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How to Lay Turf – Laying new turf to replace a lawn

If your grass has gone passed revival then the laying of your new turf will have to be done sooner rather than later and it’s important to set aside enough time to make sure you get it right. Although it may seem like a big job, it really isn’t, and a fresh layer of turf in autumn will help to bring your garden back to life ensuring it’s thriving in time for next summer.

Remove the Existing Turf

Laying TurfThe only way that fresh turf will stay as green and healthy as when it’s delivered is if you lay it almost immediately onto a smooth, flat, firm surface where drainage is good.

Although turf can be laid at any time of the year the best seasons are definitely spring and autumn as these seasons generally avoid problems of ice and flooding.

Before you lay any new turf it’s essential to remove any grass that you already have in your garden. If it’s only a small area then it’s easy enough to use a spade to under-cut it but if you’re going to be laying turf over a large area then it will be a lot easier, quicker and less strenuous if you hire a turf stripper.

Soil and drainage

Having stripped the turf, it is a good opportunity to improve the underlying soil. Dig over and break up any clods of soil. If it’s a heavy soil then consider adding grit or sharp sand to open it up.

A rotavator or tiller will be useful at this stage to break the soil into a fine tilth. For larger lawns it is well worth hiring a rotavator over the weekend.

With badly waterlogged soils, this is your opportunity to install some land drains and a sump to take off excess water.

Level and Smooth the Soil

Once all of the grass, leaves, rocks and other debris have been removed from your garden it’s time to smooth the ground before you can lay your new turf. Start by thoroughly raking the area paying attention to the level.

A plank attached to rope and dragged over is a great aid to levelling a larger lawn. Once level use your feet to tread it down or alternatively you could hire a roller to flatten and firm large areas of loose soil. Then lightly rake over the surface, to loosen just the surface.


Before laying the turf it’s imperative to fertilise the ground in order to ensure the turf gets the nutrients that it requires to survive when it been laid.

A general purpose fertiliser like growmore or fish, blood & bone applied at 100 grams per square metre evenly spread applied to the ground will also help the roots of the grass become established far more quickly meaning that it has more chance of surviving the winter.

Laying turf

When ordering the turf for your garden you should add an extra 5% onto your order so that you can allow for any waste. You should also make sure it’s laid within 24 hours of delivery in order to ensure it’s in the best condition.

Before laying the turf you should create an outline in your garden using builder’s twine and wooden pegs; in order to make sure the turf is laid precisely. Start around the border, overlapping any rounded edges and trimming the excess turf once it’s all been laid. Lay in a cross bonded pattern like house bricks.

Make sure you lay the turf in strips and once the entirety of the ground has been covered use a small roller to help it bed into the soil and to encourage the roots to embed themselves into the ground.

Watering New Turf

It’ll take a while for the turf to become fully established and until it reaches this stage it’s essential to keep it well watered. You should water newly laid turf immediately and then at least twice a week in order to help it along, once the lawn has settled into the ground you won’t need to water it as often.

If you encounter a particularly dry spell then make sure you water it more regularly otherwise you could find yourself laying more turf next year.

Following all of these simple steps will ensure that your garden remains looking healthy throughout the year, no matter what the weather throws at it.

Article basis supplied by Turfland, a British company who specialise in the supply of top quality turf to professionals and home owners alike. They supplied the turf for several episodes of Alan Titchmarsh’s Love Your Garden on ITV.

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