The arrival of summer brings nicer weather and the want to be outside more, whether this is entertaining friends over a BBQ, doing some gardening or having some alone time whilst sunbathing.
As a result of this, our attention is being more drawn to our garden than ever, leaving us to notice all the little imperfections. In some cases, the imperfections may be quite big, making you want to re-turf your whole garden.
But how do you go about turfing a lawn? What type of turfing should you choose? What’s the aftercare like after turfing a garden?
We’ve written a full guide answering all these questions and more:
- Types of turfing
- Turfing a lawn: step-by-step guide
- Can you turf over an existing lawn?
- What time of year is it best to lay turf?
- Turfing a lawn: aftercare
Types of turfing
When it comes to turfing a lawn, you may be surprised to find out there’s not just one standard turfing to pick from and there’s actually a wide variety, with certain ones better for different garden conditions.
For example, if you have a north facing garden, which is shaded throughout most of the day, you will need to choose a type of turf suited to this.
Also, you will need to consider how much upkeep you’re happy to do and whether there’s a lot of activity that goes on in your garden – if you have young kids, we know activity levels do tend to be quite high, which could result in more upkeep needed.
Traditional turf, also known as trident turf, is the most popular type of turfing available. It’s a great ‘all-rounder’ with it being very versatile and suitable, not just for back gardens, but also for landscaping and golf courses.
Trident is also easy to root and requires very little maintenance, making it good for those that want a minimal hassle garden lawn. It’s also very popular due to its ability to be able to stand up to a lot of harsh weather conditions and doesn’t lose its green colour in the wintertime – an essential for UK weather.
Fine turf is another type of turfing, but it’s less popular due to its fine texture, with it mainly being suited to golf and bowling greens as well as more luxury garden lawns.
It’s grown on natural sands and requires high levels of maintenance, explaining why it’s not so popular for a standard garden.
Shade tolerant turf
As the name suggests, this particular type of turfing is great for gardens that receive a lot of shade and as a result of this may struggle to grow.
It’s greener than other types of turf, which it keeps all year round, and is grown for at least 18 months before being harvested. It will require fertiliser to be applied little and often, with a need for lots of watering – just make sure there are no trees planted nearby, as these may consume the majority of the water, leaving not enough for your lawn.
Wildflower turfing will be a good option for you if you’re wanting to have a garden that will become a good habitat for different species of wildlife and insects, such as bees or butterflies.
Wildflower turf can grow well in less fertile conditions and is pretty low maintenance, requiring a few cuts each summer and kept tidy during the winter. It’s also an easier option compared to wildflower seeds, with these being difficult to root and become a fully established lawn.
Rhizomatous Tall Fescue (RTF) Turf
RTF is another type of turfing that can grow in harsh conditions. With its long root, it’s able to survive a drought or waterlogged conditions. With RTF turf being very resilient and hard-wearing, it’s ideal for public walkways or goals on a football pitch.
RTF is a less popular turfing type for garden lawns as it’s quite expensive in comparison to the other types and most people don’t need to have extremely durable grass for their lawn.
Turfing a lawn: step-by-step guide
When it comes to turfing a lawn, it’s very important that you take good care and do it correctly, as your garden is something that you will look at every single day and should last you for a very long time.
If you’re short on time and have the funds to do so, you can hire professional landscapers to do the turfing, but this can be an expensive option, so we’ve written a step-by-step guide to help you along with turfing a garden yourself…
How do I prepare my lawn for turfing?
The first, and arguably most important, step of turfing a garden is to prepare the lawn. The saying ‘every house needs a good foundation’ very much applies to gardens too – don’t prepare correctly and you’ll have an uneven, bumpy lawn.
Removing existing lawn
The first step of preparing your lawn for turfing is to remove the existing lawn. There are two quick ways you can go about doing this:
- Lifting the turf – For this, you will need turf cutters, which are widely available to hire, and these can remove up to 500 metres of turf per hour. They’re also able to cut to a depth of 40mm. A benefit of using turf cutters is that any turf taken up can be used to make compost
- Weed killer – For this, you will just need a non-selective weed killer that’s suitable for killing grass. This will kill all grass and weeds within 2 weeks, so is more time-consuming than using turf cutters but requires less skill and is more cost-effective
Alternatively, you can use the below method of more in-depth preparation, which will require more time and effort on your behalf but may lead to a better and more even result:
- Use a garden spade or edger to under-cut and remove all the existing grass from your garden. This is the step where you can hire some turf cutters to remove the grass a lot quicker
- Next, dig over the garden until you have a depth of about 15cm and remove all debris, large stones, weeds, etc. In this step, once you’ve removed the weeds by hand, you could use some weed killer to stop any existing weeds you haven’t seen and any weeds from developing
- Now you have removed all the weeds and debris, you will want to make sure your garden is level. We have already written an article on this, so we won’t bore you with the details here
- Once your garden is level, you will want to firm down the soil by rolling it lightly with a garden roller. If you don’t own a garden roller, you could simply tread down the soil with your feet
- After you have your garden evenly compacted, sprinkle over some pre-turf fertiliser and rake it through the soil. This fertiliser is to help the rooting process, which will result in your turf becoming established a lot quicker
Turfing a lawn: Laying the turf
Now you’ve got your garden prepped and ready to go, it’s time to actually lay the turf. Before reading out guide on how to do this, please note that we have assumed you’ve decided on the sort of turfing you want and have already ordered it and had it delivered.
Okay, time to lay the turf…
- Unroll and lay your chosen turf along all the edges of your garden first, starting on the longest edges of the turf. If you have paving or stepping stones around the edge of your garden, don’t lay the turf right up next to them and instead start slightly inward of them. If you have a circular garden, start in the middle of your garden and work outwards
- Continue to lay your turf strips from left to right and make sure you stagger the joints, in the same way that a builder would with brickwork, to avoid a big line down your garden where all the joints are. Make sure you don’t stretch the turf to help avoid any visible gaps. If there are some gaps, sprinkle top soil over them and brush with a soft broom so the soil is evenly spread
- If there are any dips in the turf, place some top soil underneath the turf into the dip and flatten the turf back other the top to give the illusion of an even garden
- Once you have finished laying the turf on your whole garden, use your garden roller again to press down and level the turf, allowing it to bed into the soil
- Next, it’s time to water the lawn. A sprinkler will be the most ideal option, as it will offer a more even coverage, but, if you don’t have one, you can water it by hand
Turfing a lawn: Laying to a curve
If you’ve read our step-by-step guide and are concerned that this only applies to a garden with straight edges, don’t panic – you can still lay your own turf, you’ll just have to follow a slightly different method.
When laying the turf along a curve, you will need to overlap the turfs to form the curve and then trim away the excess.
As you lay your turf towards an edge, you will need to adjust which pieces of turf you’re using as you approach the edges to make sure you’re not finishing on a small section each time, meaning you’ll have a line of joints.
Can you turf over an existing lawn?
You may be surprised to know that you actually can lay a new turf over the top of an existing lawn, but experts don’t recommend it and there’s a good reason why they don’t…
If your existing lawn isn’t level, then putting new turfing over the top isn’t going to solve the problem. The only way to ensure an even and smooth garden is to properly prepare the soil before laying the new turf.
By laying a new turf over an existing lawn, you’re not dealing with the potential existing pests living in your lawn. Instead, you’re exposing your new turf to being eaten away by these pests.
Once again, the only way you can resolve this is to properly prepare your soil, which will help to make the soil inhabitable to these creatures.
If your current lawn is struggling with weeds, then laying a new turf over it isn’t going to solve the problem. Instead, it’s best to take up your current lawn, manually de-weed your garden and put down weed killer, before then laying your new grass onto the soil.
As your current lawn is already laid, it will have established roots with the soil compacted around them. Laying a new lawn on top may mean the new roots struggle to break through the existing grass and become fully rooted into the ground.
Presence of disease
Your lawn is an ecosystem and so, just like any ecosystem, will contain bugs and bacteria that can cause disease. Putting a fresh lawn on top of this is exposing it to these bugs and isn’t setting it up well for survival.
What time of year is it best to lay turf?
The best time of year to lay a new turf is mid-autumn but can be laid from this time right up until late winter, providing the soil isn’t too wet or frozen. In this time period, your garden requires very little mowing, allowing the new turf to lay undisturbed for a longer period of time, meaning it can properly root into the ground.
If you lay your turf too close to spring, your garden will experience dry spells and will need more mowing, meaning it will undergo too much stress before it’s had to chance to become fully rooted.
Also, if you lay your new lawn in spring, you will need to make sure you’re manually feeding it at the right times, in order to allow the grass to fully root.
Turfing a lawn: aftercare
When you have finished turfing a garden, the work doesn’t end there. In fact, the aftercare of turfing a lawn is arguably more important than the turfing itself. You don’t want to see all your hard work put to waste because you haven’t cared for it properly.
How long before you can walk on new turf?
Once you have laid your turfing, you will need to wait for about 3 weeks for it to root before you’re able to walk on it. You will also have to wait until the turf has become rooted before you can mow your lawn.
To test whether your turf has rooted, try gently lifting the edges. If it doesn’t come up, then the lawn has rooted, and you can now walk on it and mow it. Make sure you set your lawnmower blades to the highest setting, though, so you’re taking off as little height as possible.
Do you need to water new turf if it rains?
You need to make sure you’re watering your new lawn every single day and that the top 10cm of soil is wet. If it has rained, it’s up to you to decide whether the soil beneath your lawn is damp enough.
On a rainy day, you will probably find you don’t need to water your soil, especially if it has rained all day, but as we’ve said, you should always check it yourself to be sure.
We also recommend watering your lawn in an evening or a morning, as it’s the cooler part of the day and so the water is less likely to evaporate, allowing the water to be properly absorbed into the soil.
How long does turf take to root?
Turf roots can take up to 6 weeks to fully develop a strong rooting system, with a shallow root being able to form within 2 weeks.
You will want to make sure that you’re laying your turf when there’s no frost forecast. This is because once the ground is frozen, the grass won’t be able to continue to develop a root system and so will never properly root.
That’s everything you need to know about turfing a lawn, including the different types, our step-by-step guide and the best time of year to lay a new lawn. Do you have a question to ask? Or maybe some insight to give? Whatever it is, don’t hesitate to get in touch !
Millie is a perfectionist with a passion for property and writing articles. You’ll find her researching the latest housing trends and the newest up and coming areas worth investing in.