How to Lay Turf – Tips on Laying Turf Yourself

July 2, 2012

How difficult can it be? Surely laying turf is as simple as unrolling carpet? Not quite! But, with the right advice, laying turf is something you can do yourself with excellent results. So, how do you lay turf?

The growing appeal of groundwork

As impatient as you are to transform that bare patch into a lush, green oasis, you have to do some groundwork before you can start laying turf. The flatter and smoother the site, the better your new instant lawn will look, levelling off the site is a great idea.

Weeds can pop up anywhere, anytime. A thorough application of quality weedkiller will minimise the chances of weeds making an unwelcome appearance on your new lawn. While you’re at it, get rid of rubbish, stones or anything that might stop your turf from growing properly.

One more thing. Drainage. If your yard does not allow for a natural water flow away from your house, patios etc, you should have some sort of drainage system in place, otherwise your hard work and investment will be swamped by excess water – that’s the sort of irrigation your new lawn just doesn’t need.

Turf & soil: the perfect connection

So, what top soil should you use? Invest in nutrient-rich topsoil; it’s the base for any good lawn. Don’t settle for topsoil that is dirt-cheap – pun intended. Pay a little more for topsoil and enjoy a healthier, more attractive lawn.

How and where you spread the topsoil will determine whether the area is flat or undulating, something to take into account when working out how much soil to order. Just be sure to have at least 50mm of good soil under your new lawn at a minimum. By ordering the incorrect amount you may find yourself spreading your topsoil too thin on flat areas after you’ve created that ‘rolling hills’ look (learn more about top dressing lawns)

To get your turf at the same level as your hardscaped features e.g. concrete or paving, a general rule is to spread the topsoil to about 25mm below the height of any hardscaped area. Once the topsoil is spread, tread it lightly to even it out but don’t over-compact the soil – this could affect the initial connection between the roots in the turf and the topsoil, and this connection is key to the establishment of your turf.

Grass ain’t grass

Selecting the right grass type comes down to more than choosing cheap turf, or what you think looks nice. When laying turf, you must consider several other factors including how shaded or sunny the area will be now or in the future as the gardens grow; how much watering you want to do; or even how much water is available to you. Some grass types require less care and attention but look great, some hard wearing lawns such as Sir Walter or Wintergreen Couch look as nice and do a great job in busy backyards. A reputable Brisbane turf supplies company will discuss these things with you, and their advice is gold. Take it!

Lawn preparation

Once you’ve done the groundwork, you can finally start laying turf. Never stretch the turf, and ensure there is good contact between the underside of the turf and the topsoil. Start by laying a strip around all the borders to your area and then cut the rest in. Lay turf across a slope, not down it, and lay along the longest border if you can, this helps keep it straight. Try to use full slabs as much as possible and try to avoid small off-cuts filling gaps.
After the turf has been laid, water immediately, and give the turf a roll with a roller to bed the roots down into the soil and push any end pieces back into the ground. Give the turf a regular daily watering until it is well established for a minimum of 2 weeks. Once you’ve reached that stage, try a deep watering once a week. Of course, the type of grass you choose will dictate how much watering you have to do; your turf supplier will tell you just how much. Weather conditions will also play a major factor.

If some turf edges have not knitted with the topsoil after several weeks, or if they continue to ‘stand up’ a little, you can walk over the lawn to press down those stray edges; mowing will also take care of this. As for mowing? All lawns need mowing, and your turf will be ready for its first cut after it is well established. Be a little patient though – it is better to wait than rush in. A general rule of thumb is to mow it as soon as it looks like it needs it, especially if it has gone to seed, this means it is well established.

Now you know how to lay turf, the question is should you lay your own turf?

While laying turf yourself is a task made easier with thorough preparation, it’s still one of the simplest jobs around the home. Rolling out the turf, like all things green, can make for a rewarding day in the garden. However, without proper care early on, you risk your turf turning brown, normally caused by the lack of water early on, especially in summer. Now you know how to lay turf but if you’re not a patient, successful green thumb, it might be smarter to leave it to the experts.

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