The best lawns start with the best preparation and it’s the same with turf as seed.
To begin with, the ground needs to be cleared of all old vegetation including grass, debris and weeds. Stones larger than 25mm and debris must be cleared from the site. Break up and turn over the soil to a depth of 150mm. Poor soils should be improved by incorporating organic materials like manure or compost at this time. Heavy soils will also benefit from the addition of lime-free sand to improve drainage.
Levelling and firming the soil comes next. Dragging a long straight object like a plank or old wooden ladder will assist in levelling and don’t forget to allow a slight slope away from buildings to encourage surface water to drain away from, rather than towards property. Firming, a time and energy consuming operation, is essential and is carried out best by walking up and down the entire area on ones heels. The hollows are then filled by raking in loose soil. This process should be performed three times, each in a different direction. On completion, it should be possible to walk normally on the surface without leaving any indentations. The surface is then lightly raked to a fine tilth incorporating a granular fertilizer. Don’t forget that this will be the last time you can apply feed beneath the turf.
Laying turf can be safely carried out at any time of the year except for when the ground is hard with frost or water-logged. In hot weather, turf should be watered as it is laid. Unroll the turf carefully and lay it in position ensuring that you do not stretch the sward. Always work forward in rows, overlapping joints in each row as in bricklaying. Keep checking that the edges are tightly butted together, and use a tamper to ensure that all the underside is in contact with the soil. Working from boards is easier and prevents damage to the freshly laid turf. Use a sharp knife or edging tool to trim off excess at edges and curves. An old hosepipe can be used as a guide for creating sweeping curves.
Once all the turf is laid, water immediately and continue daily at the rate of 5 litres per square metre per day until the turf has established. This can be checked by trying to lift a corner of the turf to see if it has taken root. Once it has, you can start to mow the new lawn, initially with the mower blades at the highest setting, then lowering gradually for subsequent cuts.