Buy the book
The best advice when preparing and laying a new lawn, if you have not done it before, is to buy a good book and follow all the stages carefully. The disadvantage of turf compared to seed is that good turves can be expensive but it’s worth buying from a reputable supplier and buying the best quality you can afford to save heartache later.
Order about 5 percent more than you have calculated for to account for wastage. Small turves are easier to lay than large ones and if you can see a sample before you buy that’s all to the good. If you choose a mature grass type, such as Rolawn, it should be about 12 to 18 months old with a good soil base and plenty of white roots present. The grass should have good, uniform colour, no bare patches and virtually no weeds.
Lift a turf at one end, shake it and it should not tear or fall to pieces. Get your plot ready, marking out the area with garden line. You can define curves by making a shallow drill with a sharp stick and filling the line with sand. Decide where your turf is to go when it’s delivered and prepare everything ready to lay as soon as possible. Ideally you need a month between preparing the soil and laying the turf.
Clear your site, grade or level it and drain if necessary. Remove unwanted vegetation by using a total weed killer or, if you don’t want to use herbicide, skim the surface with a spade or use a flame gun but remember the latter two will still leave roots. Improve the soil by adding organic matter or sand. Before laying, break down any lumps for a fine tilth, fertilise a week before laying and give the area a final levelling.
Pick a fine day when the soil is reasonably dry to lay your turves and if you’ve bought the book, follow the sequences for laying and check each turf for weeds and coarse grass. The best time to lay turf is October/November but a dryish February is good. If it stretches into March or April you will need to water to ensure the new lawn doesn’t dry out. Other lawn jobs in February for an existing lawn may be to brush off worm casts when it’s dry, rake up debris, look out for signs of disease and apply lawn sand towards the end of the month to ward off moss and daisy growth.