Turf Laying – Top Tips especially for clay soils
I’ve laid a few lawns in my time and I usually prefer seed. This year, however, the whole thing has really got to me and I have decided to lay turf. Being quite practiced at the ‘art’, I thought I would share some hints and tips that I have learnt along my way, especially how to lay turf on clay soil.
Clay soil top tips:
- Make sure you take the time to really break up the clay. Rotivate several times and try to get rid of any big lumps. If you don’t work clay soil well it is likely to become a boggy mess.
- Drainage! Sand and grit are your friends. Add to help with drainage. If you are not sure, it is well worth getting a professional out to give you their opinion.
- Drainage part 2. If things are really bad consider land drainage. This is probably something you will want to get help with laying.
- One of the great things about a clay soil is that by holding the water, it is also holding onto nutrients. Your lovely new lawn is unlikely to need as many feeds (or waters!) as a sandy soil.
Here is a useful video illustrating good preparation techniques
When to lay?
Choosing when to lay and preparing properly are the most important decisions to make when laying a lawn. Turf loves moist and warm soil. This autumn is forecast to be perfect!
How to buy turf
- A single turf is usually a square metre.
- You will find that most turfs are not cut in a square but a rectangle.
- Make sure you buy at least 5% extra so you are not using off-cuts in crucial areas.
- Order from a company who will deliver straight to your door.
- TOP TIP: Never order turf to be delivered on a Monday! It may have been cut for the weekend trade and not sold.
- Make sure you are well-prepared before your turf arrives so that you can lay it as soon as you get your hands on it!
- Where possible, buy turf that has been raised from seed.
How to lay your turf
- Spend the time and effort preparing your soil base. There is really no point in buying the best quality turf that money can buy and plonking it on unprepared soil.
- You may like to add a little pre-laying fertiliser. Some people choose not to as they think that this discourages the grass roots from searching for nutrients. I add pre-laying fertiliser because turfing is an expensive business – I’ll do anything to encourage it to take!
- Find a nice straight edge to lay your first turf next to and unroll slowly
- I like to lay it ever so slightly over the edges of the soil (onto a path, for example) It may look a little weird to being with, but I think that this produces a nicer looking lawn in the end.
- Take time to tamp each turf down well.
- When laying subsequent turfs, make sure that each piece is really butted up well to the next – laying turf takes time and patience, but the results are well worth it!
- Lay the turd in a staggers, brickwork pattern to avoid regimented cut lines.
- Unless you are on really heavy clay like I am here in Somerset, give your new turf a good soak in.A useful video showing turf laying techniques
Two final tips:
- Remember that the turf can easily take a couple of weeks to root to the soil
- When it comes to mowing, mow on the highest setting for the first dozen times, then lower if you choose.
I hope that these tips that I have learnt over the last 20 years are of some use to you if you want to know how to lay turf on clay soil. Happy turfing!