I recently visited a customer who contacted me with great concern that their turf “wasn’t knitting together”. Upon arrival, it seemed the lines on their lawn was the least of their worries. It was terrible turf.
I rarely recommend laying turf rather than sowing new seed. The quality of the final lawn that you get with turf often seems to be inferior. It is often lumpy, full of pests or diseases and the general quality of the grass always seems to be poor. If you “have” to lay turf, make sure you follow some basic rules to get the best from it.
Top tips for laying turf
- Prepare the ground thoroughly. Rotavate it, rake it and level it. Remove any stones or roots. The more thoroughly you do this step, the better the lawn will be in the future. Some folk even like to let the soil settle for a few weeks first and then rake flat. This will allow large air pockets to come out and filled before the lawn is laid.
- Buy the turf at the last minute. Buy your turf or arrange for it to be delivered on the day you are going to lay it. It will quickly deteriorate whilst sitting rolled up on your driveway. Lack of light or moisture can kill the grass in a short period of time. If the turf cannot be laid immediately, unroll it and give it a good watering to keep it alive.
- Stagger joints and avoid small pieces at the ends. Stagger the turf joints like brickwork. They will blend in and reduce lines and shrinking. Small pieces will not take as readily as longer strips so avoid leaving these at the ends.
- Try not to walk on the newly laid turf. Plan how you are going to lay the lawn by starting at the far end and working back towards your way out. This is to prevent walking over any previously laid areas.
- Lightly roll the turf after laying. This will help the roots achieve soil contact and make their way into the ground quickly, speeding up establishment.
- Leave the lawn undisturbed after laying. The new grass will need to grow new roots into the soil. To do this is should be left alone for the first few days, at least.
- Keep the new lawn watered. Ideally from rain, but otherwise use a sprinkler to keep the new lawn moist while it is bedding in. Not too much though as this will cause shallow, weak roots.
- Arrange professional aftercare. Lawns laid from turf often come with a variety of problems. Fungal diseases such as red thread can be very severe in new turf. This is often due to the high-thatch habit of Fescue turf grasses. Pests such as chafer grubs and leatherjackets are also a common problem and can cause terrible turf. It can be contaminated with these pests in the fields, then brought to your garden. Also be aware that the soil and turf may sink and shift, to may need top dressing again to fill in any holes and re-level the lawn. A professional lawn care technician will prevent terrible turf. They will help keep your new lawn looking great for years to come.
To avoid terrible turf, sow seed
Many people think turfing a lawn is the easy way to a new lawn, but that can be far from the truth. It is much more expensive and you often don’t get a decent lawn in the end. With grass seed you know exactly which grass your are laying and you will get a much better result in the long run.