London Turf Blog

  • Preparing For Your New Turf

    We'll need to answer these three questions first:

    1. Do you know how much turf you need?
    2. Have you prepared your soil for turf?
    3. Do you know how to water and fertilise your soil before the turf arrives?

    If you cannot answer yes to all of these questions, the following information should ensure that your new turf remains as beautiful as it looks the day it arrives.

    General Description

    Your new turf will grow best when your soil is prepared in such a way as to encourage deep, rapid rooting. Buying excellent quality turf is not enough on its own to ensure a beautiful lawn. You must prepare your soil. Poor soil and poor soil preparation will cause the turf to decline and may even result in the death of the turf. Mixing in a pre-turfing fertiliser and adding water to your soil prior to laying the turf will ensure successful establishment.

    Rolawn Turf & Lawn Seeding Topsoil provides the ideal base on which to lay turf. It is blended with Rolawn GroRight® Lawn Establishment Fertiliser to help ensure a lawn gets the best possible start. Alternatively Rolawn Soil Improver can be used to enhance existing soil.

    How much turf should you order?

    1. Draw a sketch of the area you want to lay turf on to.
    2. Draw rectangles over your sketch (they should not overlap). Do this even if your lawn is a circular or oval shape.
    3. Whilst standing in the area due to be turfed, mark out the corners of your rectangles on the ground. In the case of an irregular shaped lawn, adapt the rectangles as closely as possible to the shape of the lawn.
    4. Measure and record on your sketch, the lengths and widths of all your rectangles.
    5. Calculate the area of each rectangle: length (metres) X width (metres) = area (sq. metres).
    6. Add the areas of all rectangles. This is approximately the amount of turf you will need.
    7. Add 5% extra for shaping, cutting, waste etc. Use our Product Calculator to help you work out how much you need.

    How to prepare your soil for new turf

    1. Your soil should be turned over or cultivated to at least 100mm deep, ideally 150mm. It is best to do this when the soil is fairly dry. Rake over to obtain a fine tilth. This will ensure good contact with the turf when it is laid. 'Heel' in well and repeat 2 or 3 times.
    2. Apply a base starter fertiliser to the soil. Follow the manufacturer's instructions. As a general guide, look for a fertiliser containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, for example, a 7:7:7 formulated fertiliser. Rolawn GroRight® Lawn Establishment Fertiliser is ideal. Rake or till the fertiliser into the top 25mm of the soil.
    3. Rake the soil smooth and remove all stones and other debris (greater than 6mm) and any perennial weeds.
    4. Two days before the turf is to arrive, water the soil to a depth of 75mm (3") to make the soil moist.
  • How to Identify High Quality Turf

    1. Quality Rolawn TurfWas top rated independently tested seed used to produce the turf?
    2. Is the turf neatly stacked, consistently cut and well presented?
    3. Are the edges of the rolls sharp (not ragged)?
    4. Are the pieces of your turf free of holes or tears?
    5. Is there no more than 6mm of thatch in the turf?
    6. Is the turf neatly mown, dense and rich green in colour?
    7. Is the turf completely free of broad leaf weeds?

    If you answer yes to the above questions, you purchased excellent quality turf. The descriptions below will explain why these features are important to the quality and performance of your turf.

    General description of quality turfgrass

    The most important quality of turf is the seed from which it was produced. The only way for you to determine which types of seed were used to produce a turf is to ask the producer. For turf to be stacked neatly, it must be carefully harvested from the soil to ensure a uniform thickness. The thickness of turf rolls is critical for good, rapid establishment once the turf has been laid. Turf rolls that have a soil layer greater than 6mm will root more slowly than those with less than 6mm. However, a soil layer of less than 3mm will tend to dry out during transportation and will require much greater amounts of water once it is laid.

    The ability of a turf producer to consistently harvest turf is governed by several factors

    1. The age of the turf being harvested.
    2. The skill of the harvesting operators.
    3. The texture of the soil on the turf farm.

    How old should quality turf be?

    In general, the younger the turf the better it will perform for you. Young turf roots faster and deeper and generally requires less care to establish. Very young turf, however, presents some problems to both the producer and the installer. This turf is difficult to harvest because it will tear, or is not uniform and holes can result. Very young turf is tender and weak and will break apart during installation. These difficulties cost both the producer and the installer time and money. It is not necessary to harvest turf that is this young. The ideal age of turf which will harvest and install easily is 12-14 months.

    Remember:

    Turf that can be harvested is generally old enough to be easily installed. A good quality producer will ensure that the turf meets both criteria.

    Can good quality turf be too old?

    Yes, turf that grows too long on the farm will perform poorly compared to turf that is approximately 14 months old. Older turf tends to have more thatch, lose colour and density, root slower, and require more water, fertiliser, and care for establishment. You can often identify older turf because it is very light (in weight), is very difficult to tear, has a substantial thatch layer and a very thin layer of soil. To ensure you are getting good quality turf, ask your landscaper or producer how old the turf is.

    How should the turf look when it is first unrolled?

    The turf should look excellent. In the industry this is called roll-out quality and a producer's reputation is, in part, established on the appearance of the turf when the customer first unrolls it. To ensure that the roll-out quality is the best, Rolawn will mow and sweep the turf immediately prior to harvest, place it on a lorry minutes after it is cut, and transport it to you. Turf that is harvested and transported properly will be beautiful in appearance and cool to the touch when unrolled.

    Should each roll of turf be identical in appearance and size?

    No, but they should be pretty close. The best turf producers will generally harvest the turf from one field before moving into another field. This ensures uniformity. Turf will also change in appearance during the year. That is to say, turf harvested in March could look different from that harvested in July or October. A good quality producer will strive to supply a uniform product. Slight differences in the colour of the turf at roll-out are less important than the age of the turf. Colour differences will dissipate with time, old turf will only get older.

    REMEMBER:

    A good quality turf producer is proud of every roll of turf sold. Ask those important questions about how the turf is produced and transported, and inspect the turf when it first arrives. If you believe the turf is not good quality, discuss it with your landscaper or producer at the point of delivery or collection.

  • Changes in Your Turf After Laying

    What should you do if :

    1. Your turf becomes thinner a month after it is laid?
    2. Your grass seems to lose its colour?

    If this happens, your turf may be adapting to the type of care you are giving it.

    New turf growth

    The performance of newly installed turf is dependant on:

    1. The quality of turf you bought.
    2. How well your soil was prepared.
    3. The care you give your new turf after it is installed.

    Why your turf becomes thinner

    The density of your turf responds to the conditions under which it grows and the care you give it. If your turf is grown in less than full sunlight or you give it less care than Rolawn did, it will lose its density and colour. Turf density is greatest when it is grown in full sun. Growing it next to buildings, tall hedges or under trees will cause the turf to become thinner. If you look around your neighbourhood you will also notice that lawns which receive low amounts of fertiliser are thinner. Lawns that are mown at heights greater than 50mm will also be thinner.

    Does your turf seem to lose its lush green colour?

    Loss of turf colour is generally caused by decreasing amounts of available nitrogen.

    Solution to the problem

    In most cases, your turf will need to be fertilised and mown more often. Remember: Your turf is a living organism and it will respond to the care you give it. Your Rolawn turf was delivered to you in excellent condition, and with the proper care it will remain that way.

  • Watering Your Turf & Soil Drainage

    We'll start with three questions:

    1. Do you know how often to water your turf?
    2. Do you know how much water your turf needs?
    3. Do you know the best time of day for watering your turf?

    General Information

    Watering your new turf is the single most important step you need to take to ensure a good looking and long lasting lawn. Your new turf does not need immediate fertilisation but it does require water. Water is absorbed through the roots of the turf. Remember that no water enters the leaves of turf, so wetting the leaves supplies the turf with no water. Water is essential to the growth of all turf because it carries nutrients to the roots. It is important in the growth of leaves, it causes the leaves to be soft and pliable, and it makes the leaves stand up. Whilst you cannot see it, water is used by the turf plant to cool itself. Improper watering can cause problems for you and your turf.

    Over Watering

    Applying too much water can cause the soil to become saturated or soggy. If this condition persists for a couple of weeks in cool weather or for only a few days in hot weather, the grass will suffocate. Turf flooded by water cannot breathe, and turf must breathe to live. In addition, when the turf is flooded with water, disease can develop and kill the turf. It is important to realise that flooded turf does not mean the entire turf must be underwater. All that needs to be underwater are those parts of the turf in the soil. Roots must have oxygen to breathe, but roots must also have water to absorb fertiliser. Therefore, you must balance the amount of water and oxygen in your turf soil. This is easier than you might think.

    Under Watering

    Not giving your turf enough water can cause a series of problems for your turf. New turf is especially vulnerable to drought or insufficient water. Water is absorbed through roots. The greater number and depth of the roots of your turf, the more water the turf can absorb from the soil. Your new Rolawn turf is delivered with short roots on it. This must be done to reduce the weight of the new turf. However, the new turf has a very limited capacity to absorb water with its short roots. It takes only hours for new turf to dry out and be damaged or even killed. One excellent method to reduce this risk is to prepare your soil properly. Once the turf is installed it will need to be watered. Turf can dry out quite a bit before it will die, but even short periods of drought will cause the turf to be damaged, lose density, lose colour, wilt and become thin. Supplying the proper amount of water for your turf is important, and you can do this quite easily.

    Watering your turf properly

    How Deep - Watering your turf requires that you supply sufficient water to the roots. Therefore, if you know how deep your turf roots are, you know how deep the water must go. For example, new turf has roots that are only as deep as the piece of turf is thick. Thus, this turf must be watered at least enough to thoroughly wet it. However, this turf can rapidly produce new roots that grow 12.5mm per week. Thus, at the end of the week the water should be supplied to a depth of 12.5mm below the turf. In a mature turf in most UK soils, turf roots will be about 150-250mm deep, and water should be supplied to this depth. The only way to determine the depth of your roots is to dig a small hole and check.

    How Often - Your turf needs water when it is growing. Therefore, during those months when you are mowing your grass, you should ensure that the turf is watered sufficiently. Generally speaking, during the months of June-September you should water mature turf about once a week. New turf may require watering twice a day for the first week, then 2-3 times a week, then, after 3-6 weeks, once a week. Once your turf is established, it is best to water it well before noon, so it will dry off before evening. During the spring and autumn, the turf will require much less water than the summer, and during the winter the turf does not need to be watered at all.

    How to Apply Water - How you apply moisture is not that important, but some methods are better than others. Hand watering is generally the least accurate. Using a sprinkler is quite adequate. Using a timed sprinkler system can get you in trouble, because it may come on when it is raining and lead to water damage. Remember, it is not how long you water, but how deep the water penetrates the soil that is important.

    How to Determine if Your Turf is Wet Enough - The best way to determine if your turf soil is wet enough is to dig or cut a small hole and examine the soil. Properly watered soil will not be soaking wet, but moist, dark and cool. Another way of determining if there is sufficient moisture in the soil is to stick a pointed knife into the soil. If the knife can be easily pushed into the soil and upon removal is cool and clean, your soil is moist. Do not get fooled by Mother Nature. Wet leaves and heavy dew makes the turf look wet and your wellies may glisten, but your turf roots may be dry.

    Remember: To properly water turf you must supply all of the roots with water. Wetting leaves does very little to support the growth of turf.

  • Mowing Your Turf

    We'll start with five important questions:

    1. How soon after your new turf is laid should you mow it ?
    2. What height should you mow your turf ?
    3. How often should you mow your turf ?
    4. Should you collect your grass clippings ?
    5. What kind of lawn mower is best ?

    Before answering these, we should point out that mowing your turf is the single most important activity you can do to maintain a beautiful lawn. Grass is a living organism that responds to changes. Your turf will get used to how much you cut off and being cut to the same height. If you dramatically lower the height of the cut or let the grass grow too long before cutting it, you can injure or even kill your lawn. Dark green leaves can withstand the intense rays of the sun, but those parts of your turf near the soil, which are shaded by the leaves, are very sensitive to the sun. If you scalp your turf and expose those tender tissues near the soil, the sun may scorch your turf. Scorched turf will turn yellow, grow slowly and may even die. In general the longer the turf, the deeper the roots. However, if lawns are mown higher than 20mm, there will be sufficient roots.

    How soon after your new turf is laid should you mow it ?

    Most people wait too long! Your Rolawn turf was conditioned to a 25mm (1") height of cut and mown just prior to harvest and delivery by London Lawn Turf. With new turf you may need to mow it 2-3 days after it is laid. If this is the case, make sure that the turf is well rooted before you use a rotary mower, because the draught created by a rotary mower could lift the turf. You should try and mow your turf whenever it is over 30mm long.

    How high should you mow your turf?

    The actual height of the turf is a matter of preference. However, if most amenity lawns are mown shorter than 25mm it will weaken the turf, allow more weeds to encroach and in general, require more care. Rolawn mowed your new turf at 25mm because it provides a high quality appearance. You can raise the height of cut if you want to. If you let your lawn get much higher than normal, raise up the height of cut. Then, each time you mow bring it down by a third, until it is the height you want.

    How often should the grass be mown?

    Mow the grass as often as it needs it throughout the year. Your lawn will grow at different rates as the temperature changes, after you fertilise or water, and so on. If you are mowing properly you should not see much clippings on the turf. You cannot damage your turf by mowing it every day or even twice a day.

    Should you collect the grass clippings?

    It is not necessary to collect your clippings unless they cover the grass and block the sunlight from reaching the lawn. Grass clippings are rich in nutrients, and by returning them to the turf in small amounts you actually are creating a healthier turf. Grass clippings do not contribute to making thatch. In fact, by adding them back to the turf your thatch will form slower. On the other hand, you can collect the clippings if you want to. Clipping removal causes no significant loss of nutrients. Clippings are only a problem if you mow your grass improperly.

    What type of mower is best?

    The best type of mower is one that you maintain well, keep sharp and use regularly. The type of cutting action makes only a minor difference. A sharp mower is most important. A dull mower will damage the leaves, allow for more disease development and make the lawn look shabby. Both cylinder and rotary types of mowers work well. To select the mower that is right for you, consult the brochures of the leading manufacturers, chat with your neighbours or the grounds staff at sports clubs in your vicinity.

    Remember: Mow your new turf as soon as it needs it. It is not the height of cut, but how much of the leaf you cut off that is important. Never remove more than 1/3rd of the grass height at any one time.

  • Topdressing

    Lawn topdressing can be applied at any time when the grass is actively growing.

    Spring & Autumn - application of up to 3 litres/m2 (approx. 4kg/m2 or 3mm deep) of topdressing will assist in levelling, repairing worn & patchy areas, improving drainage, minimising thatch and promoting growth. If required, it should be done in conjunction with:

    • Scarification
    • Hollow tining/forking
    • Fertilising
    • Overseeding

    Summer - application of up to 1.5 litres/m2 (approx. 2kg/m2 or 1.5mm deep) of topdressing will assist in routine maintenance as worn areas appear. If required, it should be done in conjunction with:

    • Hollow tining/forking
    • Fertilising

    NB. If drought conditions exist, do not apply topdressing, fertiliser or hollow tine/fork the area.

    Topdressing should only be applied when the grass surface is relatively dry and it should be worked into the sward. Usually this is done using the back of a rake or a stiff brush. The topdressing should not be so thick that it smothers the grass when work has finished. Once the topdressing has been completed, there should be no obvious clusters of topdressing on the surface and the grass should be clearly visible. Watering the lawn when you have finished will put the final touches to the job.

    Do not mow immediately after applying the dressing, as this may remove some of the dressing and may cause damage and unnecessary wear to your lawnmower.

    Check out our Topdressing here >

  • When to Lay Your New Turf

    Your new Rolawn Turf can be laid all year round, although frosty conditions should be avoided and remember that if you lay your turf during a period of hot and dry weather it will require additional care and attention.

    When to Seed

    If you would rather seed your lawn, or if you wish to overseed an existing lawn, the best time for seeding is usually during the spring or autumn depending on weather conditions and the temperature.

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