Reasons for turfing
If you need a new lawn quickly or the levels on your existing lawn are poor, you may want to consider turfing rather than renovation or re-seeding. Hard to treat weeds, poor soil or pest infestation might also persuade you to travel down the turfing route.
Killing off or removing your existing Lawn
If your lawn has existing vegetation on it, that will need removing or killing off before rotovation of the soil can take place. Killing the lawn with Glyphosate (Round-up) at least 4 weeks in advance is an easy way to kill the unwanted vegetation, or alternatively, using a turf cutter or turfing iron to remove the unwanted turf is an option if you like to keep fit! This existing material will need removing and disposing of elsewhere.
Preparation is key and takes the largest amount of effort and time. It is a skill and you should take your time with it. A professional will usually rotovate the soil to a minimum depth of 150mm. Rotovating turns and breaks the soil incorporating air, it brings pests to the surface, when natural predators can then eat them. This is an especially good technique for Leatherjackets or Chafer Grub infestation and rotovating will often be carried out two or more times to relieve the soil of the pest. The rotovating also allows the soil to be raked easily to improve levels and create a tilth for grass roots to grow into. Its during this process the soil can be altered by adding imported material. Gravel and sand to improve drainage, green manure to improve moisture retention.
After the first levelling of the soil, the soil is compressed (not compacted). This helps avoids sinking later. The area being turfed is then re levelled and compressed again. The compression can be achieved using a roller or by treading/heeling. A final level can be achieved with a light dressing of imported material and a final rake. On domestic lawns, levels are made by grading from existing hard edges. This allows mowers to travel freely over the hard materials whilst cutting the lawn to the correct height.
Which turf is the right type of turf?
There are various grades of turf from meadow turf at the bottom to greens (golf green’s) turf at the top. The average garden will require a hard wearing, good looking turf. Turf is made up of a seed mix. The “mix” is, the types of grasses grown and included in the turf, usually because of their intrinsic properties, say drought tolerance, wear tolerance or size of leaf. A simple rule is to avoid mixes that include Annual Meadow Grass (AMG) which is an unsightly weed grass.
Laying your Turf
Turf is laid directly onto the prepared area. It is usual to work over the area just laid but take care and use scaffold boards or similar to spread your weight other wise you will end up with divots in your lawn. Turf should be rolled out and butted up in a staggered formation. When cutting the edges of the turf to fit the external points of your lawn use a knife or an edging iron.
Watering & Aftercare
Once the lawn is laid it should be well watered. Try to soak once a week in normal or average conditions and then allow the grass to grow its roots down to find water. If you are unsure if you are watering enough, check daily, the edges of the turf. If there is any evidence of it drying out water water water!
The next stages of care are very much “suck it and see” If the grass is growing well and needs cutting stop watering and allow the lawn to dry a little. When dry, get the mower on the lawn and if the ground seems firm beneath your feet, cut the lawn. If it sinks or is “squashy” stop and allow to dry some more. Once cut, water again.
How much should I pay for turfing?
This will depend on access. The grade of turf, how much soil is required to be imported and of course how big the area is. The bigger the area, and we are talking thousands of square meters the lower the price, per meter. A simple domestic garden with easy access measuring approximately 100m2 should cost between £13-20 per metre square.