Laying Turf

The first thing to take into account when laying a turf lawn is that although turf can be laid at pretty much any time of the year, it is best to try and lay it in the spring or autumn months. This is the optimum time to allow the turf to bed in without it having to compete with harsh frosts and also heavy snow falls in winter months.

Although there are a variety of turfs to choose from it is recommended by garden experts that you use meadow turf, as this is best to act as a hard wearing lawn.

Turf is usually delivered in 30cm wide rolls making it ready to lie out in strips and it should be laid as soon as possible upon delivery; preferably within 24 hours.

Preparing the Site

In order to prepare the ground for the turf to be laid it is important to make sure the ground is clear of anything that might prevent the turf from bedding in properly. It is imperative that the ground is cleared of all existing plant growth i.e. weeds, any tree stumps or roots, old bushes etc, and also any rubble or masonry. If you have an existing lawn that is beyond repair then you should remove it in its entirety – do not try and lay a turf lawn over an existing grass lawn as this will lead to no end of difficulties.

It’s important also to make sure that all perennial weeds have been destroyed and chances of them returning minimised as much as possible. Weeds such as dandelions which have so called ‘tap roots’ (roots that go deep underground), stinging nettles, dock leaves etc are all rapid growers so ensuring that both they and their roots are removed is a major step in ensuring your turf lawn is protected and allowed to flourish once laid.

The first row

Beginning at the edge of the site designated for your lawn, lay out the first row of your turf against a straight line. If a straight line is not visible then use two pegs and a piece of string to mark out the line you wish the turf to follow; once the first row has been successfully laid you can begin to lay the others so that they are flush with each other. Tap the turf down into position with the back of a rake; tapping down the turf with a rake flushes out any air pockets.

The Remaining Rows

To avoid damaging your turf use planks across those rows already laid so that you can walk on it to lay the remainder of the turf. You should always rake over the soil of the next row before you lay it; this levels it out and allows you to pick up anything you may have missed in the original clear up. Kneeling on the planks you can then lay the remainder of the turf in a staggered formation as you would build a brick wall. Try not to use small pieces of turf at the ends of what will be your lawn as they are prone to drying out and to damage caused by human traffic.

Tap it down

Once all of the turf has been laid into position you can use the back of your rake again to tap it all into position – again this is designed to flush out any air pockets and also to ensure that the pieces of turf and laid correctly. You can use a light garden roller if you have one but if you have laid the turf in wet conditions it is best to avoid this until the roots of the turf have bedded and knitted together.

Top Dressing

Top dressing is the name for the practice of filling in the joins between the strips of turf with soil – usually a well sieved sandy loam – which is designed to encourage the roots of the turf to spread and take a better hold.


It goes without saying that once your lawn is in place – provided you have not been working in wet conditions – that the lawn should be well watered. Use a watering can or a sprinkler system if you have one and continue to carry out this procedure until the turf has rooted through the top soil.

Shaping the lawn

You may not simply want a rectangular or square shaped lawn and if this is the case you need to shape the lawn using a hose or length of rope for bends in the lawn. Using a half moon edger (so called because the blade is the shape of a half moon) will allow you to cut down to the depth of the turf without damaging and will give you a professional finish.


It is best not to try and cut your new turf lawn until it is about 5cm in height. Use a rotary mower if you have one and cut the turf back to 2.5cm, repeating this procedure four or five times further.

If you follow these steps you should find you have a lawn to be proud of and a lawn that will wear well and withstand some traumatic weather conditions.

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