Offering Garden Care Services in Cheshire, Staffordshire and North Wales
31 Mar 2020

How to Lay Turf

Follow the steps below for detailed guidance on successfully laying turf.

1. Planning your new lawn

It helps to think ahead about the shape and size of lawn you are creating, how much turf and topsoil you may need and whether you will need to order a skip to remove any old turf.

Ground preparation should be completed in advance to ensure turf can be laid out within our recommended time frames:

  • Spring/summer – roll out turf immediately
  • Autumn/winter – roll out within 24 hours

Laying turf is a highly time-sensitive task.

Turf can be laid all year round, however frosty conditions should be avoided and laying turf in extended periods of hot and dry weather will require additional care and attention.

Recommended tools for laying turf

Only a few tools are needed to lay turf:

  • Wheelbarrow
  • Rake
  • Long knife or old hand saw
  • Spade or fork
  • Some scaffolding planks
  • Garden hose and sprinkler

You may also need a rotovator and, if you’re replacing an existing lawn, a turf cutter or weed killer.

2. Ground preparation

Preparing the ground for turf laying may take some time, but it is time well spent, to create a beautiful, healthy lawn for years to come.

Removing an existing lawn

If you have an existing lawn this needs to be removed first. We do not recommend laying turf on existing grass, as this will prevent the new turf from rooting well. It’s also possible for weeds to come through the new turf. The lawn is likely to deteriorate over time if the reason for relaying the lawn is not addressed.

You can use either of the following two options to remove an existing lawn.

Removing an existing lawn using a turf cutter

  • Lifting the turf – turf cutters are available from all reputable hire shops and can be used to remove an existing lawn. One of the benefits of this method is that any turf you take up can be used to make compost, either at home or by your local authority if you place it in a garden waste skip at your local household waste recycling centre.
  • Weed killer – treat the existing lawn using a proprietary non-selective weed killer suitable for killing grasses. This also will help prevent weeds and weed grasses coming up through your new turf. For full effectiveness you may have to leave this for approximately 14 days.

Checking the quality and depth of your topsoil

Once the area is clear and free of weeds, ensure you have a minimum topsoil depth of 100mm, ideally 150mm, which is levelled and raked to a fine tilth.

A soil improver can be used to enhance existing soil. If you need to purchase topsoil, find out how much you will need using our product calculator.

Levelling the ground

Lightly compacting the soil

Levelling is one part of the preparation that it’s really worth getting right to help you get the best performance from Britain’s Finest Turf. Putting in the effort now will pay dividends by creating a level and aesthetically pleasing lawn that is easier to mow and maintain.

If this is the first time you have laid a lawn, you may not realise that when the ground looks level to the eye there are likely to be areas that still need work.

Gently walking up and down the area is the best way to identify irregularities. Through your feet, you can sense the soft and hard ground, dips and raised patches, in a way that is not possible with machinery.

  • Begin by digging over or rotovating the soil to loosen it up.
  • Remove any surface stone, clods, other debris and perennial weeds.
  • Once loosened the soil should be lightly compacted by walking over the whole area and then again at right angles to the first direction.
  • Break up any heavily compacted areas using a fork and fill any dips, lightly compacting.
  • Then rake the surface to a fine tilth and make sure that the surface is level.
  • Do not use any heavy equipment on the prepared soil, such as roller, as this will compact the soil too much.

Ideally, you should water the soil a couple of days before your turf arrives. Ensure the soil is moist to a depth of 75mm ready to provide water to the roots of the turf. This also helps the soil to settle and it will need to be raked level again just before the turf arrives.

If you are not using our Turf & Lawn Seeding Topsoil as a base, apply a pre-turfing fertiliser to the soil, incorporating it into the top 25mm of soil, to ensure your new turf is fed properly during its establishment.

3. Laying the turf

Laying Rolawn turf

As outlined above, it is essential to lay your turf as soon as it is delivered.

  • Start laying the turf, preferably along a straight edge, butting closely end to end.
  • On subsequent rows stagger the joints in brickwork fashion.
  • For circular lawns start in the middle and work your way out.
  • Lightly firm down the turves with the head of a rake or piece of wood to ensure good contact between the underside of the turf and the soil.
  • Any remaining cracks can be filled with a light soil (Turf & Lawn Seeding Topsoil is ideal) and tamped down.
  • Trim the ends of the turf with a long knife, hand saw or cutting spade to shape around any trees, paths and beds.
  • Finally, where the outer edges of the new turf are exposed, cover with a light soil to prevent them drying out. This can be removed after a few weeks, once the turf is more established.

Important points to remember:

  • Planks should be placed on your newly laid turf for walking along and working from to ensure the prepared soil remains level.
  • Never use a roller on freshly laid turf as this can cause compaction if used incorrectly.
  • Always push turf into a joint; never stretch the turves by pulling them.
  • Turf must not be allowed to dry out. In hot weather try to start watering areas laid first prior to completing the whole area, then continue to water regularly.


Caring for your new turf

Watering new turf

Follow our guide to caring for newly laid turf to ensure your new turf establishes quickly for a beautiful and healthy lawn.

Ongoing maintenance

Over time, the appearance of your lawn will be affected by its environment and treatment. A healthy lawn requires the right balance of air, food, water and light which can be achieved with an appropriate lawn maintenance programme. For a comprehensive guide please see our Lawn Care pages.

31 Mar 2020

7 Lawn Care Tips

Once you’ve created your ideal outdoor space and chosen the perfect soil and grass for the area, how are you to keep it looking its best? Follow these simple steps and keep a regular maintenance routine to avoid having a dull, weed infested lawn ever again!

Many of these techniques are best applied on an autumn lawn and in the spring, allowing the grass the best chance to repair and grow throughout the summer.

1. Remove weeds, thatch and moss

These pesky items can prevent growth by blocking air and nutrients from getting to the roots.


Weeds in your lawn

These can appear anywhere as there are so many ways they can be brought into the garden, by birds flying over, pets and other animals roaming across the grass or even on your clothing and footwear.

Lawn weeds can grow as either seed heads or flowers, with a wide variety of types that are common in lawns.

The easiest option is to pull out the whole weed, roots included. This can be done by hand or using a tool, however if there is a large quantity try spraying the weeds directly with a low toxicity herbicide.


Lawn thatch removal

This is a layer of organic matter that can build up between the leaves and the soil, consisting of dead leaves, grass and root stems.

The build up creates a blockage, preventing essential moisture and nutrients from penetrating the soil and down to the roots.

These areas are easy to identify as the ground itself will have a spongy feel and the lack of nutrients will cause dull, dead patches on the lawn.

The best solution to remove thatch is with a process called scarification, which is the process of raking and removing mulch from the lawn. There are a variety of tools available, including a lawn scarifier, that will assist with this process.


Moss in a lawn

Mosses are non flowering plants that can cause the worst of lawn problems. They thrive in areas that have excess moisture, shade and low quality turf.

If left undiscovered or untreated the level of moss will increase, reducing the grasses ability to grow. The initial conditions that allow for it to develop include:

  • Shade
  • Clay within the soil
  • Poor drainage
  • High quantities of thatch
  • Drought

In order to remove the moss, the cause for the problem must be identified and reduced. It can then be monitored and maintained with feeding and scarifying.

2. Improve drainage

Lawns with poor drainage often become waterlogged for hours, or even days. This can lead to other complications for your lawns health if drainage is not improved.

The two most common causes for water build up are the soils ability to absorb the water and the landscaping of the garden.

Soil permeability

High levels of clay in the soil, thick areas of thatch, soil compaction and layers of roots can all contribute to prevention of water absorption.

Depending on the extent of the problem, aeration can improve the flow of water and air to reduce surface build up.

Alternatively, changing the nature of your soil can assist in getting the desired drainage levels. This can be done either by using suitable plants for the existing soil type, or gradually adjusting the soil with organic materials.

Garden topography

The shape of your garden should naturally drive water away from the house with a shallow, level slope. Any dips can allow water to pool in one spot, which can damage the grass and roots. It is important that you try to prevent waterlogging in your garden.

When this occurs fitting gutters and drains to direct excess rainfall away from the lawn, adding a selection of wet plants that thrive in water or re-shaping the area and adjusting the gradient are effective ways to improve the drainage.

3. Aerate

This process allows better penetration of air and water to the root zone of the grass, which is essential for gaining the right nutrients to grow. It is a good way to manage lawns that are affected by drought or water logging.

Aeration is performed by creating small holes in the soil at certain intervals and depths, and can be done using a garden fork or specially made tools and machines – even aerating shoes are available!

Lawn aerating shoes with spikes

For most gardens this will only need to be done once every few years. Small patches of lawn can also be treated individually if required.

4. Over-seeding

Over-seeding rejuvenates tired and worn out lawns by covering the entire space with large quantities of seed mixed with fertiliser. This fills in damaged and thinning areas, whilst improving the colour and reducing the chance of weed and moss invasions.

Before the seeds can be applied the lawn will need to be scarified or aerated, mowed and well watered. Spreaders are available to buy to help get an even distribution of seeds.

Once seeded the lawn will need to be kept moist to encourage germination and a top dressing will need to be added to protect the seeds and provide nourishment.

This can be performed annually to maintain a healthy lawn.

5. Mowing and edging

When mowing your lawn it is best to only remove one third of the grasses length. How often you need to mow will depend on the time of year and current weather conditions.

When the weather is colder, especially during frost, the amount of mowing required will be reduced. Summer mowing becomes more frequent with the warmer weather as the grass will begin to grow quicker.

Avoid mowing when the soil or grass are wet as this can cause damage to the lawn and prevent healthy growth in the future. If you have a mower with a roller, the direction of mowing will need to be alternated each time.

Borders and edges can also be maintained and tidied using a half moon edging tool or edging shears after mowing.

6. Feeding and watering

There are a variety of grass feeds and fertilisers available from most gardening shops. The type required will depend on the existing soil and weather in your location. Most of these will have recommended instructions for application, so it is best to follow their guidelines for the product.

Using a Miracle-Gro EverGreen Complete 4 in 1 spreader

Generally it is advised to treat twice yearly, once in the spring with a nitrogen rich lawn feed and once in the autumn with a fertiliser with high levels of phosphate and potash.

Alongside feeding, watering is essential to all lawns. A lawn lacking water will start to change colour and loose its spring, causing the grass to stay flat if walked on.

The amount and frequency of watering will again depend on the type of soil and weather conditions in your location. as you also do not want to over water.

It is best to water the lawn at the beginning of the day in cooler temperatures to get better results.

7. Top dressing

This is used to build up and improve the quality of the existing soil, providing additional drought resistance and drainage, whilst evening out any imperfections.

As with all other maintenance the soil type for your garden will need to be checked in order to get the correct materials and consistency when creating your top dressing.

Using these top tips to regularly check and maintain your lawn along with removing any unwanted surface debris such as dead leaves and twigs, and cutting back any areas that create excess shade, will keep your lawn looking lush and healthy!


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