Buying cheap turf is like purchasing a lotto ticket. There’s only a very slim chance you’ll end up as a winner. Cheap turf is cheap for a reason – it’s often an inferior product, usually well past its use-by date. It will probably need replacing sooner rather than later, which makes it a dodgy purchase. Buy cheap and the odds are you’ll lose out in the long run.
We have a saying in the Turf business:
Buy Cheap, Buy Twice!
The Real Cost Of Cheap Turf
The price tag might look good when you first see that cheap turf at your local garden centre, landscape supplies store or hardware store, and the grass might appear OK…from a distance. First appearances can be highly deceiving. That cheap turf, which you hope will bring new life to a barren patch, is probably about to die! Many garden and hardware retailers will slash instant turf prices if the product has been sitting around for a while and is close to expiring – in the same way a supermarket will reduce perishable products ‘for quick sale’.
So, that ‘bargain’ turf is already past its prime before you even lay it. And there’s the rub. No matter how old it is, you still have to lay it. You still have to do the work of preparing the site, unrolling the turf and watering it once it’s down. But if the turf is no good to begin with, you’ll have to do that all over again when it’s time to replace the turf. It’s a waste of time, as well as a waste of money. A ‘double’ cost, if you like.
What to look for when buying cheap turf
Don’t let that appealing price tag be the only thing you look at before you purchase cheap turf. You need to cast a critical eye over the product in front of you and see if it will be worth your money and effort.
The most obvious sign that this cheap turf is actually “cheap ‘n’ nasty” turf is discolouration. Unroll some of the turf; if the grass appears yellow, or even brown, move on. Most importantly make sure it is not heating up, a sure sign it is past its used by date. That grass is on the way out, and no amount of watering after you’ve laid it will change that. You already know that yellow and brown patches on your existing lawn are hardly a good thing – why pay money to take this turf home and replace patches with patches?
Remember – buy cheap, buy twice.
Another way to tell if cheap turf is not the real deal is to give it a gentle shake. If a substantial amount of grass comes loose, this is another indication that the turf is well past its best. Fresh turf should have a strong root network which holds the grass firmly in place. Older turf, with an aging root network, will shed grass at a much greater rate than should be expected.
Or you can buy the good stuff
Garden centres and hardware shops sell instant turf. They also sell thousands of other products, therefore it’s reasonable to assume that keeping turf in prime condition isn’t always high on their list of priorities. A turf supplies professional on the other hand specialises in instant turf, and because they sell so much of it, they always have fresh stocks, which make for a healthy lawn. Buy turf direct from the turf farm and you will pay more at the point of purchase, you will save money and time in the long run through buying a quality product that will last.
You really do get what you pay for when you buy cheap turf. It’s a gamble – one that’s unlikely to pay dividends in the long run. When you see cheap turf, ask yourself why it’s so cheap. Take a good look at it, and don’t forget to do the shake test. For a certain winner, invest in quality turf. Pay a little more now and save a LOT more in the future!