Preparation and Laying

  • A guide to applying topsoil to your lawn and garden

    The health of your garden's topsoil is essential for healthy fruit and vegetables and beautiful blooms. However, if your gardening on what was once a construction site or your soil has become compacted, it might be time to order some quality topsoil and start creating a lovely and productive garden.
    Continue reading

  • How to Lay Turf

    We have recently published the following video, showing you how to lay lawn turf properly.

    Check out our YouTube channel for more videos. There is one on smoothing the soil prior to laying turf and also one on ground preparation.

    We really hope you find this content helpful, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to get in touch with us on 0844 822 9999



    Or watch on YouTube:  How to Lay Turf

  • 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:

    • Wheelbarrow
    • Rake
    • Spade (Turf Cutter and Rotavator)
    • Stanley Knife, with spare blades
    • Wooden Planks (Scaffold Boards)
    • Hosepipe

    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:

    Ground Preparation:

    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.

  • Laying Your Turf

    First things first, you will need to identify the answers to these five questions:

    1. Is your soil prepared for new turf?
    2. Do you have the correct amount of turf ordered?
    3. Do you have the tools needed for laying turf?
    4. Do you know how to arrange the new turf?
    5. Do you know how to care for the new turf?

    Once you have covered these basic considerations, you are ready to go. Laying your own turf is very satisfying and can be enjoyable.

    Rolawn turf comes in neat, consistent rolls and is ready to lay. It is important not to wait to unroll the turf, as the turf should be rolled out immediately. Having said this, the longest you can wait is 24 hours in the autumn or winter and just 12 hours in the spring or summer.

    The following information should get you ready to go when you receive your delivery.

    Turf Laying Tools

    You only actually need a few tools for laying turf

    • a wheelbarrow
    • a rake
    • a spade

    in addition to these three things you should have a garden hose, or for smaller areas a watering can.

    Getting Going

    To begin with, use your wheelbarrow to carry the turf to the furthest point from the delivery area. By doing this you will only be carrying the turf a short distance once you are tired. Always try to unroll your turf along the longest border and always roll turf across a slope and not down it.

    Knitting Your Turf Together

    • Start laying along a straight side in a row, "butt jointing" the ends tightly together.
    • Do not stretch the turf, always push the turf into a joint. Avoid gaps, but if they do occur fill them in with a light soil/sand mixture (Rolawn Turf & Lawn Seeding Topsoil is ideal for this) and gently tap down.
    • Ensure complete contact between the soil and the underside of the turf and if necessary use a flat board or a pole to lightly firm down the turf. Never use a roller on freshly laid turf.
    • Trim the ends of the turf with a spade to fit around trees, paths and so on.
    • If the outer edges of the new turf are exposed, pile a bit of soil on them to prevent drying from the sun.

    Care After Unrolling Your Turf

    The first month or so is the most important time for establishing your new turf. Here are some watering tips for you to follow to help establish your new turf:

    • Immediately after laying, start watering. Ensure that the new lawn is never short of water. Check under corners of the turf to confirm that water has thoroughly percolated through to the underlying soil. Water repeatedly for at least two weeks and certainly until the turf is well established. Once established, weekly watering during dry periods should be adequate.
    • Walk on and press down those edges in the turf that are not well seated.
    • Mow the lawn as soon as it grows long enough.
  • 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.


    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.


    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.

  • 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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