Gardening and Landscaping

How to Create a Lawn Using Turf

June 16th 2021

You want a garden you can be proud of.


We want to help you get there. The quickest way to create a new lawn with natural grass is by laying ready-grown turf. And it’s not as hard to do as you might think.


No matter your experience, by the end of this blog, you’ll know exactly how to lay turf - whether this is your first time gardening or you just need a refresher.


Turfing grass costs more than growing your lawn from seed, but seeds take weeks to germinate and grow, followed by careful nurturing. That makes turf challenging to beat if you need grass that hits the ground running; ready to walk, play and BBQ on in a couple of days. 


In this step-by-step guide, we'll tell you everything you need to know about preparing, laying and maintaining turf - helping you get the healthy lawn with rich green grass you've been dreaming of.


Once you’ve learnt how to lay turf, hire robust and durable equipment from HSS. We’ll provide you with all the tools you need to create the perfect lawn.

How to lay turf: Your step-by-step guide

Ordering turf involves two big decisions: how much, and which type?

  1. Start by carefully measuring the lawn area in square metres. To measure a square or rectangular lawn, you can easily measure the length and width, multiply those numbers by 2 and calculate the area. For a circular lawn, measure the diameter and then calculate the radius by dividing this number by 2. Each turf roll is generally a square metre, 1.64 metres long and 0.61 metres wide, so working in feet and yards will cause miscalculations.
  2. Tell your supplier the size of the lawn, and they’ll advise how many rolls of turf you need.
  3. Now talk to your supplier about how you’ll be using the lawn, and they’ll advise on the best type of turf. Do you want a hard-wearing patch of grass the kids can charge around on without damage or an ornamental lawn that’s purely decorative? Will you be mowing meticulously every few days or only when you have to, and what kind of mower do you use?
  4. Check that the turf you are ordering complies with TGA (Turf Growers Association) standards to monitor the quality. You should always buy from trusted suppliers to get the best quality for your money.

 You may dream of a golf green-style surface, but that type of turf is very high maintenance and impractical for most domestic gardens. Tough, disease-resistant turf with a mixture of ryegrass, fescue and meadow grass is an excellent all-rounder for a hard-working, low-maintenance family lawn.

How to prepare soil for turf
(Credit: CBCK-Christine) URL: https://www.istockphoto.com/

Preparing the ground for laying the perfect turf

Turfing isn’t just laying a ‘carpet’ of grass over a patch of ground. You need the grass to take root and become a living, growing lawn at speed - and that won’t happen unless you first create a suitable seedbed underneath.

 

Remember, the lawn can only be as flat and smooth as the surface it’s lying on. That means thoroughly preparing the ground, and the process is similar to the one described in our HSS blog on growing grass from seed

 

If you want a more straightforward and quicker route to your new lawn, try our article on laying artificial turf.

  • Weed the soil thoroughly to remove all weeds, such as couch grass and bindweed. Either do this by hand or use a non-residual weed killer. Warning: the wrong herbicide will stay active in the soil and kill your grass.
  • Hire an HSS rotavator and give the soil a good going-over. Dig down to a depth of 25 centimetres.
  • Dig in plenty of well-rotted manure or other organic matter to create a soil base that holds moisture. This is especially vital if your soil is sandy. Avoid clumps of un-rotted material as they decay later. You’ll get depressions in your finished lawn when that section of soil subsides.
  • Leave the soil to settle for several days — the longer, the better.
  • Go back and re-weed by hand. Nature never stands still, and new plants are sure to have made themselves at home.
  • Create that all-important level base for your lawn by walking over the area in different directions.
  • Rake the area repeatedly in every possible direction.
  • Rake in general-purpose fertiliser, using around 70 grams per square metre.
  • Give the ground a final raking to create a fine tilth of small loose soil particles: perfect for the turf to take root in.

How to lay turf with ease

The first rule of turf laying is: do it immediately after delivery, ideally within 24 hours. That’s why it’s vital to have all the preparation done in advance. If you have to store your turf, keep it in the shade and remove any plastic wrapping from the pallets.

Ready to start laying your turf?

  • Start laying the turf along a straight edge of the lawn and work across, so that you are facing bare soil. If you are covering a large area or replacing an existing lawn, hire a turf cutter to strip old grass away. 
  • Work off a plank of wood or alternative type of board to avoid denting the newly-laid turf with your feet. The same plank of wood can help apply pressure and flatten it into place.
  • Lay the sods with staggered joints, brickwork style, and keep the joints as close together as possible.
  • To avoid overlaps, trim the turf using a half-moon edging tool or sharp knife. Doing this will ensure clean edges.
  • Have a sharp spade with you to lift and replace sods that need adjusting.
  • Keep a bucket of sandy soil with you, so you can add or remove dirt whenever necessary to keep the lawn level.
  • When all the turf is laid, press it gently but firmly into place to get rid of any air pockets. Hire a light garden roller from HSS, and you’ll ensure a professional finish.
  • Finally, spread a topdressing layer of sandy soil or compost over the whole lawn and work it in using a stiff broom. This fills any tiny gaps and encourages the separate turves to knit together.

Caring for your lawn all year around

Once you’ve learnt how to lay turf and done so, you’ll then need to maintain it to keep your garden looking fresh. 

Your newly-laid turf will need time to anchor to the soil first - about 10 days in the summer. A good way to check this is to turn back the corner of one of the turves, if it is tough to pull and feels rooted, it is likely fine to begin mowing.

turf laying tips
(Credit: CBCK-Christine) URL: https://www.istockphoto.com/

Lawn mowing tips to keep your turf looking its best

Stay off the lawn for a few days after laying it, and start mowing when the grass height reaches around 2.5 to 5 centimetres (or after about 10 days if laid in the summertime). Take care not to remove more than one-third of the height each time as this promotes deep root growth. Grass that is cut too short can enable weeds to grow more easily and can even ruin the health of the lawn.


Lawn mowers can be hired from HSS, should you need fast access to effective mowing equipment and lawn care.

Spring and summer care:

Spring and summer care:Set the blades high for the first few mows. In dry weather and hot weather, especially the warm summer months, additional care and attention may be required. Water your new turf every five to ten days using a hose with a sprinkler attachment to avoid walking on the grass. Water every fortnight at other times. Be careful not to overdo the watering as this can cause shallow roots and encourage weeds. 

What's the best time to lay turf?

You can lay turf successfully at any time of year, but early-to-mid-autumn is the best time. Conditions are likely to be moist and mild, and the grass grows slowly, so not much mowing is needed. That allows the turf to take root undisturbed.


There is a common misconception that turf cannot be laid in winter. However, we're here to reassure you that, provided the ground isn’t frozen, there is no wrong time to create your lawn. Daily watering is vital in laying a healthy lawn, so as long as you stick to this routine, feel free to create your dream lawn at any point.


If you lay your new lawn in spring and summer, it will flourish with regular watering. During these drier months, keeping your lawn well watered is absolutely essential for its continued growth.


You should also mow it regularly and carefully. Here, it’s important to remember that dry soil and premature mowing can stress out the turf and make it root more slowly.

What are the benefits of creating lawn from turf?

As you might expect, laying turf in your garden comes with many perks. Not only is it easy to do, but it also gives your garden a spruce no matter the season.

  1. The quality of turf can be just as good as grass seed when bought from the right place. In fact, you're more likely to achieve a beautiful green lawn using high-quality turf.
  2. Laying turf is quick and easy to install, giving you the desired effect immediately. However, you should avoid walking on the newly-laid lawn for a couple of weeks to allow the turf to bed in.
  3. Turf doesn't wash off slopes, so it's much easier to create lawns on banked areas as opposed to laying grass seed in these areas. 
  4. Turf can be laid at any time of the year. We suggest getting the job done in the cooler spring and autumn months, as the sunlight and rain at this time of year give your lawn the natural boost it needs to thrive. 

Hire your garden equipment from the experts at HSS

Do you have other garden or home improvement jobs in mind? Talk to the experts at your local HSS branch about the equipment you’ll need, and take a look at the wealth of information in the HSS blog.


We’re always happy to help our customers get the most out of our equipment. We make home improvements easy - simply hire your required tools for as long as possible, and we’ll supply the guides you need to get the job done. 

About the Author

Laila Naqvi

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