The Best Time To Lay Turf in the UK? A Season-By-Season Guide

by Daniel Hunter

If you’re wondering when to lay turf then pay attention. The advice I’m going to give you goes against many other sources of information.

See, most gardeners and gardening websites will tell you to lay turf in the autumn. They say growing conditions are best.

Not me, I’m here to tell you that you can lay turf whenever you damn well please!

David Hedges-Gower, the UK’s leading lawn expert (I thought it was me!) and author of ‘Modern Lawn Care, The Complete Guide to a Happy and Healthy Lawn’, agrees.

Here’s my philosophy…

Lay Turf is When the Weather is On Your Side

Yeah, some seasons do traditionally provide better conditions than others, like autumn. But you don’t need to shy away from laying turf in any season.

I don’t know about you, but if I decide I want to create a new lawn in February, I don’t want to wait until September to do it.

The weather in the UK is so damn unpredictable you can’t always rely on autumn being the perfect season.

We’ve all seen summers where all it seems to do is chuck it down with rain. These are perfect conditions for laying turf as it’s warm, wet and often bright. Yet most sources of information tell you that summer is the worst time of year to do it.

It’s also not uncommon for wet summers to be followed by dry autumns, which isn’t ideal either.

Are you then supposed to wait until the next autumn in hope that the conditions might be better?

That’s stupid!

So don’t pigeon hole yourself into only laying turf at certain times of year.

If the weather is on your side, go ahead and do it goddammit!

Just make sure you;

With that said, here’s a season-by-season guide to what you can expect.

Laying Turf in Spring

Spring, between March and June is usually a good time to lay turf.

There’s plenty of sunlight which warms the soil and there’s generally plenty of rain too. This provides the ideal conditions for grass plants to grow and establish.

During spring, leaf growth is quick as the grass plants try to grow tall and produce seed heads. Regular mowing means you hack the head off before they’ve grown so you won’t see the whole process.

Some years provide all the rainfall your new lawn needs. Other years might be as dry and Gandhi’s sandals so you’ll need to supplement by turning sprinklers on.

Turfing a Lawn in Summer

Like I said, many so-called ‘experts’ will tell you not to lay turf in summer as it’s too hot and dry. But rain is often a staple of UK summers so you can lay turf with great success.

Make sure you check the weather forecast first!

Turf harvested in the summer won’t last very long so you’ll need to lay it as soon as it arrives and soak it with water ASAP. So make sure you’ve prepared the ground before you even think about ordering.

If it’s warm and there’s no rain then it’s best to wait for better conditions. If you’re dead set on doing it though, you’ll need to water a lot, at least twice a day. Once in the morning and again in the evening.

Laying Turf in Autumn

Autumn is traditionally the best time of year to replace your old lawn with new turf.

The soil will have been warmed up all the way through the summer, there’s still plenty of sun and the increased rain fall makes for perfect conditions.

That said, if you get an Indian Summer, you’ll need to water as much as you would in a dry summer.

During autumn, the grass plants start to prepare themselves for the winter. Instead of growing leaves that are vulnerable to frost, they grow deep, strong roots.

By the time spring arrives, your new lawn will have a very strong, well-established root system. This is perfect for leaf growth. This will give you a lawn that is ready for your family to use right the way through the season.

Laying New Turf in Winter

Turfing a new lawn in Winter is fine as long as;

  1. You don’t do it when the ground is waterlogged, and
  2. You avoid frosty conditions

Al long as you can rotavate the soil and create a fine tilth, you’re in good shape.

If the ground is too wet then you’ll create a massive mud bath (which is awesome for wresting in!) but the chances of your lawn being level is next to zero.

And if the ground’s frozen…

Don’t go there!

Be prepared to water the lawn in winter too. If there’s no rain, turn the sprinklers on.

Growth and root development slow down in winter. You might find you’ll be able to lift the edges of the turf for several weeks. This is OK but make sure you keep off the lawn. As long as the turf stays green, all is A-OK .

Then, when spring rolls around, your new lawn will grow and establish pretty quickly.

Bottom Line

The fact is, you can lay turf at any time of the year.

Autumn and spring are traditionally the best times but the UK weather can’t ever make its mind up. So if summer or winter provides decent conditions, get stuck in and do it.

The main point is to do it when the weather conditions are on your side. So check before starting the work and understand you might need to turn the sprinklers on. No matter what time of year you do it.

After all, laying turf ain’t cheap!

Over and out!

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