How To Lay Lawn Turf: A Step-by-Step Guide
Is there anything better than the smell of freshly cut grass from a beautiful English lawn? For many of us, a perfect lawn may feel like a somewhat unachievable dream, the thought of turning what may be an overgrown mess into a tranquil and useable space can feel rather overwhelming. However with the correct tools and allowing plenty of time, this dream can be realised.
This step-by-step guide will help you understand how to lay the perfect lawn with the process of installation from ground preparation through to laying the turf in manageable stages. Read on, or for a more visual guide - scroll down to our turfing guide videos.
Step 1: Tools you will need
As with any practical project, having the right tools you have at your disposal will make the project a lot easier. When carrying out a turfing project the essentials are:
- Spade (Turf Cutter and Rotavator)
- Stanley Knife, with spare blades
- Wooden Planks (Scaffold Boards)
Step 2: Clearance
Firstly, to ensure a flat and weed free base the old lawn needs to be removed.
If working with a small lawn this can be removed using a sharp flat spade, the best method is to skim off just the grass and thatch, leaving as much of the earth down as possible.
For larger areas a turf cutter is recommended, these can be hired from any good tool hire shop.
Pro Tip: Add the old lawn to your compost heap, once broken down the nutrient-rich soil is great for beds and planters.
Step 3: Rotavation
Rotavating is the process of turning over the existing earth, this again can be done by hand using either a spade or pitchfork, ideally rotavation needs to be carried out to a depth of at least 10 CM, this will ensure the subsoil is soft enough to be easily levelled as well as providing a good base for the turf to root and establish.
As with clearing the old lawn, for larger areas the hiring of a rotavator or tiller is recommended.
Pro Tip: For waterlogged areas, or gardens with high levels of clay, use a rotavator to mix sharp sand through the earth.
Step 4: Levelling Sub Soil
The freshly rotavated soil now needs to be level, the idea here isn’t to create a perfect final level, the newly imported topsoil will be used for that. At this point, the main focus should be on getting the area fairly flat as well as sifting out weeds, broken roots and any other debris left in the ground.
Once levelled with a rake, it’s important to lightly compact the earth, this can be done by “pigeon stepping” up and down the garden. Once stage 4 is completed you should be left with a fairly flat clear surface ready for fresh topsoil to be imported.
Pro Tip: Invest in a landscaper's rake; these have strong blades and a wide head making the job a lot easier.
Step 5: Importing Topsoil
When preparing an area for turfing it’s important to use sandy, screened and nutrient-rich topsoil with a British Standard Certification. Our London Lawn Turf Topsoil or Rolawn’s Blended Loam Topsoil both work really well when used under the turf.
Depending on the quality of the existing earth in your garden will depend on how much topsoil is required, as a minimum we recommend a depth of 25 mm. If your garden's primarily made up of wet and clayey earth, it’s advisable to increase the amount of sandy topsoil imported.
Pro Tip: Use the Topsoil Calculator section of our website to work out exactly how much you will need.
Step 6: Levelling Topsoil
As with step 4, the best method to level your fresh topsoil is with a landscapers rake, push and pull the mounds of topsoil around the garden, until all dips and divots are filled and you can begin to see a level surface, the finished product should be a perfectly flat and even surface.
Throughout the entire process of turf installation this step is probably the most technical, so allow yourself plenty of time to work the topsoil around the garden. At the point, before the final level is created, it’s always a good idea to heal the fresh topsoil in, this is especially important when importing high levels of topsoil.
Pro Tip: If raising the level significantly, it’s always good to leave your levelled soil overnight to settle, this will allow any areas that need topping up to become visible.
Step 7: Installing the Turf
Once you’ve arrived at stage 7, you’ll be pleased to know that the majority of the hard work is behind you, this may seem strange to hear given that there’s the small matter of actually laying the lawn, however, many people will find this the easiest and most satisfying step.
Before bringing the turf through to the garden apply Rolawn Pre-Lawn Establishment Fertiliser to the area. This can be distributed evenly by hand.
Start unrolling the turf, using the longest, straightest edge of your garden as a start point; remember to stagger every other row brickwork fashion.
To ensure you’re carefully prepared levels aren’t disturbed use planks to cross the earth and lay from.
At joints between rolls, push the turf firmly together to prevent any gaps appearing between rolls.
A Stanley knife works really well and offers the most amount of manoeuvrability when cutting the turf to shape.
Pro Tip: For an easy to lay, hardwearing and low maintenance lawn turf use our award-winning Rolawn Medallion Turf.
Step 8: Watering
Now that the turf is down, there’s one final task to carry out, skipping this point of the process could undo all of your hard work up till this point.
The lawn will need watering immediately upon completion, continue doing so for several days until the turf has firmly rooted. If working on a large area on a hot day watering may need to be started before the entire lawn is laid.
The absolute best time to water your lawn is early in the morning or later in the afternoon when its cooler, this allows more water to pass down to the root systems before its evaporated.
If laying in the winter or during periods of heavy rainfall adjust watering accordingly.
Pro Tip: Buy a sprinkler for even water distribution, or alternatively enquire about our irrigation installation service.
Once your lawn’s been installed, we recommend keeping off it for between 10-14 days, after this period it should be ready for a very light cut. For further information on aftercare going forward please view our aftercare guides.
Most Popular Products
Our most popular products bought together to lay a new lawn include:
How to Lay Lawn Turf Video
We have also published the following videos, showing you how to lay lawn turf, as well as the ground preparation steps before laying the turf.
Check out our YouTube channel for more videos.
How to Lay Turf:
We hope you find this content is helpful, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to get in touch with us on 01959 897603. We are an experienced landscaping business specialised in the supply and laying of turf for residential properties as well as commercial. Our clients include the National History Museum, Kensington Roof Gardens and the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.