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Updated : 21/9/2014

Laying Turf

When to lay a lawn

Creating a new lawn from scratch is easy if you pick the right time of year and prepare the site thoroughly.

Turf will quickly establish on soil that is warm and moist - spring is perfect as new turf will also be regularly watered by summer rain. Turf can also be laid in any time after the last frost, but note that new turf needs frequent watering to prevent grasses from being put under stress.

Buying turf

  • A standard piece of turf will cover about one square metre and is best ordered from a reputable supplier who can deliver straight to your door.
  • Choose good quality turf raised from seed - it is available in several grades, which suit different situations: domestic turf contains dwarf perennial ryegrass and is very hard wearing, while fine turf, contains grasses such as bents and fescues and is better for a showpiece landscaping project.
  • In areas of low rainfall, try drought-tolerant turf.
  • When turf arrives, stack rolls in a shady spot and if they appear dry, sprinkle with water.
  • Aim to lay the turf within a day of delivery - if laying is delayed, open the rolls and water. Don't worry if they turn slightly yellow, they should quickly green-up once laid.

Raking tilth

Laying turf

  • Prepare the soil by skimming off any old grass, removing large stones and weeds, and then roughly levelling by flattening humps and filling hollows. Fork over the site and rake level to leave a fine finish. Firm the soil by walking over, placing weight on your heels and rake again. Donít spread fertilizer on the soil before laying as it burns off the fine root hairs. Rake the soil and water well.
  • Lay your first row along a straight edge, slowly unrolling turf to avoid damaging. Butt each piece up closely to the last and ensure good contact with the soil by tamping down firmly with the back of the rake.
  • Lay the next row, making sure the pieces of turf are pushed right up to the first row. Stagger this and subsequent rows in a brickwork pattern until the area has been covered.
  • Lay turf so it runs beyond the area of your new lawn and trim edges with a straight edged board and a half-moon cutting tool. After cutting, scoop up handfuls of soil and put under the edges of the turf to prevent it drying out.
  • Water immediately. If possible set up a sprinkler to water or soak thoroughly with several doses from a watering can. In the first weeks, donít let the lawn dry out, watering twice daily if restrictions allow (usually up to 10am and after 4pm). Wait four weeks before fertilizing and use a complete lawn food, adding a good handful for every square metre


  • Try not to walk on newly laid turf until it has rooted into the soil, which could take several weeks.
  • If the weather is mild over winter the grass will begin to grow.
  • Leave the grass up to four weeks before cutting. Couch leaf should be left to grow up to 30?mm, buffalo and kikuyu up to 50mm. Cut 25% off the leaf length on the first mow, then gradually cut shorter.
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