New Turf - What to Do and When to Do It
Turf is a great way to create an “instant” lawn. However, like many jobs, it is the preparation that is key to making sure that your new lawn is sustainable. It is easy to forget that turf is simply a roll of very young, small and delicate grass plants that have had their roots cut off, been transported (often) a long way in a hot lorry and are about to be put on top of a soil that is probably very different to what it is used too!
Taking the above into account, we can see that we need to plan to make sure we can make best use of our new turf.
The first thing to consider is the site. Make sure that any other activities that will disturb the site have been finished, this may include planting trees, laying electrical cables or water pipes or just fiddling around with paths and patios.
Think of turfing in the same way as you would carpet fitting, it should be done when all the decorating and building is finished. With turfing, if you dig some bits up, it is very unsightly that you will be able to get hold of matching turf so it may look different for many years.
Once the site is clear, we can look at the soil preparation. We may need to import soil and if this is the case, we need to make sure we understand what it is we are buying. This post may help? Click here to view our buying soils guide.
Ideally our topsoil and subsoil should look something like this:
Here we can see the top 150-200mm of topsoil overlying subsoil which is not compacted and has a nice range of cracks and capillaries which are critical for water and air movement and also allow the roots to penetrate to depth.
If your soil has become compacted because of building works etc, now is the time to break it up and let it resettle before the turf is laid.
One of the biggest mistakes made is to deliberately compact the soil by bashing it down or rolling it. This simply destroys what we call the soil structure and creates a substance that will not allow the grass to grow and will prevent water from draining away.
Ideally the surface should be prepared and then left to settle naturally for a long as possible.
If you are turfing yourself, your turf supplier will help you with the measurements to make sure you order the right amount, always order some 10% extra to allow for cutting etc. Be warned that many suppliers will use turf from different sources on different days and this may mean that if you buy it in two different lots, you may end up with different turf.
Once turf is laid, it really does not need to be continuously stamped on the bind it to the soil, remember, these are delicate plants and you do not treat bedding plants with abuse! A very good watering will settle the turf to the soil and yes it should be watered well for the first few days. However, it does not need flooding, all this will do is wash any nutrition away from the roots.
After a few days, the watering can be reduced to just keep things nice and damp, there is no simple calculation as to how much as it will depend on soil type and time of year.
The new turf will need some nutrition to help it establish, there are lots of bizarre myths about not applying any nutrition, but the plants will need help to re-establish their root system at a time when they are very stressed. We do need to be very careful about what we actually apply in the way of fertiliser especially in hot weather, advice should be sought from a reputable supplier.
Start cutting your new lawn as soon as it reaches some 40mm and trim it regularly, no shorter than 25mm and make sure your mower blade is sharp.
As of spring 2019, we are experiencing issues with turf supplies. This is due to the hot weather of 2018 where the establishment of new grass seed was very difficult and this has meant that as of February, turf is in short supply. What is available is very difficult to handle due to the lack of roots that help bind the soil to the grass. We would advise that you have a look at what your supplier has before you commit. This problem should rectify itself as soon as we get some warm growing conditions later in the spring.
Hopefully the above are useful tips, however, Perfect Ground Solutions would be happy to undertake the whole process for you if required.
Contact us on 01920 461 958 or pop us an email firstname.lastname@example.org.