Laying turf is a great way to kickstart your backyard makeover. To get a lawn that is well established, here’s a quick list of what you will need; how to prep your soil; how to lay turf and what to do after.
What You Need
The tools required to lay turf are minimal. You’ll need:
A Long Knife
A Garden Hose
Ensuring you have a good topsoil for your turf to grow into is paramount. If your topsoil is of good quality and the right depth, you’ll have a healthier, thicker and more drought resistant turf. Poor or poorly prepared soil will have the opposite effect.
When ordering your turf, to know how much you need, get the area of your backyard, then add five percent on for shaping.
Removing Your Existing Lawn
It’s advisable to kill your lawn before you remove it, so use a non-selective weed killer that is suitable for grasses. It may take up to two weeks to fully take effect, but once it has, you can remove the lawn with a turf cutter (hireable from any outdoor centre).
If you’ve only got a small patch to do, you can use a shovel to remove your turf, but it is hard work and may result in an uneven surface.
Preparing Your Soil
Ideally, you’ll have 150mm of good topsoil which your turf can grow into. It needs to be free of debris, and clear of weeds. Buying a lawn seeding specific topsoil is advisable.
Tilling or digging over your soil is essential to enable your soil to aerate. If it’s too compacted, the turf roots won’t be able to penetrate. Once loosened, you should lightly re-compact it. This can be done by walking over it twice in different directions (e.g. North to South, East to West).
Then it’s just a matter of giving the surface a light raking, ensuring the whole area is level. If your topsoil is uneven, your lawn will be uneven.
Finally, give your prepared soil a good watering. This will help settle the soil, and also provide a good amount of moisture for your turf to grow into. This should be done two days before laying.
Laying Your Turf
Most turfs should be laid immediately, so schedule your delivery for a time that you’re ready to work.
Ideally you want to start with a straight edge (to make the rest of the process easier), butting the ends of each sheet firmly together. Always push your turf into each other – never grab an end and pull. Subsequent rows should be done like brickwork, staggering the joints. Avoid walking directly on your newly laid turf by using planks.
For shaping the turf around the edges, it can be cut with a long knife, a cutting spade or a handsaw. Once laid, use a rake to gently work your turf into the topsoil.
Ensuring your new turf has enough water is the most important job post installation. You need to water thoroughly and regularly until the turf is firmly rooted. Give it a good soak every day, and check on the roots’ progress by gently lifting an edge of turf.
Once the roots have taken hold you can ease the watering back a bit, but still soak the lawn every couple of days until the lawn has fully established itself. Once it is at home, the watering schedule recommended for your variety of turf will suffice.
Your turf will be okay with light traffic almost immediately, which means you shouldn’t hesitate bringing out the mower. Most people will avoid this for far too long, but it encourages growth and establishment. You can start within three days of laying your turf, provided it doesn’t kick up any edges. Be sure not to take too much off. Aim for ¼ of the blade length initially, then step up to 1/3 after the first couple of mows.
If you’ve been careful with your preparation and installation you’ll have a beautiful lawn on your hands once it’s established.