Want a new lawn instantly? The quickest way to get one is to lay turf yourself. Here's how.
Step One: Get Digging
When laying turf, it’s important that it is put on a smooth, firm, flat soil surface with good drainage. You shouldn’t lay it in an area that is over-shaded by trees or buildings. Turf can be laid at almost any time of year providing the soil isn’t waterlogged or frozen – but you’ll get the best results if you lay it in spring or autumn.
Remove any existing grass by under-cutting it with a spade. For larger areas, it’s much quicker and easier to hire a turf stripper.
Dig over or rotovate the area to be turfed to a depth of about 15cm, removing all debris, large stones, weeds and old tree roots.
Step Two: Smooth The Ground
Rake over the ground to produce a smooth surface. Firm down the soil by lightly rolling with a roller (this can be hired) or by treading the area with your feet. Rake over again and repeat the process until the whole area is level, even and firm. A wide rake makes levelling easier. The ground should be firm but not compacted.
Step Three: Fertilise The Soil
Sprinkle granules of pre-turf fertiliser over the area at a rate of 70g per square metre and lightly rake it in. This will help the rooting process so that the turf becomes established more quickly.
Step Four: Lay The Turf
You can buy turf in strips that are just under one metre square. First of all, measure out the area you want to cover and multiply the length by the width to get the area in square metres. Add an extra 5% to allow for any waste. Don’t let your turf sit around – lay it within 24 hours of its delivery or collection. Check the weather forecast and delay laying it if wet or frosty weather is imminent.
Mark out the boundaries of the intended lawn area clearly using a builder’s line and sharpened wooden stakes or pegs. Use a club hammer to drive them into the ground. Lay turf along all the edges first with the longest sides of the turfs parallel to the boundary line – if there is a curved edge you will need to overlap pairs of turfs slightly and then trim off the excess. Cut turfs to size with a longbladed knife or a half-moon edging iron. When turfing up to hard edges, ensure the top of the soil is level with the edging before laying the turf. This leaves the surface of the lawn above the surface of the surrounding hard surface so that you can mow up to the edge.
Lay the turf in rows across the site working forward from a straight side. Stagger the joints, as in brickwork, from row to row. Butt the ends and edges tightly together without stretching the turf to ensure there aren’t any gaps anywhere. Use a board as a platform to work from, placed on top of turfs you have just laid.
If you spot a hollow in any of the turf, peel it back and fill the gap beneath with topsoil before replacing it. If there are gaps in between your pieces of turf, sprinkle some fine topsoil into them and brush over with a soft broom to ensure even coverage.
Roll your finished lawn with a light roller to level the turf and bed it into the soil. Tidy the edges of your new lawn with a long-bladed knife or half-moon edging iron. Curved edges can be created by marking out the line with a hosepipe or a trail of silver sand.
Step Five: Repairing Patches
If you’ve got bare patches in your lawn, you can use turf to fill them in.
Cut out the strip of lawn with its bare patch, making sure you match it to the same size as the roll of replacement turf – use a half-moon edging iron. Undercut with a spade to remove the old turf strip.
Add topsoil or remove some soil to achieve the correct soil level using the thickness of the new turf as a guide. Ensure the soil surface is level and scatter on pre-turf fertiliser.
Lay the turf in position, checking that it’s level with the surrounding lawn. If there are any slight mounds or hollows, peel back the turf and either remove some soil or fill with a little topsoil before replacing the turf. Butt the edges of the new turf tightly to the edges of the existing lawn.
Water the turf thoroughly and keep well watered until it’s established.
If the damaged area is at the edge of a lawn, you can carry out the same repair process and trim the edge of the turf with a long-bladed knife or half-moon edging iron.
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