 1

It’s best to start off the laying process on a straight edge of your garden such as a border. You can lay the turf out next to a plank if there isn’t a border.

You should leave some excess on the first roll which can be trimmed using a long-bladed garden knife. Using both hands, gently press the turf into the ground.

For Circular Lawns: Start from the middle and work your way out.

Step 2

Continue to lay each roll directly after the next, ensuring that the edges are parallel and closely butted up against one another using both hands to prevent any gaps.

Continue this process until you have finished an entire row.

Tip: Use a board to stand on to prevent leaving footprints on your lawn.

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Step 3

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It’s now time to start working on the next row of turf. The key here is to stagger each patch of turf next to the previous row.

If done correctly, the middle of the patches should line up with the seams from the previous and next row, just like a brickwork design.

This is to ensure a more even coverage, and to prevent the turf from drying out.

Step 4

Continue the above steps until you have covered the entire area. You should now do two things:

  • Perfecting Your Lawn: Take a sharp knife or spade and go around trimming any cleaning up any excess turf.
  • Pack Down The Turf: Use the back of a rake or spade to press down each patch of turf. Start from one corner and make sure you go over each row.

Step 5

It’s important to thoroughly water the turf the same day it is laid to help the roots establish and to prevent the turf from drying out.

Be careful not to water the turf too much, which can cause the turf to separate from the soil beneath it.

The correct way to do is is to water until it begins to puddle, then let the water soak in so it it absorbs into the soil below.

Laying Turf To A Curve

If you are laying turf on a circular lawn or to a curve, it is virtually the same process as it would be for a rectangular or square lawn.

The only difference is that you will need to slightly overlap the patches of turf until it forms the curve. You would then trim any excess until you have a clean curve.

Aftercare: How To Care For Your New Lawn

What’s just as important as knowing how to lay turf is the aftercare and knowing what to in the weeks ahead after your new lawn is down.

Keep Off The Grass

You should avoid walking on your new turf for around 2 to 3 weeks (This also includes pets).

This is because it takes it takes around this length of time for the roots of the new turf to completely root into the soil. Walking on the grass can cause disruption to this process.

How to test that the turf is rooted:

Take a corner of your new turf and gently attempt to lift it up. If it lifts then then hasn’t correctly rooted. If it doesn’t move then the rooting process is successful.

Watering

It’s important to water newly laid turf to ensure that the rooting process is a success. The frequency of watering will depend upon the time of year and how much rain is forecast.

Here are some tips to follow:

  • The First Week: Water once per day (normal weather conditions), twice per day (during hot weather) or if there’s a lot of heavy rain during the day, this will be enough and there is no need to water. Once per day is also enough during spring and autumn months.
  • Weeks 2 – 3: Water around 2 – 3 times a week.
  • Weeks 4 – 6: The watering frequency can be reduced to 1 – 2 times per week.
  • Best Time To Water: Make sure to water either in the evening or early morning. This is to ensure that the water is fully absorbed by the soil and not evaporated by the sun before it has chance to do this.
  • Signs Of Dying Turf: If you notice your turf is either curling or turning brown, you should water immediately.

Feeding

Feeding your turf is another essential step to ensure that you develop a healthy and vibrant lawn. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Your lawn will not need feeding until 6-8 weeks if you used pre-turfing soil or pre-urfing fertiliser.
  • During the growing season, use a balanced fertiliser on the lawn every four to six weeks.

Mowing

When it comes to mowing your newly laid turf, here are some tips you can follow:

  • Before you cut your grass for the first time, it’s always best to check that the turf has fully rooted. To do this, simply lift the corner of the turf.
  • You should mow your lawn within 1-2 weeks of the turf being laid if your turf has been laid in the summer.
  • To avoid stressing the grass on the first mow, set your lawn mower to the highest and make sure the blades are sharp.
  • Mow the lawn regularly during spring, summer and autumn.
  • Grass will grow at a slower pace during the water months, so only cut the grass if it is visibly growing.
  • The height of the cut can gradually be reduced once your lawn becomes fully established.

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Ready To Order?

You should now know the correct process of how to to lay turf, and how to look after your lawn once it has been laid. Once you have removed your existing lawn and fully prepped the area, you can now order your turf.

How To Lay Turf Conclusion

As you can see, there are many benefits to having a lawn, and with a bit of planning and preparation, you can easily install a new lawn yourself.

Just make sure to remove your existing lawn and fully prep the area before you order your new turf. This is because the turf will need to be laid as soon as possible.

Simply follow the step-by-step instructions in our how to lay turf guide, and then use the aftercare tips to ensure the end result is a vibrant and healthy lawn.

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